Craft beer and live music are the draw for new watering hole Chalk, which has already gotten good reviews on Metromix.Jean Lotus/Staff

It’s still an Irish bar, in theory.

Murphy’s Pub at 7414 W. Madison St. has been given a complete makeover and renamed “Chalk” after the white chalky cliffs in Western Ireland. But the bar is also named for its new décor: chalkboards on almost every wall (and soon to be painted in the basement).

“Craft beers and live music,” is what owner Matt Mathey said when asked about the rebranding.

Wife Lisa, a nurse practitioner came up with the chalkboard idea. “People are loving the chalkboard stuff,” Mathey said.

They’re also loving the boutique beers he’s put on draft.

“I’ve got 20 draft handles in the bar and I’m in the process of changing all over to craft beer,” he said.

Customers demand more variety, he noted, and they’re willing to pay $5-6 for the creative flavors in craft beers.

“They all have jobs, I guess,” he said. “They won’t bat an eye if it’s the beer they want. They all want the IPA. They want the better quality product.”

“There are so many different flavors. These craft breweries are so creative in what they’re using to make the beers: citrus, bananas, fruit, hops. It’s crazy how they’re trying to outdo each other.”

Chalk will also focus on bringing “live music to [Madison].”

Rolling Stones tribute band Hot Rocks performed for the soft opening in late February, and Mathey said they’ll be back. A live-band karaoke has been performing on Thursdays. The upstairs party room has already hosted a couple of successful parties, he said.

Metromix website has already dubbed Chalk “one of the hottest new places in the suburbs,” according to Mathey.

But it’s the beer selection that seems to be bringing in the customers.

“They will try different stuff. A Miller Light drinker won’t drink anything else. But craft beer drinkers wander up and down the handles, try three different beers.”

He’s also surprised how many women are turning out to be craft beer enthusiasts. Beers such as Neapolitan Milk Stout, produced by Saugatuck Brewing Company, appeal to the female palate.

“It’s a dark stout beer, hints of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Smooth and creamy. It’s just not like your typical beer,” he said.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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