I want to do more traveling but with money being as tight as it is and having a small family, I don’t get all the opportunities I would like. However, I did have the opportunity to visit a couple of good friends in Chicago…we drove from Washington D.C. to Chicago in our little SUV. Ended up staying the night in Cleveland. Overall, we ended up visiting 7 different breweries and a great beer bar / German restaurant. Here is my thoughts on the breweries, beers, and trip in general.
I want to let people know about an app I installed on my phone that helps me locate beer while traveling (at least breweries). BreweryMap is a wonderful little thing that mostly works most of the time and for a beer mapping app, that is great. I’m a huge fan of “The Beer mapping project” but as far as I know I haven’t seen an app for tablets or smart phones from them yet so it is less helpful in the middle of nowhere. The feature I love best about BreweryMap is the “road trip” portion. You enter in your starting and stopping location and it tells you all the breweries you pass (within 20 miles of the freeway or something like that). Love it…really do. If anyone can recommend an app that points me to good beer stores or bars in addition to brewery / brewpubs, I’d love to hear about it.
Since we drove and have a small human with us, we decided to break the trip up into two reasonable days of travel rather than forcing our way through in one long long day. We decided on stopping in Cleveland, partially because of Fathead’s Brewery.
Fathead’s was a great place, huge inside and they had more than a dozen different beers on tap from the brewery. Also the food was good but who cares about food. I, naturally, ordered every beer on the menu as a four ounce sample. It was great. I wouldn’t recommend any of their lagers unfortunately. I won’t review any beer here, just avoid the lagers. Anything else was good to great. Several Belgian style ales, a triple, a dubbel, a saison, were good and their hoppy beers were great. I’d happily drink any IPA from this place whenever. Their imperial stout was also good, hid the alcohol well but it is on the roastier side of stouts, fine by me but my wife commented that it was too much for her.
The second stop on our roadtrip brewery tour was Penrose Brewing Company. I LOVED THIS PLACE!!! They don’t serve food and it seemed to be a relatively new place in general. They had 5 beers on draft and I ordered samples of them all and a full pour of the radler….this place seemed to be going for the “low ABV” saison route and they are doing it well….really well. I recommend all of the beers but my favorites were P2 (a pale ale), devoir (saison), and the radler (saison mixed with in house made grapefruit soda). I would definitely go again and I would once again order all the beers. I loved it so much I bought the glass (of course).
We were in Chicago so we were required by law to go to Revolution Brewing. Revolution is a beautiful place, huge bar, those fists are everywhere (even the columns holding the bar up are the iconic Revolution raised fist). They offered 5 ounce pours of beers so I got them all…again (see a pattern yet). I am courteous when I do this and order 3 or 4 at a time…some places have that limit on them.
At Revolution, I focused on IPAs, since that’s usually what I focus on. While we were there, they were serving Dos Osos, Anti-Hero, Illinois Golden Ale, Double Fist, Meltdown IPA, Crystal Hero, and District North Line (an India Pale lager) for hoppy offerings. I ended up ordering everything eventually but as far as the hoppy beers…this place has wonderful IPAs. The Crystal Hero was Anti-hero single hopped with crystal..not my favorite of the group. Dos Osos (which is a collaboration between Revolution and Firestone Walker) was amazing….Illinois Golden and North line were equally wonderful. I would definitely go back here, I did not buy a glass though…maybe that’s reason enough to go back. ISO Revolution snifter. My wife loved the Bottom Up Wit…a wonderful summer beer.
Half Acre Beer Company is an interesting place and where we headed after Revolution, they are pretty close to one another. No food at Half Acre but they had about 8 beers on draft. I ordered all the samples and a full pour of the Half Acre / Tired Hands blend of HopHands and Daisy Cutter. It tasted like Daisy Cutter, mostly.
Urban Legend Brewing Company is a cool place. We hit this place up along with Imperial Oak Brewing company (below) on the last full day we were in Chicago. This is the kind of place that is in one of those industrial parks were most ot he businesses open with huge garage style doors. There is a small seating area, some seating at a bar and then just fermentation tanks around this warehouse. I like the feel of places like this…it has a customer facing side to it and it is a manufacturing business. Also, the beer was good. Some of the beer wasn’t my style, imperial red…huge stouts…but they had a mosaic pale ale on that I thought was great….also their imperial IPA was good as well. I ordered all 7 beers on draft and would definitely go back one day. No glasses though…step up that glassware game OK?
The last place we ended up on this marathon of breweries was Imperial Oak Brewing Company…this was a great find. They only had two beers on draft of their own and one ran out while we were there. Initially I was disappointed, but then I saw someone that didn’t look like a bartender behind the bar. I walked up and started talking to him. He was the owner / brewer of this place that hadn’t technically had their grand opening yet (it was scheduled for the following weekend). I got a behind the scenes tour and got to sample beer out of the fermentation tanks in the back. I was pleased by this a lot and really enjoyed talking with him. I neglected to get a photo of the artistic tap handles carved out of wood but the owner makes them himself. Really beautiful pieces. I think that place has some exciting plans and good beer in the works. I would definitely return to sample more beer. I bought the glass (of course).
So all-in-all, a long weekend and six new breweries. Other beer related activities..we drank a bunch of homebrew and I ended up brewing a collaboration with Ambrosia ales…the write up on that beer will be posted on this blog in a month, Ambrosia ale’s write up on the brewday is here. So look forward to that and hopefully I will make it back to Chicago soon for more beer and breweries. What did I miss? I’m sure there was a lot of cool beer stuff in Chicago that I failed to check out…
“They’ve hung everything on me except the Chicago fire.” – Al Capone