Detroit transplant Grant Forshee (General Manager), and Hyde Park local Tiffani Everett (Manager), are in charge of keeping the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery & Pizzeria in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood welcoming and running smoothly. It’s the first Chicago location for the Dexter, Michigan-based brewery, known for its award-winning sour beers aged in oak barrels that have inspired a passionate following, and it’s landed on the Chicago Tribune’s list of best new city breweries and brewpubs.
Founder and chief brewmaster Ron Jeffries always hoped to open his own brewery when he started studying brewing science in the early 1990s, and in 2004 he launched Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. The company is known for its unique sour beer, achieved through “…traditional Belgian brewing methods of open fermentation, oak aging and bottle conditioning, allowing the influence of wild yeast and bacteria to work (its) way into (the) beers.”
Before opening the Hyde Park location in October 2017, Jolly Pumpkin had four Michigan brewpubs – in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Royal Oak, and Traverse City – and a sixth location recently opened in Grand Rapids. The company wanted to expand into the Chicago market, and the Hyde Park neighborhood, at the southern end of the city, was a manageable 3.5 hours away.
The brewpub has 30+ beers on tap, and the Chicago Tribune noted that the list “…includes beers crossing a range of styles: dark and light, boozier and less boozy, a saison, a pumpkin ale, a rye ale and even an intensely dry-hopped beer that Jolly Pumpkin calls a ‘sour IPA’.” They also offer IPAs from its subsidiary brewery, North Peak Brewing Company, in addition to Nomad cider, Bonafide wine, and spirits from the company’s distillery in Traverse City.
The brewery offers three different families of beer
– Legacy, Series, and Collaborations. The gorgeous beer bottle labels you can’t help but want to have as a t-shirt or a poster are all designed by Michigan artist Adam Forman. Legacy beers include La Roja, Oro de Calabaza, Luciernaga, Bam Biere, Calabaza Blanca, Madrugada Obscura, Noel de Calabaza, Bam Noire, Biere de Mars, Fuego del Otono, and La Parcela.
Series beers include the Bam Seasonal, Baudelaire, Hop Portal, Improvisations, La Roja Variant, Letters, Limited Run, and Rare Beer Club. There have been 15+ collaborations with breweries such as the Anchorage Brewing Company, Big Island Brewhaus, Gigantic Brewing Company, Holy Mountain Brewing Company, Jester King Brewing Company, and many more.
For new customers, Grant typically recommends the Bam Biere, a signature farmhouse ale with just a bit of tartness. He’s attuned to what customers want, having served as a Jolly Pumpkin bartender for three years, before being promoted to general manager. He says, “…it’s good to know that we have a lot of different and
diverse products (and) we’re really looking to make Jolly Pumpkin a kind of destination for something to do on a night out.”
There’s a daily Happy Hour every Monday- Friday, with $2 off draft beer, wine, and house cocktails from 4-6 p.m. Trivia Tuesday, hosted by Geeks who Drink, has also been a big draw every Tuesday night from 8-10 p.m. For lunchtime visits, Jolly
Pumpkin offers $9 weekday lunch specials every Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bears fans can watch games all season long on Jolly Pumpkin’s nine televisions, with game-time food and drink specials.
The fast-casual pub menu features starters, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas – Tiffani mentions her favorites are the red chicken nachos and truffle mushroom pizza – which just happen to be some of the most popular items on the menu.
Both love working at the Jolly Pumpkin Hyde
Park location – Grant, a former Detroit resident, appreciates the energy of the neighborhood, and Tiffani adds, “I feel like Hyde Park gives you that small town feeling, but you’re still part of the bigger city as well.”
5215 S. Harper Court