Beer and sausages are more than just a good pairing. They are a tradition seemingly beyond the reach of time or memory—as if it were not passed down as good wisdom, but a truth that always was. Thanks to my Wisconsin family heritage, beer and bratwursts on the grill have always required a kind of reverence for me (always on a Sheboygan hard roll with mustard), but I would say that the pairing is also woven into many of our consciousnesses. It just works.
Point being, often times when you seek out sausages, you'll find beer, and vice versa. This hunch is what led me to Revolution Brewing on Milwaukee Avenue, where they brew their own (soon to be manufactured at a new plant in the city) and run a well-received gastropub, which won best new gastropub in Time Out Chicago's 2010 Eat Out Awards.
The menu always has a plate of charcuterie where sausages figure prominently, all made completely in house. (For those of you who attended the Serious Eats: Chicago meet-up, hopefully you were able to sample some of the plates brought out.)
The charcuterie plate aims high, and meets those expectations with great success. With an on-site smokehouse and some ambitious flavor profiles, this is not your run-of-the-mill sausage selection. On a recent night the plate came with pork rillettes (soft and creamy), pate (nicely seasoned), and two kinds of sausage: a smoky andouille with a generous kick, and a succulent pork sausage flavored with roasted pears and basil. (The selection of sausages changes regularly).
Both were crisp and juicy, with the right amount of salt, and were expertly seasoned. The andouille was just spicy enough to compete with the smokiness, though both weren't so strong as to smother the flavor of the meat itself. The pear and basil sausage was sweet and herbal, an unexpected but successful matching with the pork. And both had the cornerstone quality of a well-made link: softness. While you don't always hear about softness, it is in my opinion essential to a good sausage, especially in contrast to a well-crisped casing.
The rest of the menu has some inventive takes on dishes, like popcorn with bacon fat, and a solid offering of pizza and burgers like you'd expect. I'd put in a vote for their housemade charcuterie plate, too. Especially with a slew of award winning beers to wash it down.
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