Eris Brewing Co-founders Katy Pizza and Michelle Foik

ERIS Co-founders Katy Pizza and Michelle Foik

Situated in Chicago’s Old Irving Park neighborhood, lies a unique but comfortable mainstay of the area. ERIS Brewery and Cider House was founded by Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza, two people with completely different backgrounds but a fate encounter led them to opening one of Chicago’s premiere Cider Houses. 

Michelle Foik is a tried and true craft veteran. Starting out at Goose Island, she made her way to Virtue Cider and Revolution Brewing, and through some encouragement through their current chief strategy officer that she met at Revolution, she decided to open her own place.

“….he’s the one that really encouraged the idea that I should open up my own place. And so, I said no a lot of times but he’s very persuasive. So that is how I got the opportunity to actually meet Katy. We sat down and made this business plan, and from there we looked at each other and said, might be kind of nice to work together in a company and be, you know, woman owned.”

Katy Pizza’s road to ERIS is much different. As someone with Celiac disease, she strayed away from beers and the such, but ciders were something she always enjoyed. In addition to that, Katy’s origins were far away from the beer and craft industries.

“This wasn’t a direct path for me. … My professional career was in project management through a bunch of different industries. I was at a dot com, I was in telecommunication, … in health insurance, and then medical devices but it wasn’t until I had been kind of on the beach for a while … that I got introduced to Michelle …”

Michelle mentions that working at Virtue got her excited to open ERIS, she realize that there were plenty of misconceptions about hard cider. People would mention to hear and say that they believe cider is always sweet and sugary, part of ERIS mission statement was to educate the appreciation of different styles of hard cider.

“I felt that people just needed to be educated on cider, and if we brought people to Eris, they could try all the different types of ciders we had on draft and honestly, end up liking something. I can’t tell you what cider to like, I can’t tell you it’s not going to be sweet unless you try it.”

So what’s behind the doors at ERIS? Since opening in 2018, their Old Irving Park brewpub has built a following that voted them 2023’s Best Cidery in the US. Here are a few of the power hitters.

Pedestrian is like “Biting into a Granny Smith apple”, we relate you to the apple. Almost everyone knows what a Granny Smith Apple is, it’s going to be green, it’s going to be crisp. It’s going to be a little bit on the tart end and it’s going to be dry.

Van Van Mojo – Van Van Mojo is ERIS’ “craft beer cider”, according to Michelle. Mosaic hops are very relatable and identifiable, thus making them a great addition to the blueberry cider – giving Van Van a leg up with craft beer drinkers.

Blush – Sweet and sour cherry blend with apple – ERIS Blush is reminiscent of the blush on one’s cheeks. It’s a summer favorite among ERIS’ drinkers.

So what do Michelle and Katy see with the future of both ERIS and cider as a whole? Well, it’s complicated. They have long term aspirations of going out of state, but firstly the short term goal is to be Chicago’s “Home for Hard Cider”

“It’s been really cool to see our name (ERIS) and our ciders out in the market, and the fact that people are in love with them and enjoy buying our brand… Technically we are kind of “The Unofficial Cider of Breweries” in Chicago and Illinois.” – as ERIS is available in a number of local brewery tap rooms in Chicago.

Katy adds to this. “I want them [bars and restaurants] to have a cider section on their menu. I don’t want to be lumped in wines, or Meads or fruit beers, … just a cider section.”

Regardless of what happens, ERIS has made a name for itself as a cidery that welcomes everyone, no matter what your preferences are. Be prepared to see them lead the charge of the new cider renaissance in Chicago.