Friday, March 28, 2008

Touring the regional brewpubs (aka why we were MIA)

Business travel has advantages. One of those is the opportunity to check out brewpubs for an expensed dinner out. And if the family pays its own way and tags along, we can all enjoy the experiences--with one of the family members dining for free. And so I, Mrs. Brew Meister, have been inspired as a result of my husband's local travel...

We had the pleasure of going to Indianapolis for the first time. Sure, it was a drive-through town between Chicago and Cincinnati, but now we got to see what it had to offer. I didn't expect much, and I was wrong. Indy has a terrific district called "Broad Ripple", with adorable coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants. We dined at Brugge Brasserie, with a respectable beer selection (and some pretty special fries). But the real treat was hitting the Broad Ripple Brewery. The vegan food selections were only surpassed by the amazing beer. There wasn't one we didn't love! As evidenced by the empty growlers...ahem.

After Indianapolis, we were inspired to hit the Chicagoland region. We toured the Two Brothers Brewery, met the brothers, dined at their new taphouse (also veg friendly--the kids adored going "off menu"), and fell in love with their Domaine Dupage. Later, we check out America's Brewing Company at Walter Payton's Roundhouse, where we got a special tour from Brewmaster Mike Rybinski. The brewery has been as adventurous as making pizza beer (I didn't attempt this tomato-basil concoction) and a blond chocolate beer (really dessert-like; as if a candy bar was melted in it). My current favorites are the coffee stout and barleywine.

Going to Florida was just the death knell for good beer. Having the grandparents to babysit, we went on a mission. Our two months in Europe inspired us to check out a German-inspired bar. At our wits end, we asked the bartender to suggest one spot where we could buy a decent take-home brew. He recommended the strangest place--and my husband had actually heard of it! It is called The Corner Store. It is a round building, in a not-so-friendly neighborhood, but it is run by the quirkiest fellows. Where else can you buy random items like bait, porn, cookies, horseshoes (I bought one), wine, and microbrews?

Since there aren't any vacation or business travel plans for the family in the near future, and we need inspiration for our own next brewing experience, we have to stay relatively local. Next on the list will likely be Goose Island, Flossmoor Station, and Three Floyds. Will the inspiration never cease? At the very least, we have certainly answered why the children think museums are "where they make the beer".

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