Monday, August 27, 2012

A Worthy 'Local Option'...

BreweryLocal Option
Locale:  Sheffield Neighbors, IL (Chicago)
Circa:  1986
ABV:  All over the board

*** Beer nerds welcome.  According to their Rolling Rock etching on their centerpiece mirror, this establishment was started in 1986, but in no way the same caliber watering hole as it is today.  They were the first bar in the Midwest region to sell Rolling Rock, and were a favorite of the local DePaul University crowd.  Robert DeNiro supposedly made Rolling Rock famous in the “Deer Hunter” and then this beer exploded throughout the country.  That may be a tale I was told, but I like it.  That was then, this is now.  Now it’s a “CROOK County Original.”

Times have changed and so has the quality of tap handles that so majestically span the bar top.  The ambiance and mood that is set for your artisan adventure is a great one.   There’s a definite vibe about the place that intrigues.   Maybe it’s Louisiana voodoo but it’s an atmosphere that is disconnected from the rest of the surrounding area, and I mean that in a good way.  Their taps act as their voodoo amulet protecting beer nerds from macro brew evil and all it stands for… bringing us luck and fortune in the form of flavorful balanced artisans.

These handles pour craft brews of the year-round varieties, seasonal varieties, and rare varieties, described and updated accordingly on the all-important Chalkboard.  If you are fortunate enough the lineup may also contain a precious jewel or a few of their very own Local Option Bierwerker series, developed by what they declare are non-gypsies.  “They don’t read palms, they put beers in them.”  B&B reviewed and researched a little further into the world of their Bierwerkers here.  The Kentucky Common, the Morning Wood (great name) were available during our visit.  And they just tapped the Schmetterling Gose that day which appears to be sour ale we’ll have to give a try another time.

I’m a sucker for all that is New Orleans and everything that town stands for as you will learn more and more, and their menu contains Creole flavors galore.  I have had the Muffuletta in the past, and they advertise it to be as good as Central Grocery which is near impossible.  But they came pretty close.  It’s a wonderful menu overall.

The bar contained a good crowd for a lazy Friday afternoon, and the patrons that arrive are serious and have a mission.  As you make your way through the door, passing the 3 Floyds neon sign, there is sense of beer fanatic camaraderie in the air.  You notice a fellow consumer with a note pad jotting down a discussion with the bartender.  You think to yourself, “Ha, what a nerd.”  Then you realize you are taking notes on your phone.  “Fellow reviewer?”  It’s quite possible.  Another guy pulls up a stool a buffer seat* away, and pulls out his list of beers and you think to yourself, “Ha, what a nerd.”  Then you realize you have your Local Option beer bucket list folded in your pocket that you printed online hours earlier.  “Fellow guy on a mission?”  It’s quite possible.  You can’t make this stuff up.  These are serious drinkers.

A Snifter of a Review:
1.   Firestone Walker Pale 31 (4.8% ABV) – it’s an ode to California, the 31st state to be added to the union. It’s pale indeed.  Very refreshing but there is no punch to it.  Lacks fullness compared to other pale ales, would consider this a less hopped up version, or mild ale.  The R&D team at FW must use all their resources perfecting and building the perfect IPA and Double IPA because they are great.  It goes down really fast, and the fact that everything about this beer is subtle, it flies by the taste buds.   It’s ok FW, I still love you.  As long as you keep brewing Jack and his buddy Double Jack, it’s all good.
2.   Local Option Bierwerker Morning Wood (7% ABV) – The aroma of coffee is nice.  Probably a great “hair of the dog” brew.  In speaking with the staff, we learned this is a variation on base amber ale with coffee, and oak barrel maturation.  Definite sweetness to balance the bitter which is unique to this type of beer in that other similar hybrids do bitter and another bitter such as coffee and then some sort of roast like a nutty malt.  More of a fall beer for sure, but it went down really well.  Smooth, goes down nice, not much of an aftermath.  Robust, yet sweet.
3.   Boulevard Double Wide IPA (8.5% ABV) – Ahhh, that’s better.  After the mild ale, and the hybrid, I was beginning to twitch going through hop withdrawals.  Nice brew with a great balance.  Great hops, nice bite but in no way was it overwhelming.    I would definitely consider buying a bomber if I come across it out and about.
4.   Great Divide Oak Aged Rumble IPA (7.1% ABV) – Hoppy yet creamy, by far the best beer of the Local Option trip.  Almost a thick IPA, very unique and very tasty.  Cream Ale meets IPA.  Smooth, unbelievable for the ABV.  Great ROI.  Great balance of bitterness, caramel, sweetness, and citrus undertones.  Very impressive artisan brew.  Another great Colorado brewery. 

The Local Option is indeed a great local option.  There is an alliance of all factors beer nerds look for in a place and it collaborates beautifully.  This place has a special impact; there is self-realization and inner reflection involved.  You realize the vast array of beers out there in the world you have yet to conquer, you start to question the rationality of becoming a voodooist, but more importantly you realize as you are surrounded by nerds while having an energetic discussion about brews with staff and patrons is that:  “Wow, I AM a nerd too! And it’s pretty cool.”


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