Thursday’s early morning wake up followed by a beer-filled day and a late night bedtime made for a rough Friday morning. With less demanding trips lately, Chris and I felt a little out of practice, but being the professionals we are, we ignored the aches in our heads and set out on Friday with excitement in our hearts.
We climbed into the back of Matt and Michelle’s Xterra and hit the road toward the most anticipated visit of the trip: Three Floyds in Munster, Indiana. Along the way, we stopped at Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery in the historic town of Flossmoor, Illinois. As you probably already guessed, it’s located in the old train station right next to the modern day Metra rail tracks.
We all vowed to improve our skills of beer moderation on Friday, which included reducing (slightly) our beer intake, increasing our water intake, and remembering to eat. With this in mind, we took it easy at our first stop of the day. We watched the model train circle the bar on a track high on the wall as we enjoyed our 10-beer taster set. I found their Zephyr Golden Ale to be the perfect hair of the dog beer to get me going. They also offered several fruit beers, Roundhouse Raspberry and Chessie Cherry Wheat, which were interesting.
We hit the road again, but promptly got sidetracked. Barley and Hops Liquors drew us in with their advertisement of craft beer. Matt made a left turn across the busy road to go and see what filled their shelves. Chris mused that the place sold numerous California beers that we don’t get in our beer backwater. But we didn’t go all the way to Illinois to buy California beer, so we filled our bag with bottles of Bell’s, Founders, and Two Brothers.
Our momentum was growing as we got closer to Three Floyds. When we arrived, Matt and Michelle were surprised to see how much the place had grown since their last visit. Located in a quiet industrial park, the brewpub is set back from the street. The sign on the building projected a firey character and should have tipped me off to the attitude inside.
Punk music blasted us as soon as we opened the door. The loud music and hardcore atmosphere drowned out the jackhammer in my head, which was good, but also a little overwhelming while on the upswing of recovery from Thursday night.
Chris joked that he was going to ask for Dark Lord. Their Imperial Stout, Dark Lord is only sold one day a year on Dark Lord Day. A very hyped event, Dark Lord Day had happened a couple of weeks previous. I was relieved that he didn’t because I had no desire to look like a dork. Hey, I may be a beer geek, but I’m no dork. Chris ordered a taster set, which gave me the chance to find a less extreme beer that wouldn’t offend my delicate palate. I chose a pint of Pride and Joy, a beer Three Floyds characterizes as an American Mild. Chris and Matt got a kick out of Marketing Ploy, a collaborative pale ale brewed with Jonathon Cutler of Piece Brewery, so they both ordered one. I guess the brewery thought one marketing ploy just wasn’t enough.
Take your appetite because they have a great food menu. And don’t forget your protective ear wear if you’re a little sensitive that way. While we ate our lunch a woman in her 60s asked us about our filming. She was very sweet and chatty, so Chris asked her what she thought of the brewery. She thought it was pretty good, except for the music. Apparently the lunch was her 46th wedding anniversary present from her husband, who stood nearby as she talked with us. She was a hoot to talk with and a real trooper. Maybe next year her husband will throw in some diamond studded earplugs.
After a quick stop to add a notch on the brewery bedpost, we returned the car to the hotel and went right back out to hit the town. We all enjoyed Piece from the night before and Chris needed more footage for beergeek.TV, so with no argument from any of us, we made a return visit. We arrived earlier than the night before, but being a Friday, the place was filling up quickly. I was happy to have another chance to try their Swinging Single, a Belgian-style single, which I didn’t try the night before. It was fantastic! Not to spoil it, since there’s still one more blog of the trip to go, but Piece was by far my favorite brewpub in Chicago.
Before we knew it, we were off in search of the next brewery on our Friday night tour, Moonshine Brewery in the Wicker Park neighborhood. I’ll admit that I was dragging a bit at this point, but I figured if a 60-something year old woman could manage Three Floyds, I could surely manage Moonshine. To do anything else would have compromised my beer professionalism.
Moonshine’s “urban roadhouse” decor was fun and interesting. The wooden interior and the mason jar glasses made me feel like I was in a cabin in the woods hiding out while my distillery cranked out some rot gut. All I needed was a shotgun. The bartender was very nice as he served us a taster set of beer in tiny jars. He even turned Michelle onto a new iPhone app, Dragon. We were offered a blind taste test of Dewar’s by a nicely dressed woman, but much to her disappointment, the four of us declined.
We departed Moonshine in a cab and headed to yet another highly anticipated visit: The Publican. We planned to have dinner there, but that plan was thwarted by the hour and a half wait. And that time frame was only if some reservations failed to show. I felt like a dog waiting for someone to throw me a bone.
The situation was a huge disappointment to me because I was hungry and about to get very cranky. But we figured what the hell and added our name to the wait list. The hostess then kindly dropped us and a beer list off at a standing only table in the bar area. I liked the idea that she “sat” us in the bar and we didn’t have to hunt for a spot.
The beer choices at The Publican didn’t leave much to desire, as they had an extensive variety of excellent beers. I started with a Goose Island Matilda, while Chris had an Alpha King, Matt the Hercule Stout from Belgium and Michelle the Three Floyds Pride and Joy.
I was also quite pleased to learn that we could order food where we stood. Everyone had raved about the housemade spicy pork rinds, so of course I had to have some. They were every bit as good as people said and they melted in my mouth. I will admit, however, that the powdered cheddar cheese sprinkled on top was a little odd. Each time I took a bite, the cheese flew all over the table and even into my beer. We also ordered a plate of selected ham, which we gobbled down.
Besides the need for reservations, the other tip I will offer about The Publican is that it is a little on the dressier side. And by dressier I mean fashionable. Our group, outfitted in jeans (except Chris who was in shorts) and beer shirts, stood out as not like the others.
We decided to cut our losses at The Publican and bail before we could be disappointed. Since Matt and Michelle had not made it to Revolution Brewing with us the night before, we gladly agreed to return and eat there. We entered to find a busy place and up to an hour wait, which was once again disappointing. I forgot that we were in the big city now where popular places fill up and not the beer backwater of home where there’s always a seat in the house. We did learn, however, that we could sit in the waiting area where we could order both beer and food from a waiter. That was just fine with us. With long benches and a few beer barrel tables, it turned out to be a very comfortable alternative to waiting for a table.
I drank a Bottom Up Belgian Wit with a grilled tofu sandwich. Chris liked the Anti-hero IPA the night before, so he ordered another one to go with his pulled pork sandwich. Matt and Michelle each opted for the Let’s Have a War Belgian-style strong pale ale to go with their pizza. Even though it was loud, Revolution was a nice way to end our second day in Chicago.
It had been another long day, but the four of us pressed on in the name of beer travel. It was an ambitious beer schedule, but it can be done. So, if you decide to take a similar journey in the Windy City, just remember that we would never lead you astray. Trust us, we’re professionals.