Art History Brewing didn’t have the best timing for its grand opening, originally set for March 15, 2020—just in time for a global pandemic. On the other hand, its arrival was perfectly timed for something else: a wave of appreciation for classic lager styles. Such beers have won acclaim for the brewery from industry peers as well as from the general public. (And when the famed Hopleaf bar in Chicago chooses your brewery to make its two house beers, you’re doing something right.)
From the moment they drew up a business plan in 2018, owners Tom and Cindy Rau wanted to focus on European-style lagers—the kinds of beers they missed from their travels abroad. They began a search for a brewer who shared this obsession and found it in veteran Chicago-area brewer Greg Browne, whose long career at the brewpub Mickey Finn’s was known for impeccably made classic styles.
“I asked him what his favorite style was; he said German pils,” Tom Rau says. “I said, ‘Well, that’s my second favorite. I’m a Czech lager fan.’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s my second favorite.’ From there, we melded minds.”