Friday, March 5, 2010

Beer Trip 5.5

Beer Trip 5.5 would be different than our previous "Point Fives". Usually we left on a Friday morning and came back on Saturday night. This year we extended the trip by one day and didn't come back until Sunday. We set out Friday morning heading north. This trip we had myself, Dan, Andy, Rob, and Dave the newbie. Our first destination was Court Avenue Brewing Company in Des Moines, IA. Located in an older area of town, CABC has a great atmosphere, with brews to match. We enjoyed a delicious meal with our brews and then set back out, this time headed east. Our next stop was in Rock Island, IL and the Blue Cat Brewpub. Located near the river, it was obvious this was a popular gathering spot. We sampled their offerings and moved back out to the RV.
From there we headed towards Chicago. There, we were to meet some good friends we met through a beer site, John and Travis. They’d hung out with us on BT V when we were in Wisconsin and they were driving down to Chicago to enjoy the Beer Trip experience once more. We met them at Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, IL. To say the location was odd is an understatement. It was dark but it appeared to be in the middle of an industrial/office park. The restaurant itself seemed to be a cookie cutter office building. Fortunately the inside didn’t match the drab outside. The place was packed and we had to wait for quite a while to get our table. It was worth it though. We stuffed ourselves and tried several of their beers. From there we checked into our hotel and went to our last stop of the night, Lunar Brewing in Villa Park, IL. They were what I think of as a local hangout bar. It’s a small place, but hopping. We were able to get a quick look at the brewing setup. It was very small which made it even cooler. There was a somewhat heated argument about beers being liked solely on the label. Unfortunately one of the group’s favorite breweries was used as an example. It ended up okay though, ‘cuz beer people are about the beer and we still had a great time.

The next morning was the biggest stop on the trip. We were able to get a private tour at Goose Island’s brewery which usually doesn’t give tours. Our tour leader was Tom, the brewing manager at the facility. He started out by handing out safety glasses which is always a good sign. There was an area on the top floor of the brewery with tap handles set up. He gave us all some glasses and said to help ourselves before we set out on the tour. To say the tour was thorough would be an understatement. We’ve been on dozens of tours, but this was the first one we actually got to enter the lab where they test, grow their yeast strains, QC, etc. The bottling line wasn’t running that day so we were able to get an up close and personal look at that. I nerded out a bit when we were in the barrel aging room. I fought the urge to hug the Bourbon County Stout barrels. After the tour we hung out for a bit talking with Tom. We convinced him to sign a Goose Island sticker and put it on the back of the RV. Yeah, we’re cool…

After Goose Island, we made a quick stop at Molly’s Cupcakes so Dan could get some Ron Bennington cupcakes, named in honor of the host of XM’s The Ron & Fez Show, 11AM-3PM XM 202, Sirius 197. After enjoying those, we moved on to Revolution Brewery. They had only opened a few weeks previous, but had heard nothing but good things. We were lucky enough to have a friend hook us up with one of the investors, Matt Rollins, formerly of Southern Tier Brewing out of New York, and the “Matt” of Phin & Matt, one of Southern Tier’s beers.. He met us at the bar there and took us through the whole operation. Very cool place and can see it becoming one of the big brewpubs in the city.

After Revolution we stopped at Half Acre Brewing for a few quick samples and to buy a couple of bombers. Then we went to Piece Pizzeria and Brewing. Again, another packed brewpub. Chicago is really moving up in the beer world and the people are going with them. Great pizza as we had heard and great beers as well. We had to say goodbye to John and Travis at this point. They were staying the night and hitting the beer bars like The Map Room. We, on the other hand, piled back into the RV and headed back west to end the night in the metropolis of Moline, IL.
In Moline we went to Bent River Brewing. There was a band playing and the place was standing room only. We managed to snag a booth and had a few beers before deciding to see if there was more room at Front Street Brewery in Davenport, just across the river in Iowa. Cool little place that was nice and quiet. Hung out with the bartender for a bit and then headed to the hotel to crash.

The next day we only had one stop on the way back to KC, Olde Main Brewing Company in Ames, IA. This was the very first brewery stop on the very first Beer Trip back in 2005 so it was pretty cool to be back. We had a few beers and gorged on the buffet before packing it in and going home.

An awesome trip overall and much nicer having that extra day so we weren’t so rushed. Looking forward to Beer Trip VI in just over a hundred days. Look out Colorado. We’re coming back!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, we met after the New Belgium tasting there at Barley's last month. This is a great blog and these trips sound fantastic! I am pretty jealous of the Goose Island tour! Their rep was really cool at their Grinders tasting not too long ago.