Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The History of the Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago's Loop since 1898.

Herman Berghoff immigrated to America from Dortmund, Germany, in 1870. Herman and his three brothers, Henry, Hubert and Gustav, started brewing Berghoff's Beer in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1887. 
The Berghoff Family as they began brewing Berghoff Beer.
When the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition opened in 1893, Berghoff set up a stand on the Midway Plaisance and sold his beer to people entering and exiting the fair. His success at the fair prompted him to consider a more permanent place to sell his beer in Chicago. The Berghoff Restaurant, at 17 West Adams Street, near the center of Chicago's Loop, was opened in 1898 and quickly became a famous institution. His Dortmunder [1] style beers were sold for a nickel and they came with a free sandwich (one per customer -- not one with each beer).
When Prohibition hit, Herman saw it as an opportunity to expand his business as opposed to shutting down. He began brewing “near beer” (which is now sold as Berghoff's Root Beer) and Berghoff pop (soda pop for you non-Chicagoans) while also expanding the food service.
A historic photo of The Berghoff Restaurant on West Adams Street in downtown Chicago.
During the 14 years that Prohibition was in effect, The Berghoff Restaurant became well known for authentic German fare. After prohibition was repealed in 1933, The Berghoff was issued Chicago's #1 Liquor License.
A photo of Herman Berghoff holding Chicago's first-ever liquor license after Prohibition.
Long after most restaurants ended the practice, the Berghoff maintained a separate men's only bar.
Celebrating the repeal of Prohibition at the Berghoff Restaurant's Men-Only Tavern.
It wasn’t until Gloria Steinem and six other members of the National Organization for Women stood at the bar and demanded to be served in 1969 that the segregation ended.

For much of its history, the Berghoff waiters would purchase the meals they were serving from the kitchen and then deliver them to the customer, keeping the amount the customer paid for the meals.
A sample of one of The Berghoff Restaurant's old menus.
On December 28, 2005, it was announced by Herman Berghoff, 70, and his wife Jan Berghoff that after 107 years of operation, The Berghoff would close on February 28, 2006. Herman and Jan were the third generation of Berghoffs to own the restaurant.
The restaurant's basement cafe reopened on April 18, 2006, during weekday lunch hours only, and was run by Carlyn Berghoff, Herman and Jan's daughter. She also reopened the Berghoff's bar on May 23, 2006, under the new name "17-West at The Berghoff." At one point, Carlyn Berghoff converted the dining room of the restaurant into a private banquet hall called "The Century Room.", however, it's back and running as a full-service restaurant like it once did.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


What is a Dortmunder style beer?
Written by Berghoff restaurant.

One of our favorite beers in our line of great Berghoff brews is our Dortwunder Lager for its rich malty flavor and the exquisite crispness it delivers. Our brewmasters did not invent this style though, rather we used a beer that dates back to the 19th century from the German city of Dortmunder. There, they created a delicious beer that still is popular today.
The Dortmunder style comes from a strip of land known as the Ruhr District which ran east and west for 60 miles between the Rhine and Ruhr River. The beer is named after one of the biggest towns in the area is Dortmund, which is also the largest city in Germany by area.

During the start of the Industrial Revolution, Dortmund and its surrounding cities had developed quite well. Under the earth of the Ruhr District were rich seams of coal which allowed Germany’s industry to grow. As the decades moved forward Dortmund and Ruhr District exploded with industrial factories that both processed coal and iron. The towns night sky would glow from the fiery furnaces that filled the area, and the air smelled of burning all year round.

It’s no surprise then, that the beer brewed in the area of Dortmund and the Ruhr District was meant to be drunk by hard working men. The men were looking for a refreshing brew that had a classic maltiness of a Bavarian beer and a deeper color than a German Pilsner. What the brewers of Dortmund came up with was what we now refer to as a Dortmunder.

The intention was to make a tough beer that a miner, coal worker, and steel worker could enjoy. They looked for no nonsense, middle of the road beer that could satisfy a thirst anytime of the day. The brewers of Dortmund used a mix of the Bavarian Helles which came in a light blonde color with a gentle flavor and rich maltiness. They mixed that with the German Pils which had a better characteristic of aromatic hops and an upfront bitterness that pinched the tongue. Dortmund took those two brews and combined them to create a great middle ground that had the rich maltiness of the Bavarian Helles along with the crisp richness and aromatic personality of a German Pilsner.

Dortmunders always have around a 5.5% alcohol level with a dark blond hue. Often you can find a biscuit, toffee, and caramel flavor to the style with a firm mouthfeel and an even, dry tone.

As the industrial revolution and industry in general declined in the Ruhr District, so did the sales of the Dortmunder Brew. By 1994, the famous Dortmund Union Brewery has closed its doors and merged with several other Dortmund brewers under the name Brinkhoff’s Brewery.

Berghoff’s Dortwunder Lager respects the style of German’s distinct brew while adding our own American twist. We created a perfectly balanced all-malt beer starting with a base of US two-row pilsner malt and a lightly-kilned Vienna and Munich malt mix to add that slight caramel flavor we love. A smooth and crisp beer with a classic flavor easy for pairing with a variety of foods or just having on its own after a hard day of work. We like to think this beer is for all of our hard-working men and women out there that put in the hard hours needed to keep this world turning.

Use a Pilsner Glass to serve Dortmunder beers.
Pilsner Glass
Despite the name, Pilsner glasses are great for any light or medium bodied lager, such as Dortmunder, Helles, Vienna, and of course, Pilsner. The fluted shape of the glass promotes head retention and allows the delicate aromatics of lager to be released. They are also designed for drinkers to take large, refreshing gulps.

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