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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: A Breeze Through The Windy City

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we spend a couple of days in Chicago trying out a few beers.

I was in Chicago to pick up my daughter, Brhea, from Loyola University. Before the packing and moving, we had time to tour the Windy City and stop by a few bars and restaurants. Chicago is one of America's great tavern towns. You could easily spend a few lost weekends on Clark Street and only scratch the surface.

One of the places we stopped at was Sheffield's Beer and Wine Garden just a few blocks from Wrigley Field. They have several bars at Sheffield's, plus an outdoor beer garden. We sampled two interesting brews. Two Brothers Victor's MemoriAle Altbier was a highlight of the trip to Chicago. Brewed about 30 miles west of Chicago, this draught beer was a dark and malty brew that was very refreshing. Later during the trip at another location I had the chance to try Two Brothers Domaine DuPage, a French Country-style ale. That brew was in a bottle and did not quite measure up to the Altbier, perhaps because it was served ice cold, but was still worth trying. Also while at Sheffield's we had Founders Brewing Centennial IPA from Grand Rapids, Mich. This is a crisp IPA that the American Homebrewers Association Beer Judge Certification Program uses as its example of an IPA. You get a decent head, 7.2 percent alcohol by volume, plenty of floral hop characteristics and 46 IBUs from this brew.

While walking near the Chicago River we decided to head underground below Michigan Avenue to stop in at the Billy Goat Tavern. The Billy Goat was made famous by the late columnist Mike Royko, who used to meet up with alter ego Slats Grobnik for a beer and conversation at the bar. It is also the basis for the Saturday Night Live "Cheeseburger" routines. We had a Billy Goat Dark that is contract brewed for the bar. It was nothing special, but the Billy Goat is one of those half real, half mythical bars you need to cross off your list on a visit to Chicago.

While in Schaumburg to visit the IKEA store, we stumbled across a Ram Brewery location along the access road to the giant Swedish retailer. The Ram Brewery was crowded with Bulls fans when we stopped in for a quick beer before the shopping. Luckily, we decided to try the Big Horn Nefarious Nelson Stout. This stout was excellent, with nice firm roasted barley notes and a good dose of sweetness.

Also during our visit we decided to have lunch at the Chicago Brauhaus on North Lincoln Ave. to sample the German specialties, including the Schweine Schnitzel. We had half liters of Spaten Mai Bock and Stiegl Pils to wash down the meal. The Spaten was Munich fresh and a true seasonal delight.

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