Tuesday, September 25, 2018

5 Taprooms: Whiling Away a Saturday Afternoon on Chicago's Northwest Side

Last weekend, I tried to convince my husband to take me to the Cubs v White Sox game, the Crosstown classic. The ultimate rivalry, Chicago's two baseball teams, northside vs southside, promised to be full of excitement. The Cubs are on the cusp of winning the division and the White Sox are in the bottom of theirs with nothing to gain but pride. Knowing all this, I still couldn't talk him into going to the game. I even played the "it's my birthday and our anniversary card." Nope, no way.

It was a gorgeous fall day and instead, we made the trek into the city to check out some of the many taprooms that have popped up in the city. We planned our journey the night before and with the exception of Half Acre, limited ourselves to five taprooms all located on the northwest side of the city. Our oldest son, who recently turned 21, wanted to join us. 

Our impromptu tour ended up being a lot of fun and in my book, was a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in the city!


4257 N Lincoln Ave

Sasquatch was just part of the interesting decor...
Half Acre is one of the larger and more widely distributed beers of the tap rooms we decided to visit. There are two tap rooms and the Lincoln Avenue tap room is the original. I didn't realize it until we decided to visit, but the Lincoln Avenue location is where they only have the "experimental" beers on tap. Not knowing this in advance, I was looking forward to having my favorite, Daisy Cutter IPA. I wasn't disappointed in what I did sample. I ordered a 4 beer sampler of Fader Lager, Space IPA, Vallejo IPA, and Shrub Tundra Coffee Brown Ale. My favorite was Space. Nice nose and just enough hops for this hophead. The Shrub Tundra was interesting and I liked the infusion of coffee in the IPA. 

L-->R: Fader Lager, Space IPA, Vallejo IPA, ShrubTundra Coffee Brown Ale
Revolution Brewing
3340 N. Kedzie


I was excited to visit Revolution, which I considered being on par with Lagunitas, and I wasn't disappointed. We pulled up to a non-descript warehouse-type building. There was no signage, but Mrs Google assured us that this was the place. The entrance to the brewery was marked on the door and we walked down a long hallway into a cavernous taproom, which is surrounded by the brewery. While Revolution doesn't offer a "sampler", they have sample sizes of all the beers on tap and I chose Freedom of Press, a sour ale made with black currents; Farm to Fist, a wet-hopped American IPA; and Working Mom, an Imperial Brown Ale, which I later found out was 13.2% alcohol. See what happens when you go for the name? I loved Farm to Fist, which was an even better version of their very excellent Fist City. I don't normally love fruit infused beers, and while Freedom of Press was delicious, it wasn't a beer I'd choose again. My husband loved Working Mom--for me, it was just too strong! But I can see how a hard working mom might appreciate it....

L-->R: Freedom of Press Sour Ale, Farm to Fist American IPA (wet hopped), Working Mom Imperial Brown Ale (alcohol 13.2%)

3057 N. Rockwell

Mike and Tom in the walkway to the entrance
Metropolitan is located in an old factory along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Parts of the building are still being rehabbed, but this tap room was the most beautiful of all the places we visited. Rustic/industrial yet warm and inviting, the place was packed with families and dogs! We should have brought Cocoa. There was a wall of windows overlooking the river and a nice patio outside. I was disappointed to see that they only brew lagers here. My husband was thrilled and he loved the beer here. I found 3 beers I wanted to sample: Krankshaft, a Kolsch; Flywheel, a pilsner; and Jet Stream, a wheat beer. After drinking all those IPAs, these tasted bland to me--I'd like to go back and try them again with a clean palate! I think it would be fun to go there in the winter,  just to enjoy the views!

L-->R: Krankshaft Kolsch, Flywheel Pilsner, and Jet Stream Wheat.
Maplewood Brewing
2717 N. Maplewood

Tom and me waiting outside to go inside
I had never heard of this brewery, but my son Tom saw the sign from the highway while sitting in traffic on his way home from work. He was curious about Maplewood and so we added it to our list. We drove down a street lined with homes but at the end of the block was a factory and across the street, a tiny tavern. We figured that "back in the day", the workers from the factory could go to the bar across the street after work for a beer or 2. We had to wait to go in, as the bar was really tiny and it was full, but the wait wasn't long. I continued with my sampling, ordering 3: Drink Dat Citra IPA, Drink Dat Mosaic IPA, and Charlatan, an American pale ale, which was my favorite.

L-->R Drink Dat Citra IPA, Drink Dat Mosaic IPA, Charlatan American Pale Ale
Hopewell Brewing
2760 N. Milwaukee

I like my tap rooms dark, like my mind...
We added this taproom to our list upon the recommendation of our waitress at lunch. Out of all the places we visited, this was my least favorite. The tap room is really bright and reminded me of an ice cream parlor. I like to drink my beer in the dark, I guess. The crowd was really young--probably a reflection of the neighborhood where the taproom is located. I don't know if it was the atmosphere or my palate just being tired of beer but we didn't think the beer there was anything special. In fairness to the brewery, I have to add that Hopewell's beers are very highly rated. We ordered a sampler of Family Saison, Clique IPA, Outside Voice, Swift IPA, First Lager, and 24:37 IPA. Out of those beers, I liked the Swift IPA the best.

