Posted by: marcmwm | September 26, 2008

Beer O’ Clock — Northwestern

A quick tour of Illinois breweries/brewpubs:

Illinois Brewing Company, Bloomington — The place hosts a lot of live music and brews beer. On Beeradvocate, its beers don’t grade out well, ranging from a B- to a D-. Looks like a fun place. From a quick look at the reviews for their “Big Beaver Brown Ale,” the brews come with a funny smell.

Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago — I’ve dabbled here but haven’t anchored. I’ve never actually been to one of the brewpubs, but I have bougth a few six packs at Hy-Vee. Again, nothing stuck. But I read a little bit about their “Bourbon County Stout” and I have to say I’m intrigued (11% ABV, good night!). The Bourbon County rates an “A” at Beeradvocate and that’s with 441 reviews. That’s impressive. This from Gonzogambler, “Mouthfeel is rich and silky. Drinkability is excellent, but its definitely a sipper; its got more flavor than fits between my jaws.”

Rock Bottom — Now, I have been to this place, last year, night before the Northern Illinois game. The beer was unremarkable, but the food was good. This is a national chain, so I imagine it’s like if TGI Fridays made its own beer. I’ve only seen it in Illinois. When I go on vacation, it’s to a mountain or a lake, so I don’t get out much. From the looks of it, each restaurant is allowed to brew whatever it wants. An endless list of titles on Beeradvocate. The Berzerk Malt Liquor caught my eye. FeloniousMonk writes, “Why not serve in a brown paper bag, just go all the way, eh?”

OK, since Iowa is playing Northwestern this week, let’s go with something that might scare a cat.

Red Dog

Yeah, the Miller swill that gets a big, fat “D” at Beeradvocate.

Says Contagion: “I remember when this beer first came out. I was in college and you could buy it cheap. This is not a beer I would go out of my way to buy, but it’s not undrinkable. There are a ton of other beers that I would pick up before buying Red Dog. Basically the only way I’d drink this is if it is free or if it was really cheap and I was hard up for money.”

And thechamp sums it up nicely, “This beer would be awesome if you were high on crack.”

Why this? This one’s for those poor college kids who party econo on homecoming. Bonus tip for you, kids. Road Trip!!! If you know someone from Dubuque and if their parents have a Van’s Liquor shopper card, ya’ll can pile into the guy with the car’s car and head up to East Dubuque. The rules have changed a bit there (I think the 4 a.m. bar time and strip clubs have been expunged), so I think you’ll make it back for homecoming on Saturday.

Hey, $11.99 a case, kids. Who’s got your back???? (I’m gagging at the thought of drinking this, but it’s tailgating and sometimes ya just gotta make due.)

This is an actual hat you can buy for $35.

This is an actual hat you can buy for $35.



  1. Goose Island is a good place … right in Wrigleyville. Iowa tailgater night prior to Northwestern game has been held there. Not too far from the Cubby Bear if I remember correctly. Has a stage for bands, nice outdoor patio with quite a bit of room. Good beers. But I have to admit, being away from home down in here in Florida nothing sounds better to me right now than getting my hands on an Old Style! How about the No. 1 USC Trojans going down tonight at Oregon State for the second consecutive visit.

  2. East Dubuque — Mint & Honey … George’s Food & Brew … Club 26 … The Circle … that metal bar next to Goin East. Those were the days

  3. Every trip to Wrigley must be preceded by a lunch at Goose Island. It’s only about a block from the stadium. The beer is way beyond the bottled stuff you can buy at Hy Vee. And, they have a 1-pound bratwurst that is out of this world. In fact, it’s a rare combination in that the beer and food are both very good.

