Beer From Here

Begyle Brewing, Chef Cleetus Friedman and the Garden are launching a series of seasonal, small-batch saisons—Change of Saisons. The beer captures the best flavors of the season.

Chef Cleetus Friedman has had a long relationship with the Chicago Botanic Garden. You may know him as the executive chef of Fountainhead, the Bar on Buena, and the Northman, soon to open in Chicago. Perhaps you have enjoyed his appearances at the Garden Chef Series, where he teaches visitors to prepare local, seasonal recipes at the open-air amphitheater of the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden. If you are lucky, you have experienced one of our Farm Dinners over the past six years, where Chef Friedman dreams up memorable meals with local food and drink for guests to enjoy in a garden setting. 

And now, that relationship has grown into something even more mouth-watering… 

PHOTO: Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead / The Bar on Buena.
Chef Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead and the Bar on Buena!

Together with Begyle Brewing, a community-supported brewery in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, Chef Friedman and the Garden are launching a series of seasonal, small-batch saisons—Change of Saisons. The beer will capture the best flavors of the season at the Garden, beginning with a strawberry rhubarb saison, sourced this spring. The team worked fast to bring this brew right back to the Garden for visitors to enjoy. The small batch of strawberry rhubarb saison will be followed by a berry-based saison and each will be available for only a limited time. 

“It’s a versatile beer for everyone coming to the Garden,” said Chef Friedman. 

Beer Rhubarb and Laura
On May 21, Laura Erickson, market manager of Windy City Harvest, harvested rhubarb from the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden. Chef Friedman cooked it down to make a puree to use in the brew.

“Change of Saisons furthers our commitment to serve food and beverages that are sourced locally,” said Harriet Resnick, vice president of visitor experience and business development, “and you can’t get more local than our own backyard.”

What is a Saison?—The Garden’s new beer is a saison, a lighter type of ale originating from a French-speaking region of Belgium. It typically contains fruit and spice notes. Farmers brewed this ale during the cooler months and stored it until the following summer, where it was given to seasonal workers, or “saisonniers.”

Change of Saisons is available on tap (while supplies last) at the Garden Grille on the Garden View Café deck. You may also sip saison at Autumn Brews on Thursday, October 8, 2015. 



©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and


Raise a Glass to Repeal Day!

Say “prohibition” and lots of other interesting words immediately spring to mind. Speakeasy. Bootleg. Moonshine. Now add a new phrase to that list: Repeal Day.

PHOTO: a Post-Repeal Day truck sports a sign with the slogan, "Happy Days are Beer Again!"Repeal Day is December 5. Why that date? Because on December 5, 1933, Utah cast the ratifying vote to repeal Prohibition, bringing to an end more than 13 years of a national ban on the sale, manufacture, transportation — and consumption! — of alcohol.

Although the Eighteenth Amendment was intended to reduce crime and poverty by curbing all things alcohol, Prohibition didn’t quite turn out that way:

  • Speakeasies became more numerous than the saloons they replaced.
  • Average citizens became illegal “bathtub gin” distillers.
  • Violence and crime skyrocketed.
  • Gangsters found a foothold in society by transporting and selling liquor.

By the time the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth (the only time in history that’s happened), citizens had realized that prohibiting alcohol also prohibited:

  • Toasting your son or daughter on his or her wedding day.
  • Pressing the grapes you tended all summer into the wine you served all winter.
  • The simple enjoyment of a cold beer on a hot day.

With that in mind, the folks at decided to mark “a return to the rich traditions of craft fermentation and distillation, the legitimacy of the American bartender as a contributor to the culinary arts, and the responsible enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred social custom.”

PHOTO: Enjoy Holiday Cheers! on December 5.In the spirit of Repeal Day, we are hosting our first-ever Holiday Cheers! Seasonal Tasting event on December 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.  A who’s who of Chicago distillers, brewers, and winemakers will be there to offer tastings and teachings about the city’s burgeoning spirits scene.

Join us to raise a glass to the grapes and the grains and the hops that make it all possible.


PHOTO: A great book: The Homebrewer's Garden.Fun reading/resources at our Lenhardt Library:

The Encyclopedia of Chicago keeps you flipping from topic to topic, 100 Years of Brewing takes you back pre-Prohibition, and The Home Brewers Garden helps you plan next year’s garden.

©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and