By Sally Ehrmann
Eris Brewery and Cider House, Chicago’s first female-owned cider taproom, celebrates two years in business this winter. The cider house serves Chicago’s craft beer scene with specialty brews, bites and a rotating draft of about eight flavored hard ciders such as cherry, pear or coffee.
After years of planning, Eris opened its doors on the Northwest Side in 2018. Throughout its history, the Chicago beer community has always been “supportive” of this first female-owned cider taproom, according to Katy Pizza, a managing partner in the business.
“You definitely feel older, smarter, and really proud,” Pizza said. “We’ve had some people who’ve been with us this whole time. Our employees — we’re super proud of our team. Certain areas and processes are a lot more sophisticated and evolved than where we started out.”
The Brewers Association published a 2018 study finding that Chicago is home to the most breweries in the U.S. The Windy City area leads the nation in number of breweries per metro area with 167 and counting. Many of Chicago’s breweries are categorized as micro or craft breweries, leading to the rise in Chicago’s status as a beer city.
Eris is unique with its focus on cider, though. Eris founder Michelle Foik got her start in the beer industry more than 20 years ago, helping to start Revolution Brewing and becoming part of the management team at Goose Island Brewing Company. Only 29% of brewery workers are female, according to a study from Auburn University.
“Now that I’m at this point, it’s challenging. It’s proud. It’s hopefully allowing a pathway for someone else to understand the ups and downs of how you get to a certain position and the ability to be able to talk about it,” Foik said. “I would love to have an ability to mentor or help, or even to get help from other women. Luckily for us, we have a big women’s network. There is a lot of us in it. Just not a lot of us talk about it. And we should.”
Looking to the future, Foik hopes to expand the brewery and taproom and offer more distribution options within the Chicago brewing community.