The Art in Brewing Beer: Arcade Brewery

January 30, 2012 · Print This Article

This post is part of an ongoing series about art and beer. 

Over the weekend, I met artist and brewer Christopher Tourre at his house as he and Lance Curran, his partner in Arcade Brewery, brewed a five and a half gallon batch of beer they call Oatmilk Stout. Tourre brews on his kitchen stove in big gleaming steel pots. At the same time that he showed me a page of obscure calculations made in composition notebook, the mash assembled by those same calculations steeped in a rough plastic cooler of the kind you normally bring iced and bottled beer to the beach in. A hardware store spigot juts out its front for easy drainage. Chris tells me that some home brewers get extremely scientific in their process, invoking hyper accurate measurements and fine-tuned equipment to get as close as possible to target flavor components like International Bitterness Units (IBUs). But even a highly trained human tongue can only pick out a range of a few IBUs. Add in layers of complexity like sweet flavors from the beer’s malt or extracts added to it and the exact measurement becomes even harder to guess at without equipment.

Taking the mash's temperature

For Tourre and Curran, this kind of ambiguity is an asset to be celebrated both in their beer and in the engagements they’re looking to build around it. The imperfect process and intuitive understanding a brewer have are just two things that make brewing an artful craft. While Arcade is certainly intended to function as a business, lessons that come from participatory art and event-making are also primary concerns. Last year, in a month-long residency at Spoke, Tourre invited the public to both sample his own beer and to share in the creation of original brews. He connected with foragers and garderners around Chicago to make small batches of beer and soda using ingredients they found or grew. He also gave free home-brewing workshops. At the end of the month, he hosted a tasting of all the different beverages crafted with his co-creators present to share the stories behind each drink.

Although the Public Brewery at Spoke was firmly planted in the realm of art, it also helped Tourre and Curran’s business prospects. The residency got them in touch with New Chicago Beer Company, opening soon at The Plant—an indoor vertical farm in the Back of the Yards. Arcade will be renting New Chicago’s equipment between cycles to brew their first commercial batches. But public events are not intended to shrewdly forward a brand and network. Tourre and Curran think of interfacing with the public as more than market research. As they shift from an art project to a business, they’re aware of certain values they want to hold onto. “Sometimes it’s easier as an artist to create a convivial spirit and atmosphere.” Tourre says, “How do you stay sincere when it becomes a business? How do you take something that I would do as an art project and convert that over to a money making endeavor? How do you keep the same spirit, legitimacy, and authenticity? That’s part of the challenge for us.”

Because the beer isn’t in the bottle yet, sincerity and collaboration with the public are mostly guiding principles at the moment. But Arcade does have a few plans for keeping audiences substantially involved in what they do. Public Brew sessions will work much like the residency at Spoke did: people can attend causal brewing sessions where Tourre answers questions and explains every step of the process. While Arcade will have certain beers available year-round, their seasonals will be decided by a process of public consensus. People will be able to submit, discuss, and vote on recipes to create seasonal brews they’ll share credit on.

Arcade is also developing some novel ideas for the design of the bottles too. They’re working with the writer Jason Aaron and the comic artist Tony Moore to create a six-pack design where each bottle will have on it a frame of an original comic that relates to the beer it holds. The central theme for Arcade seems to be that everything around the beer is as important as the beer itself. As Curran said during our brewing session: you don’t just taste the beer, you experience it. That experience manifests in the crafting of beverage and builds out to include the vessel it comes in, the type of things people do when they’re drinking it, and the understanding people have of what it is they’re consuming.

Top 5 Weekend Picks! (7/22 & 7/23)

July 21, 2011 · Print This Article

1. Habitual Growth at Fill in the Blank Gallery

Work by Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootzeit, and Katie Schofield.

Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception Friday, from 7-11pm.

2. On the Beach: Works in Progress Slideshows at Iceberg

Work by Zoe Strauss.

Iceberg is located at 7714 N. Sheridan Rd. Reception Saturday, from 6-9pm.

3. For a long time, all I could do was surrender at Spoke

Work by Marissa Perel.

Spoke is located at 119 N Peoria St, 3D. Performance Saturday, from 5-8pm.

4. Chromophobia Summer Reception at Chromopobia

Work by Eric Kaepplinger, Eric Cortez, and Joseph Palmer.

Chromopobia is located at 2303 N Oakley #1B. Reception Friday, from 6-10pm.

5. Heaven Gallery turns 11 at Heaven Gallery

Work by Montgomery Perry Smith, Adam Hoff, Stephen Eichhorn, Max Reinhardt, Matt Sauermilch and more.

Heaven Gallery is located at 1550 N Milwaukee Ave #2. Reception Friday, from 7-11pm.

Top 5 Weekend Picks? Nope, but they have potential…

March 25, 2011 · Print This Article

Ok, so somehow this week devolved into madness, and here I am, to do a last minuet post for my weekly top 5. Being slightly indisposed at the moment, the top 5 pick is being scrapped this week for a longer list of: “Well, it looks like it has potential…” Enjoy!


LIKE A ROCK: Tony Balko and Olivia Ciummo at ACRE Projects (1913 W 17th St) Reception 6-9pm.

Snowblind: Alex Blau at Firecat Projects (2124 N. Damen) Reception 7-10pm.

Launch of at Johalla Projects (1561 N Milwaukee) Party from 7-10pm.

Drop It Like It’s Not at Murdertown (2351 N. Milwaukeee Apt #2) Reception 6-9pm.

Double Feature: The Art Dump at Post Family (1821 W. Hubbard S. Unit 202) Reception 7-11pm.


Anthotypes: John Opera at Andrew Rafacz Gallery (835 W Washington Blvd) Reception 4-7pm.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) Chicago at Archer Ballroom (3012 S. Archer Ave. Apt #3) Reception 7-10pm.

