I have been to Chicago many times in the last 8 years but always failed to visit any proper beer establishments and never any breweries. The closes I got was a quick pint in the Piece brewery in Bucktown but I never had a chance to sit down and try a number of their beers. Time for that change on this visit.
First port of call was Goose Island, specifically the brewpub in Clybourne which I believe is the original brewery? Wile AB-Inbev now own goose Island, as far as I know the two brewpubs were not part of the sale. I'm not sure how it all works now. Do the brewpubs brew Goose Island beers still? Or do they only brew their own stuff and the pub serves Goose Island beer from the main brewery?
Most of the beer from Goose Island are available in Ireland so nothing to write about from a beer perspective other than it's great to drink them fresh from the tap rather than in bottle. The food was also excellent. I was on a real pulled pork bender after having it at a 4th of July BBQ/house party the day before so that's what I had and it was not the last time of the trip to enjoy pulled pork.
Next it was time for a brewpub serving beers I can't get at home. Revolution is a cool bar serving some very good beer. We had just eaten so were were only after beer. Eventually enough space filled up for a light appetiser so we had some sort of popcorn topped with bacon and melted parmesan cheese and it was very tasty.
I had to get a sample of everything but was restricted to 5 at a time so I got the main 5 I wanted and the others at the table ordered the remaining beers so I got to try everything.
Cross of gold - nice crisp Citrusy golden ale. refreshing and tasty.
Strange bird - Sweet Belgian biscuity malts with citrus American hops. Lovely beer.
Iron fist - Big standard ipa. Not bad. Little watery.
Coup d'état - Fantastic saison. Very strong both abv and flavour. Slightly sour. Loved it.
Rise - Coffee/caramel but floral too. Not bad but a little too strong for me. The alcohol is cloying.
Repo man - Rye stout - Lovely and easy drinking. Smooth. Sweetish but not cloying. Lots of caramel.
I had this on cask also. Fantastic. The chocolate comes out more.
Double fist double IPA - Yummy stuff, not much more to be said.
Anti hero ipa - Yummy stuff also. Full of citrus grapefruit etc but also a strong malty backbone.
I got the Anti-Hero T-Shirt. As I was waiting at the merchandise counter to see if they had a larger size (prefer baggy) I noticed the wind pick up and it got very dark. By the time I got back to the table there was thunder, lightning and torrential rain. I have never seen so much rain fall at once. People ran in absolutely soaked. Unfortunately the power went (we had already paid our bill) so they had to refuse new customers. I ordered a pint of Anti-Hero while we waited for the rain to stop.
Afterwards we went to Piece brewery in Bucktown which is a few doors down from my wife's cousin and our last stop downtown before we headed to the burbs for the night. I did not take any notes for some reason. None of the beers stood out as being outstanding, instead they were all very well made and tasty beers and the only criticism is that they were too by the book. This means they seem like excellent beers that are probably consistently good but lack any real in your face quality. The Pizza is also pretty excellent. I just grabbed a slice for the car ride to Thornton as I would be eating soon after we got there.
And lastly to the Suburbs and time for one brewpub not far from our Thornton family. Flossmoore Station is a converted railway station and is now an awesome restaurant and brewery with an excellent beer garden. I was not sure what to expect when I got there, I expected and hoped for a decent brewpub with nice food and some good beer. I was blown away as it happens.
Firstly I got the mother of all tasting trays. I asked the waitress to bring a sample of everything and she did just that. There were 16 samples in total and I believe that may be the most samples I have ever had in one sitting up until that point. With so many beers, there were bound to be a few not to my liking. The lighter lager like beers were a little watery and meh, it's rare I come across a light lager or pseudo lager that I like though. Also there was a fruity monstrosity which I don't recall other than I could not drink it but that's just me as I don't like very many fruit beers. Most of the rest were solid and lovely beers. The stand-outs were the Red Rye ale packed full of big citrus hops and then Hammersmith which is an English style session bitter that any British expat might get teary eyed over and stay that way all night as it's only 3.5% making it an all nighter.
While visitors to Chicago might not actually consider heading out to the suburbs, there is a regular train service downtown and I know from previous trips where I got off at Homewood (stop before Flossmoore) that it's about an hour long journey. It might be worth it to make the trip as the food was excellent as well as most of the beer. I found it stunning and look forward to visiting again some time. Perhaps next year as the next family reunion is going to be Michigan or Indiana.
So that's it for Illinois, I visited on the way home from Colorado for a few hours and headed to Bucktown again for lunch and drinks at the famous Lilie's Q near the Piece brewery. If you want something more interesting that Pizza while drinking at Piece, head here because they BBQ on site and their Pulled Pork is perfection itself. They also have a every impressive tap line-up and bottle selection.
The Colorado reports are next to come and probably what a lot of readers are really waiting for.