World of Beer opens with selection of 500 craft beers

Craft beer franchise World of Beer opened in downtown Evanston on Tuesday.

Skylar Zhang/The Daily Northwestern

Craft beer franchise World of Beer opened in downtown Evanston on Tuesday.

Jia You, Assistant City Editor

Starting this week, Evanston residents can enjoy 500 kinds of craft beer close to home.

Craft beer franchise World of Beer opened Tuesday its downtown location, 1601 Sherman Ave., featuring bare brick walls, black leather stools and hundreds of beer bottles behind the glass counter.

General manager Mark Damas said he was thrilled to open the business, which he called “an exciting and different approach to beer.” World of Beer offers 50 draft beer selections on tap and many more in bottles from all over the U.S. and the world.

The franchise first proposed a downtown beer-only bar to the Evanston City Council in January 2012, but aldermen stalled the franchisee’s application because city ordinance requires restaurants to serve food along with alcohol. The franchise eventually added a kitchen to its proposal, which the council passed unanimously in April.

Though the bar offers a small menu of light bites such as hot dogs, Damas said he encourages customers to bring in food from other restaurants.

Evanston resident Lars Mothander, who called himself a craft beer fan, said he was the first customer at the doors for the 3 p.m. opening. Sipping from his beer flight, which features four different types of beer in sample glasses, Mothander said he would recommend the bar to colleagues.

“Seems like a comfortable place,” Mothander said. “I’ll definitely be back.”

The new business occupies a space that had been vacant for many months, said Steve Griffin, the city’s community and economic development director.

“Whenever we can get a new business to open, that’s a very good thing for the city,” Griffin said.

Though Damas acknowledged craft beer costs more, he said the bar aims to attract a diverse range of customers, including NU students and faculty. About 400 people attended the bar’s VIP party for its Facebook fans Monday, half among them NU students, Damas said. The bar is also hosting a beer tasting event Wednesday for students from the Kellogg School of Management.

“We’re looking to attract any age group that is looking for alternatives to mainstream beer,” Damas said.

A specialty at the bar is beer shots, where customers can take five-ounce shots of beer combinations, Damas said.

On Thursdays, the bar will host World of Beer University Night, when customers can enjoy select drafts at half-price.

While the bar promotes craft beer, employees will follow a strict alcohol policy, Damas said. The bar does not admit customers younger than 21 after 7 p.m., and staff will check IDs at the door. The bartender will double-check IDs on anyone who “looks like they are under 35” when they buy drinks, Damas said.

With LCD TVs hanging around the bar, Mothander, 34, said he hopes the restaurant would allow him to enjoy “a good beer selection” and watch games at the same time.

Damas said he does not intend to turn the place into a sports bar, but will screen select games such as football and basketball.

“The Super Bowl for sure,” he said.