  4. Red Dog? Nah, try that Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island. Yes, it really is worth every penney of its expensive price. Goose was out at the forefront of the trend toward aging beers in bourbon barrels, and they’re pretty good at it (as an aside, bless the bourbon industry for not reusing their barrels, thus providing a steady supply). You should try to visit Goose Island’s brew pub. They are losing their lease on their original location (I’m actually not sure if Goose is still there or not), but the Wrigleyville location remains. They usually have some beers that are not available in bottles and the food is good.
    Good take on Rock Bottom. I used to call them the “McDonald’s of brewpubs” but a friend pointed out that, “if McDonald’s burgers were as good as Rock Bottom’s beers, I might actually eat at McDonald’s.” The point is: yes, Rock Bottom is a chain, but over the years I’ve always known them to make pretty good beer (and, yes, each location’ brewmaster does have a degree of local control). TGI McFunster’s, they’re not. Check out the West Des Moines location next time you’re in the DM area.
    Oh, and since you’re giving a shout out to Illinois brews, don’t forget our neighbors across the river at Bent River (Moline) and Blue Cat (Rock Island). Come to think of it, one of Blue Cat’s flagship beers is Big Bad Dog–now THERE’s something to scare a Wildkitty!

  5. J. Wagner,
    A firend of mine has a “brewpub rule:” it seems as if brewpubs either have good beer, or good food, but seldom both.
    I agree that Goose Island is one of those exceptional pubs that does both very well.

  6. Marc-
    There is a Rock Bottom in West Des Moines on University Ave between 50th and 42nd. Never had the Red Dog before, and Goose Island only a couple times. I wasn’t really all that impressed. Too bad the hawks don’t face a Colorado team this year….beer o’clock would be full of outstanding choices. If you are going to go Red Dog you might as well go all out and get the Hamms, PBR, or Milwaukee’s Best Lite even though none are produced in the Chicago area, although PBR is the official unofficial beer of the Cubs.

  7. Umm….the big thing about Red Dog when it first came out (I was in college–happy times) was that if you flipped the bottle cap upside down the bulldog’s chin looked like Batman uh, doing something….naughty.
    Try it.

  8. Correction, it’s a 1/2-lb bratwurst. But still very tastey.

  9. Jules. I’m buying one bottle to see what you’re talking about.

    Next time I’m in the Chicago area, Goose Island it is. And Tim, I’m all over the Bourbon County. Is that one of those $18 a six deals? Either way, I’ll give it a shot. Always willing to spend a little for good beer.

    TC — I was in Durango, Colo., two summers ago for five days. Three of those five were spent at Steam Works, a brew pub. AMAZING. The food and the beer were outstanding.

    Let’s see, East Dubuque . . . Land of Mint and Honey, check. George’s, check (had a 3 a.m. chilidog with one Dog House). Club 26, check. The Circle, check. That heavy metal place, check. I have more checks from ED. I’m going to miss that place.

    I’ll throw out a bad beer every once in a while. Last season, I threw Old Style Light out there. Now, I occasionally buy it. It’s got a little kick for a watery light beer. I have some Miller Lite in the fridge now. It’s in the bottom, in the crispers, in case of emergency.

    For those of you in Cedar Rapids, it sounds like Benz is re-opening next Friday. It’s payday and just terrific timing.

  10. Marc,

    Actually, Bourbon County is in 4-packs–$18 might be on the high end, but I’d say you won’t find it much under 16 bucks. Good thing it’s best for sipping–at least it will last you a while. Goose Island’s “select series” or whatever they call it is definitely a few notches above the normal Goose Honker’s, Hexnut, 312, etc.

    My last time through Durango I hit Carver Brewing–pretty good, although I can’t remember anything distinctive.

  11. The “Old Rasputin” comes in four packs and it, at Van’s Liquor, is about $7.50 a four.

    I remember a Cooper’s at Benz that was around $18 a six. I’m thinking that was a sipper too. I never bought one, but I’m sure I will.

  12. Hey, here’s something cool you may find interesting:

    And I recommend some German beer from Millstream Brewering Co. in the Amanas.

  13. Steve, cool site. Great idea.

    And Millstream is a bit of a blindspot for me. I need to check it out. It’s like 10 minutes from my house.

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