BLUE GLUE AND OTHER EXPLORATIONS: Mara Baker at Happy Collaborationists Exhibition Space – (1254 N Noble St) Reception 6-10pm.

PSYCHA-BOBBLE: J. Thomas Pallas, Laura Davis, David Leggett and Elisa Harkins at High Concept Laboratories (1401 W. Wabansia) Reception 7pm-midnight.

Nobody to Have Any Fun With: Mac Katter, Dylan Cale Jones and Vanya Schroeder at SÃ¥ Gallery (2150 S Canalport Ave #4A-10) Reception 7:30-10:30pm.

WORK IN THE WOODS from SCARCITY asks, “IS THIS YOU, WANT?”: G. Vincent Gaulin at Spoke (119 N Peoria St.) Performance 6-8:30pm.


Zombie Apocalypse: Kimberly MacAulay, Anna Vlaminck, and Eric Cronin at Black Cloud Gallery (1909 S. Halsted St) Reception 6-10pm.

Eyeball Witness: Suitable Video Vol. 2 at Roots & Culture (1034 N Milwaukee Ave.) Screening at 7pm. $5.

Top 5 Weekend Picks! (7/23-7/25)

July 21, 2010 · Print This Article

Hey, dude, art…hella.

1. Carny at Eastern Expansion

And I quote, “Carny is a salon installation of 75 plus photographs captured during Paul’s recent observations while working for traveling carnivals around the midwest.” Photographs by Paul Rizzuto.

Eastern Expansion is located at 244 W. 31st St. Reception is Friday from 6-10pm.

2. If Nature Could Talk at Spoke

And I quote, “is an interactive event that explores the uncanny relationship between art, science, and nature. Based on the investigation of Human/Nature dynamics through marks, traces and symbols of pseudo- scientific experiments, the work suggests what nature might be thinking and feeling in an evidentiary context.” Photographs, sculptures, objects, and evidence created and collected by Grant W. Ray.

Spoke is located at 119 N Peoria St, 3D. Reception is Friday from 6-9pm.

3. Looks Like A Place I Came In at The Hills Esthetic Center

And I quote, “The Hills Esthetic Center [presents] a site-specific installation titled “Looks Like A Place I Came In”. Caponigro’s response to the space draws influence from her family’s history by means of the decadent lacy fabrics juxtaposed  with gaudy laminate flooring, jungles of houseplants, screenprinted  temporary wallpaper and halls of astroturf.” Installation by Jessica Taylor Caponigro.

The Hills Esthetic Center is located at 128 N. Campbell Ave., Unit G. Reception is Friday from 8-11pm.

4. Slideluck Potshow Chicago IV at Columbia College

And I quote, “Slideluck Potshow is a slideshow and potluck to which members of Chicago’s arts, photography and media communities bring food, drink and enjoy slideshows from local artists. The evening begins with two hours of dining on the home-cooked delights of participants, while drinking and mingling. Following the potluck, the lights are dimmed, the crowd hushed as a spectacular slideshow commences. Slideluck Potshow is a forum for exposing artists, curators and editors to new work while infusing the arts community with a non-commercial vitality and refreshing exchange.” Work by various artists, bring food with ya to share.

The Conaway Center at Columbia College is located at 1104 S. Wabash St. Saturday night, food at 7pm, slide shows from 9-11pm.

5. Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century at The Art Institute of Chicago

Why should you go? Because Cartier-Bresson was a fucking bad-ass, that’s why.

The Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 S. Michigan Ave. Exhibition begins Sunday.

Top 5 Weekend Picks!

June 10, 2010 · Print This Article

This week my Top 5 in actually a Top 4. Why? ‘Cus I say so damn it!  I’ll probably be out of town on Saturday, but luckily, my Top 4 are all on Friday. So, without further ado…

1. The First Five Years at 65Grand

We all know the city gives shit to apartment galleries, even though it was recently discovered that the city itself didn’t even have its own damn story straight on what was illegal and what wasn’t. Well, unfortunately, Bill was one of those that ended up with the shi..ahem…short end of the stick. This is your last chance to see 65Grand in its original incarnation, and get an overview of the last five years of exhibitions.

65Grand is located at, well, you figure it out. Reception is from 7pm to 1am.

2. The Intuitive Photography of Jay King and Lee Balterman at Stephen Daiter Gallery

Daiter presenting more of the work he does best. I’ve really come to love Stephen Daiter Gallery over the last year. Street and personal photography spanning a 60 year period by Chicago natives Jay King and Lee Balterman.

Stephen Daiter Gallery is located at 230 W. Superior St. Reception is from 5-8pm.

3. I’ll Be Your Mirror at Spoke

From the venue that brought puppies into the gallery (I shit you not, it was awesome), comes another round of strangness. The artists of I’ll Be Your Mirror, and I quote, “will focus their energy on exploring the possibilities of mutually beneficial relationships rooted in conversation, exchange and sincerity.” Included in the exhibition are Lise Haller Baggesen and Anni Holm of Chicago, Gitte Bog of Mexico City, Gudrun Hasle and Berit Nørgaard of Copenhagen.

Spoke is located at 119 N Peoria St. #3D. Reception is from 5-8pm.

4. About Face at Thomas Robertello Gallery

An amazing show dealing with the face. Don’t miss it, you will be sad if you do. Including works by Jason Robert Bell, Cody Critcheloe (SSION), John Delk, Scott Fife, Emily Noelle Lambert , Nikki S Lee , Noelle Mason, Mike Nudelman, Ed Paschke, Grant Schexnider, Travis Leroy Southworth, and Julie Weitz.

Thomas Robertello Gallery  is located at 939 W. Randolph St. Reception is from 5-8pm.