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Friday, October 12, 2012

From Second City to Mad City: Day Four

After a good night's sleep in Tinley Park, IL, we were off to my inaugural visit to The Windy City.  I had driven through Chicago on numerous occasions, but never stopped for any particular reason... aside from the ridiculous traffic, that is!  Our first stop of the day was Piece, a pizzeria and brewpub located in downtown Chicago.  Brewslut had been there once before on her first trip to Great Taste, but this was my first time.  Piece had attained national attention when President Obama specifically requested its beer for an event at The White House not long after his election.

Pleeps poses at Piece
We parked right on the street about a block up from Piece.  Inside, the spacious brewpub offered multiple levels and seating options, including a long, curvy bar and plenty of tables.  We sat at the bar and ordered our first round.  I went with the Dysfunctionale IPA and Brewslut opted for the Flat Iron Stout.  We also ordered a personal pizza topped with chicken and banana peppers as a snack, which was mighty tasty!

Tap list at Piece
During our visit, Piece was in the midst of celebrating its 11th anniversary.  To celebrate, they released a beer named "It Goes to Eleven," which was an obvious nod to one of my favorite movies of all time, This Is Spinal Tap.  The anniversary beer was a highly hopped IPA with bold notes of citrus and pine.  We also sampled 3oz. pours of Golden Arm K├Âlsch and Top Heavy Hefe.

Piece tap handles
Being my first visit to Chicago proper, I had a fairly long list of places to hit.  Unfortunately, due to limited time, we had to make a decision between Revolution Brewing Company, which was in closer proximity to Piece, or Haymarket Pub & Brewery.  Based on my research, I was more interested in Haymarket, but logic outweighed curiosity this time around, so we set the controls for Revolution.  Haymarket would have to wait until next time.

Pleeps loves monkeying around!
When we got to Revolution, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the large lunch crowd and impressed with the decor.  The spacious brewpub boasted lots of seating, including a wrap-around bar and a separate upstairs room complete with additional tap handles.  It's also worth mentioning that the tap handles are pretty awesome (they were fist-shaped and different colors).

Octagonal fisting?!
I noticed a few hoppy selections on the draft menu, so we decided to go with samplers this time around.  I chose Iron Fist Pale Ale, Anti-Hero IPA and Double Fist DIPA.  Brewslut's choices were at the opposite end of the spectrum: Eugene Porter, Repo Man Rye Stout and Rosa, the latter of which was an ale brewed with hibiscus flowers.  My favorite of the lot was actually the straight-up Pale Ale, which was hoppy and nicely balanced, making it quite easy to drink.  The Rye Stout was also quite tasty.

Tap handles at Revolution
We got talking to one of the managers on duty, and he was nice enough to show me the upstairs room, which wasn't currently open during our visit.  I was quite impressed with the layout and atmosphere of Revolution.  The decor was modern yet had a distinct vintage feel.  Unique light fixtures adorned the tin-style ceiling.  The decorative brick walls complemented the distressed hardwood floorboards and the smooth, polished wainscoting.  We definitely could have stayed here much longer than we did.  The food looked great too.  We'll have to save it for next time we roll through Chicago.

Pleeps was in a silly mood on this particular day!
After visiting Revolution, it was off to Wisconsin, our furthest destination of the trip.  But first, a quick stop to the relatively small Tyranena Brewing Company in nearby Lake Mills, WI.  Brewslut and I rarely order the same beer, but the stars were aligned on this particular evening when we both ordered Dirty Old Man, a delicious barrel-aged Rye Porter.  We'd both had this beer on prior occasions and loved it.  Tonight was no different.  This is, simply put, a great beer!  We concluded our brief visit with a sample of Hop Whore DIPA, which was quite good, although I thought it smelled better than it tasted.

This one could be a postcard!
We finished up our long day with dinner at perennial favorite The Old Fashioned, one of our absolute favorite beer bars in the United States.  Boasting a tap list of around 52 (yes, fifty-two!) Wisconsin-only beers, you can always find something truly unique and hard-to-find, especially for us Pennsylvania folk.  There was about an hour wait for a table and the bar was completely packed, so we found a quiet corner and two chairs near the stairs in the very back of the establishment and waited for our table.  While we waited patiently, we enjoyed our first beers in Madison.  I ordered Templeton Rye from Potosi Brewing Company, a barrel-aged Oatmeal Stout.  Brewslut (wisely, I must add) opted for the New Glarus Cherry Stout.  Originally released as one of its Thumbprint Series beers (the bottles with the red foil around the necks), it was indeed a rarity to see it turn up on tap, especially since it was no longer being produced.  I had a sip of hers and it may very well be the best fruit stout I'd ever tasted.  It was like a stout version of New Glarus' amazing Wisconsin Red.  

We were eventually seated after a lengthy hour-long wait, so we rewarded ourselves with dinner and more beer.  I enjoyed a fish and chips plate with fresh, local perch, walleye, and cod.  Brewslut had tuna salad sandwich.  To wash it down, I went with the beer special of the night, which happened to be Wisconsinite Wheat from Lakefront Brewery out of Milwaukee.  Brewslut got Hinterland's Grand Cru, a barrel-aged Barleywine with Door County cherries.  While she enjoyed it, she'd wished she'd ordered another Cherry Stout.  Can't say I blame her for that!

Afterwards, we enjoyed a pleasant stroll around the Capital building, which was right up the street from The Old Fashioned.  We had planned on visiting Great Dane, but both agreed that we'd had enough for one day, so we retired to our home for the next two nights - Clarion Suites.  Lucky for us, we were able to secure a hotel within walking distance of the event grounds... because there was NO WAY we'd be in any shape to drive after this epic beer festival!

Stay tuned for Part Five, the final episode of our Great Taste Caper.

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