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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Suburban Craft Beer Oasis

I live in a prototypical suburban wasteland - lots of cement, a huge Wal-Mart, small trees that never seem to grow and lots of well manicured lawns that nobody seems to ever use.  Oh, and lots of flags on Memorial Day.  And babies everywhere.

I’m not complaining at all.  Technically everything I need is within a few miles.  Big Choice Brewery down the road, shopping, gas, restaurants and every chain known to man.  If I didn’t make it clear in my last blog, I am not a huge fan of chains – especially chain restaurants.  Generally they just suck.  Unhappy staff.  Bad craft beer selection.  Poor food.  Why deal with it?  Sherlock’s Pub Co. (Baker St Bar and Grill, Boulder) does a really good job, and is an exception to the rule.  There are some smaller chains that do pretty well, but there is one chain that has always stood out in my mind as doing a fantastic job, no matter what the location is – Old Chicago.

And yes, there happens to be one walking distance from my house in my lovely corner of Suburbia.

The first time I went to an Old Chicago was my first visit to Boulder, Colorado.  It’s the original location, on Pearl St, which is an extremely well done walking mall.  I’ve been told the same designers attempted to replicate the walking mall where I used to live in Eugene, Oregon, but it failed miserably.  Somebody forgot to mention IT RAINS 300 DAYS A YEAR in Eugene.  Dummies.  Not exactly optimal walking mall conditions, unless you like being a human sponge.

Bad Walking Mall in Eugene

Good Walking Mall in Boulder

The Old Chicago location in Broomfield is one of my favorites (  There is nothing particularly special about it – the d├ęcor is basically the same, the food is as good as anywhere else and they always have great craft beer on tap and in bottles - at least 110 of them and sometimes more.  What I like about it are two things – first, it’s iconic in its level of consistency, and second, the bartender there is awesome.

Perry Fletcher is the guy’s name, and it seems like he’s there every time we are, but he was nice the first time we went in, and is just as nice a year later - and damnit, he knows his beer.  He’s a Nebraska fan, but that’s ok.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

This is one of the best Imperial IPA’s I’ve ever tasted – might as well get that out of the way now so you know I am biased. It poured with a solid head, and ton of lacing down the glass.  Deep, deep amber to copper in color.  There is a slight hoppiness in terms of smell, but also a very prominent sweetness that comes forward.

At 9%, it has barely any alcohol flavor to it at all.  Amazingly smooth.  Definitely a resinous, grapefruit taste with some floral overtones from the hops, but just as forward is the sweetness and roast malt qualities.   Very well balanced overall.

If you haven’t has this beer yet, make it a point to do so.  Dogfish Head, to put it simply, makes great craft beer.



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