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A Beer Veteran Tries His Hand at Cider Brewmaster Gregory Hall brings 'advanced' cider to the U.S.

By Judy Sutton Taylor

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When Gregory Hall, brewmaster and marketing guru at Chicago's Goose Island Beer Co., visited York, England, in 2000, he stumbled upon a cider festival. It made a big impression on him. He recalls seeing 40 hard ciders, all made by small producers. Some were sweet, like the ones most Americans are familiar with, but there were also dry and tart varieties.

The range opened his eyes to the possibility of bringing "advanced" cider to the U.S. Hall spent more than 20 years at Goose Island, which his father founded, before it was sold to Anheuser-Busch for $38.8 million in 2011. Instead of retiring or taking a well-funded vacation, he immediately went to work on his long-simmering plan to do for cider what he had done for craft beer: make it a drink of choice among educated consumers open to expanding their horizons and interested in beverage-food pairings.

His new venture, Virtue, founded with friend Stephen Schmakel, released its first cider, an English-style variety called RedStreak, in April. Served only on tap--part of Hall's mission to keep waste to a minimum--RedStreak is poured at more than 50 Chicago bars and restaurants.