Counterclockwise from the bottom: Family Saison, Clique IPA, Outside Voice, Swift IPA, 24;37 IPA, and First Lager
This turned out to be a really fun day for all 3 of us! I was worried about how I'd do trying all this beer, but as it turns out, ordering the samplers was the way to go for me. I liked being able to try so many different beers. Our favorites? My husband loved Half Acre, while Tom and I liked Revolution the best. Tom also liked Maplewood because of its small size and relatively unknown status. We all loved Metropolitan's ambiance and the beer was good too. We were unanimous that Hopewell wouldn't be on our return list. I'd like to visit Half Acre's Balmoral tap room, where they have more of their "normal" beers available. For people who want to learn more about the brewing process, Half Acre and Revolution have tours available and they are quite popular. I'm looking forward to visiting a few more taprooms this winter!

The beautiful patio along the Chicago River at Metropolitan.
Happy 30th anniversary to us!
Have you ever done a beer tour like this? IPA or Lager? We have so many tap rooms in Chicago that it was hard to narrow it down to 5! We've been to quite a few but this was the first time we did 5 at once!

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run: Marcia, Erika, and Patti


30 comments :

  1. Aww I'm sorry he wasn't onboard with the Cubs game. But I'm glad you found an activity you all enjoy. Looks like a fun day!

    ReplyDelete

  2. How fun! IPA all the way. I left our event early last night so I could have a local beer at the hotel bar. How can they have an event at Navy Pier and just serve grocery store beer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What did you have? And right, why would anyone want grocery store beer?

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a fun afternoon with both your son and your husband! I'm curious - why didn't he want to go to the baseball game?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The game was on the south side at Sox park and he didn't want to go there. If is was at Wrigley? Maybe...

      Delete
  4. Ugh...not being a beer drinker, this is a foreign language to me LOL I wish my palette liked beer, though, because it's so readily available (and usually much cheaper than the drinks I prefer LOL). Thankfully, the ciders have been all the rage in recent years, and those make me smile ;-) Sounds like a great adventure for you guys!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, huh. What drinks do you prefer that are so expensive?

      Delete
  5. This sounds like such a fun way to spend an afternoon! I've just been learning more about beer the past couple years. I used to think I didn't like beer but turns out I just didn't like the cheap stuff college kids drink :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And with that last statement, you just nailed it! This is good stuff!

      Delete
  6. What a fun time! I honestly love wine a lot more than beer BUT coming from a beer town with a beer loving husband I have done this before and really enjoyed it. I appreciate the detail that goes into making the different types. I like IPAs and lagers depending on the flavors... I also like the dark beers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've been doing this for years, but never so many taprooms at once. It was really fun!

      Delete
  7. That sounds like a great way to enjoy a nice afternoon. I'm discovering there are a lot of breweries in Colorado, and I don't like beer! I just learned of a big cider place not too far away and would like to check it out at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might have to change your mind--we tried some fruity brews that were pretty good!

      Delete
  8. Sounds so fun! I'm a huge IPA fan and am a bit partial to West Coast IPAs. My husband and I brew beer, so I usually nerd out a lot over all the hops used in IPAs. Chicago does have some really good breweries (as does Northwest Indiana!).

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a FUN afternoon! I need to make a trip back to Chicago... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you must! But only if you call me so we can go out for a beer or 2!

      Delete
  10. Happy Anniversary! Count me in for a good beer (or two), after all...PoPo. I don't get into the specifics of what makes them taste good, other than yummy verses not yummy. ;) I think I fall into the IPA category though. We had fun visiting a taproom in Mobile recently. Not that many options here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had that yummy Good People while in Birmingham! Being married to a homebrewer makes me seek it out.

      Delete
  11. Event though I am not a beer drinker, this looks like a fun way to spend the day! It's great when the kids are old enough to go drinking with :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This sounds like a lot of fun! We only have a couple of tap rooms around here and they are not close to each other. I don't think I've heard of any of these beers. This sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Revolution and Half Acre are available regionally--I don't know how far away they're sold. It was a really fun day!

      Delete
  13. Sounds like a fun day. Probably not for me since I'm not a big beer drink (and wouldn't know an IPA from a pilsner. And my husband doesn't drink, so there's that. I love that your son went a long with you (and seems to have a pretty sophisticated beer palate!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know whether or not to be proud or nervous! LOL

      Delete
  14. Our older son, a "Mr. Mom" stay at home Dad, works part time in the tap room of a local craft brewery. Visiting a small brewery and feasting in their libations is a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. If you're ever in Rhode Island.... (Insert hug emoticon here).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm all about trying regional beers! If I ever get out east...

      Delete
  15. I've been to breweries before but never a day of touring like that! We will have to do that one weekend. My boyfriend and I love craft beer! I'm not an IPA fan, I'm more of a lager fan. I also like Porters and Stouts when they are made right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've got some good craft breweries in Tampa! Have you ever checked them out?

      Delete