Every once in a while something I witness will get stuck in my head and I just need to learn everything about it. This happened to me recently and it has become an obsession of mine. It is quite simply the most important thing to happen to craft beer in quite a while. It may seem the world of craft beer has dominated by cell phone check-ins, mobile applications that regurgitate aggregate scores from strangers and passive aggressive beer nerds hunting for the ever elusive… whatever. There are already too many phantoms of negativity and frustration in this beer culture and it seems the reasons to say “F@%$ YEAH” are becoming fewer and far between. Between the “Ishmaels” hunting for “whales” and the elitists whining about big bad AB-Inbev how many people actually enjoy the adventure of finding a truly wonderful beer anymore?
I didn’t start drinking craft beer for any other reason than I like it. I don’t care where it’s from or how many (or few) barrels were produced. I refuse to wait in line to drink or purchase beer. If you want to do any of those things than be my guest because after a long day of waiting in line and seeing how many likes you can get on whatever platform you decide to use I will have a seat, a beer and whiskey right in front of me at the bar.
I prefer to sit at the bar. Most of the time, if I can’t sit at the bar I will simply leave. I won’t complain or roll my eyes or post some passive aggressive malarkey review online, I’ll just quietly leave and try to come back some other time. I can’t explain it, I’ve always been that way and I’m too set in my ways to change.
My best friend and I walked in to a newly opened brewpub in East Lakeview not too long ago and, as luck would have it, got seats right at the bar. We took our obligatory few moments to check out the joint, point out and discuss things of interest within the confines and we also managed to grab a few beers! We both laughed and talked of how different our lives have become recently and warmly embraced the monotony of adult life as our youth continues to bubble and dissipate like the head dwindling down on our beers. We ate a few little things and really enjoyed the environment. The staff was cheerful, the service was prompt and accurate and if the beer had gotten any fresher we would’ve had to slap it.
Then, it happened. There was the sound of a mechanical switch being flipped followed by a soft fast whirring. I know that sound. I am quite familiar with what mechanical devices of this nature sound like! Why is that sound happening in here?!? And then I spot this wonderful little device spinning a beer can on a rotating pedestal from across the bar
Excuse me, miss? What is that thing?”
“Oh, that’s our Crowler machine.”
“No kidding…” I said with a half smile as I watched in wonderment.DryHop Brewers_32oz Can Seaming
That moment was important to me. This device captured my imagination. Needless to say I went home with one.
I’m not here to talk about beer. I’m not going to give you tasting notes, some bs grade or even whether or not I like the beers. Nope. This is about imagination being coupled with service and the dedication to keeping the beer drinkers happy. Well, as happy as we can be. Bitch, bitch bitch… am I right?
Seriously though, I went to the three places peppered throughout the greater Chicago area that I could find that carries this wonderful technology, had a few beers and decided on which one I was going to bring home to enjoy over the weekend. These beers have all been gathered within the last two days and will be enjoyed soon by me and perhaps a few friends. I also decided to go with a “summery” beer theme for the three Crowlers I picked up because I am aching for some warm weather !
I first revisited my friends at DryHop.This place is wonderful. The service has always been impeccable and if you have to wait for a seat they just take your number and you can go record shopping across the street. Pretty awesomely service forward in a neighborhood notoriously know for high fiving suburban Cubs fan chuckleheads, douchebags and shitty sports bars with spotty service. I love going to this place and seeing what kind of creative beers they have going on. Oh yeah, get a burger while you are there. I decided on taking the “Violet Beauregard” home with me. It is a saison brewed with lavender and blueberries and at 6% it has a stronger backbone than some other saisons floating around. Truly a different beer looking to make the other saisons running around the yard nervous.
Next up, Breakroom Brewery. This new place located at 2925 W. Montrose offers a working class neighborhood what they deserve, good beer. It also just happens to be right down the street from my office. I was basically going to like this brewpub based on proxy no matter what and it just so happens that it is beautifully crafted brewpub with equally thoughtfully made beer. I decided on the Makellos Berliner Weiss and can’t wait to crack it open on my rooftop deck.
Lastly is Imperial Oak Brewing.
This fledgeling brewery is nestled into a nice little pocket of wooded terrain in Willow Springs. Yes, the suburbs. Most of my family resides in the southwest suburbs still so I really don’t need a reason to venture out there. For those of us who might need a bit more incentive there is Imperial Oak. Simple, straighforward brewpub with some seriously adventuresome brewers. After trying a scotch ale brewed with coco nibs, chipoltle peppers, cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans (8.5%) I knew I was in love. Sadly, this wasn’t available “to go” so I tried some lighter styles to stay with my “summery” beer theme. I ended up grabbing a Dom Beeringnon Berliner Weiss and was impressed that they had two more expressions of this beer available: one brewed with cherries and one brewed with mango. That alone is reason to go back.
What is a Crowler? It’s a growler but in can form. Beyond it’s clever namesake it really is a wonderful way to bring a fresh beer home from the ole brewpub. It’s a fully recycleable 32 oz single use can. It’s cheaper than glass, WAY easier and safer to transport and keeps beer fresher for longer. I love this concept pioneered by Oskar Blues Brewing and you should too. The can is first filled with beer, a top is placed on it and then it is sealed. Be sure to ask whether or not the can is puerged with CO2 upon filling as this will affect the length of freshness with the beer. Breakroom will be purging theirs starting next week while DryHop and Imperial Oak already employ this life lengthening step. For more information regarding the Crowler and its stories feel free to explore these links.
Also, feel free to share any other Crowler locations in the comments below. It’s not the destination it’s the journey and after a journey home it’s nice to know my beer will still be fresh. Cheers!
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