Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chicago Beer - North Side Part 1

I'm going to start with a brewery that is not in Chicago, nor in Illinois.  I had planned on spending a day in Milwaukee, but wasn't feeling well so I only stopped at one place there.

Stonefly is in an odd neighborhood.  It's very hipster, but there's gang graffiti everywhere.  If you've ever been to Mad Planet, it's a couple of blocks down.  It's a cool bar and has a nice attitude about it.  I wasn't feeling well, and didn't really feel like having any brunch, which is what they serve on weekend mornings.  I did, however order some cheesy tots that came in a gigantic bowl, and I did not finish them because it was too much food.

The beers that I had were alright.  I would be willing to give it another shot one of these days, though I don't think I'll have time on this trip.

Now... Chicago.  I took the Metra into the city and hopped onto the Blue Line to get to my first destination, Revolution Brewing.  I was there before they opened, but luckily I saw a large graffiti mural nearby and walked over to check it out.

The bar itself has a nice look to it, lots of wood and tap handles of raised fists go with the Revolution theme.  Beer names don't always fit this theme, which I liked.  Four ounce samples can be had of any beer for $2, with the exception of their Pablo Picasso, which I will talk about later.

I was fairly surprised by a 3.5% beer on the menu.  I believe it was called Workingman Mild and it was quite good.  I've often thought that there is a market for a very low alcohol beer for people who like beer.  I believe in Europe these are referred to as 'Table Beers'.  I don't have details for every beer, but I tried most of them and was surprised at the quality and flavor of them all.  If you do get the Pablo Picasso, get the taster of it.  It's a very strong beer at 9% and you'll likely not want more than the 4oz. sampler.  That being said, it's worth having.

I also had some Bacon Fat Popcorn which was good and they have an amazing Beer Cheese Soup.

There are still a few breweries in the city that I've not had the pleasure of trying, but unless I find somewhere spectacular, I will say that Revolution is the best brewery in the city.

I got back on the Blue Line and headed for Piece.  The last time I was here, I had a very bad experience and decided I would never return, even without having tried any of the beers.  It's been years, I decided to give it another shot.

When I was here last, there were no samples to be had.  These days you can get a sample of anything for $1.  I had everything.

The beers here aren't for me.  The only thing I found worth drinking was their Bitter.  While I enjoyed having real sausage pizza (rest of the country, y u no have good sausage?) the pizza was mediocre and required a bit of doctoring with parmesan, red pepper and italian seasoning to make it good.

At this point I got back on the Blue Line, took a bit of a walk and ended up at Haymarket Pub and Brewery.  The beer here is good and worth checking out.  I was a bit drunk at this point (yay public transportation) and I don't believe I had any food... which is against my own personal rule.  Doh.

At this point my phone died... which was upsetting as I was supposed to be meeting folks later, and only had a vague idea of where I was going.  I took the bus I was supposed to take, but ended up being on it a tad longer than I should have.  Heading west I saw Sheffield's.  This has been a craft beer bar for years, well before it was a trendy thing to do.  The staff is knowledgeable and the crowd is generally friendly.  This is my second time here in as many years and got the same bartender.  I always forget his name, but he's a cool cat. I asked a lady who happened to have her laptop for some directions and was about to head out on my way and ran into someone I knew from Omaha. It's a small world in the beer community.

At this point I knew generally where I was and where I needed to go.  It was a 5 mile trek and I had planned on taking a bus for most of it, but that didn't work out...

I decided to stop at Uberstein as it was on the way.  If you haven't been it's a HofBrau owned Americanized German Bier Hall that has the entire HofBrau line on tap.  You will get a full liter unless you ask for just a half liter, and the beer is $7 for that half liter.  It's overpriced, but the Cubs game was starting soon, so it can be an interesting place.

I will personally tell you the story about what happened here if you ask me about it.  I feel that it's probably not a good story for this forum, however.  Just know that I planned on one and done, but ordered a second beer as I was highly amused.

After this I walked down past Wrigley and west on Addison.  I don't know what law covers no busses in sight until you're exactly between bus stops, but I ended up walking the entire 5 miles.  I stopped at one bar that I couldn't tell you the name of. They had decent taps, but not much was going on so I took off.

My last stop was at Mirabell which is just east of 94 on Addison, across from the Target.  Hey, an authentic German bar in Chicago.  Good German taps, the menu looked good, etc.  I will be back here in the future.

Today my legs are sore, but other than that, no hangover.  I'm a bit upset that I didn't make it to Local Option, but I'm thinking by the time I got there, there would be no way I could have enjoyed the beer any longer and would have just been getting drunk for the sake of it.

Maybe next time I'm in town I can go there first.  I'm still hoping I can hit Lake Bluff Brewing, Two Brothers and Three Floyd's this week.  I'm planning on doing this tomorrow.  Then maybe a stop at Mike's Highway Pub in Kenosha.

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