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Best beer for when you can’t get Metropolitan Dynamo

The Reader has been loving on Metropolitan Brewing since July 2008, when cofounder Doug Hurst was still using a six-gallon pilot system. They’d already settled on Dynamo Copper Lager as a flagship beer, and for a decade it was my favorite daily drinker. I’d buy it whenever I succumbed to option paralysis in a liquor store—I knew I’d never regret it. So when Metropolitan retired Dynamo as a year-round beer in spring 2021, my heart broke a little. It’s now a winter seasonal, released in January.

In a city as rich in beer as Chicago, though, I’m not doomed to pine after Dynamo for nine months each year. Last winter I discovered Goldfinger’s Vienna Lager, a year-round part of the lineup at the Downers Grove brewery since it opened in July 2020. Goldfinger has been shipping it in cans since early 2021, and it actually competes with my longtime beloved.

Goldfinger Brewing Company
513 Rogers Street, Downers Grove

Both beers are Vienna lagers, though Goldfinger’s recipe is simpler: just Vienna malt and Czech Saaz hops. They’re both nutty and toasty, as you’d expect, with a hint of toffee. Dynamo looks a shade darker, thanks to some Munich malt, but it tastes brighter—yeast from venerable Munich brewery Augustiner-Bräu gives it a floral nose, like violet custard, and it has a touch of clover honey sweetness. The Goldfinger Vienna Lager feels silkier, with lingering flavors of caramel and baked dates—a complexity that brewer-owner Tom Beckmann attributes to double-decoction mashing. Goldfinger’s naturally carbonated beer has finer bubbles than Dynamo, and both finish dry, with a cleanly earthy bitterness.

I’ll always pick Dynamo first when I can, for old times’ sake. But the Goldfinger Vienna Lager will be around all year—and it proves that Chicago can produce two perfect versions of this beer, each with its own charms.

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