Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Northwoods Get-Away Recap June 17, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:44 pm
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This past weekend Matt and I packed up my Escape, for our second get-away to the northwoods of Wisconsin. Our agenda was quite simple: a little work and have a lot of fun.

Work consisted of mowing the lawn, finish staining a lower portion of a new kitchen cabinet and cleaning. The fun part included exploring a new brew pub, going to our favorite breakfast place and visiting a well known Wisconsin brewery.

The new place we’re happy to add to our favorites list is Aqualand Ale House in Boulder Junction. The brew pub boasts their own four specialty beers as well as a nice mix of craft beer from the Midwest. Matt and I both ordered flights and a few appetizers. Their homebrews and food were delicious. My favorite brew was a cream ale, which we ended up getting a grumbler of to take home. We had a great time talking to the bartenders and are already planning to visit them again in a few weeks.

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Flight sampler at Aqualand

If we’re only up for a few days or a week, we always make sure to enjoy a breakfast at Cafe Holiday located in Hazlehurst. My parents discovered this gem a few years ago and it has become a family staple. Matt always orders a full biscuits and gravy breakfast meal served with two eggs. And for me, it’s the stuffed cranberry-apple french toast with a side of hashbrowns extra crispy. My mouth is already watering from writing about it.

Our last favorite stop took place on the drive home. Often we’ll stop in on the way up or down in the little Swiss town of New Glarus, Wisconsin, home to New Glarus Brewery. Once we arrived at the brewery, Matt literally jumped out and headed straight for the beer depot to see if any of the recent brown sours were still available. Luck was on his side because they were! With our haul secured we ventured out to enjoy a Belgian Red straight from the tap on the patio with Porter. Best rest stop ever.

Porter hanging out on the patio at New Glarus Brewery

Porter hanging out on the patio at New Glarus Brewery

We’ll be back up north in another few weeks for much of the same. A little work and a lot of fun. I think that’s going to be my new motto for the summer.

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Beer Tasting Recap April 29, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:06 pm
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Throughout the year, our beer friends will get together about 3-5 times to try a wide variety of beers. This past Saturday we had the privilege to host a tasting. Even with the weather not cooperating, we were still able to grill, drink a wide variety of beer and enjoy excellent company.

Here’s how our tastings work. Usually a few days before we make a note of who is bringing what to eliminate any duplicates. On the day of, everyone breaks out their bottles and we create a line-up. Starting with the lighter beers and ending either with the “whales” or pallet crushers. At this past tasting here was our line-up:

  1. Devoir Saison from Penrose
  2. A cider called Mitten from Virtue
  3. Maria’s Tears from Marz Community
  4. La Beire Fantaisie from Side Project
  5. Cuve Diable from 4 Hands
  6. Black Angel Cherry Sour from Wicked Weed
  7. Goose Island Grimm Vicar
  8. 2014 Bourbon County Barleywine
  9. Madagascar from 4 Hands
  10. Downfall from 4  Hands
  11. Black Ops from Brooklyn Brewery
  12. Fyodor’s Classic from Stone
  13. 2014 Bourbon County Stout Proprietor’s from Goose Island
  14. Elevated IPA from La Cumbre
  15. Imperial Red from Marble
  16. Serenity from Wicked Weed
  17. Big Hugs Imperial Coffee Stout from Half Acre
  18. Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza from Rio Grande

BeerTasting

There’s nothing better than trying samples of beer with your friends. It’s a great opportunity to sample a few rarer beers and to try out different styles. For this tasting we had a few sours but mostly stouts and barleywines. I will say, I did try everything, even if it was just a sip. This allowed me to confirm that I do not like sours but I do like stouts and a few barleywines. And since we do such small pours, sometimes you get lucky and can get a second round of your favorite.

From this tasting my top three favorites were the Bourbon County Stout Proprietors from Gooseland followed by the Mitten cider from Virtue and then Downfall by 4 Hands. They are all delicious. Now I just have to wait for the next tasting!

 

Break Time at the Noon Whistle April 15, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:17 pm
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After taking last week off, I’m back! This past weekend Matt and I checked out a new brewery called Noon Whistle in Lombard. The establishment focuses more on session brews, which means there is not a lot of alcohol in the beer so you could theoretically drink more :). From the listing of nine beers on tap when we visited, the average ABV was around 5%. However, they did have one barleywine that weighed in at 10%.

When you first walk in, you can see the brewery operation as there are no walls dividing that area from the seating area. The place is a decent size with a few large tables and four person barrel tables as well as a bar. There is also a large garage door that can be opened to let in the nicer weather we are finally starting to experience. They don’t serve any food but on the weekends they do have a rotation of food trucks that stop by.

After reviewing the menu, we both decided on a tasting. The tasting included four four-ounce pours. I went with the lighter beer styles, including a saison, German Weiss, wit and Kolsch. Matt went for the IPA/darker ones, including a dubbel session, an IPA, the barleywine and pale ale. All of the beers were very easy to drink – no surprise since they were sessions.

Our samples from Noon Whistle

Our samples from Noon Whistle

We went on a Saturday evening around 8 p.m. and it filled up quickly. The place can be a little loud with a lot of people. Sometimes I felt like Matt and I were yelling during our conversation so we could hear each other. I think they next time we go back, we’ll try to go a little early and maybe bring a board game to pass the time as we drink our many beers.

 

Beer and Ice Cream the Best Combo Date Night March 25, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:46 pm
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Saturday night Matt and our friends Lei and Chris headed to Lagunitas TapRoom. We’ve been wanting to check out the brewery since it opened in January. The taproom is located just South of Ogden and North of Cermak, practically next door to the Cook County Courthouse.

With traffic heavy on 290, we simply jumped on Ogden and we were there in no time. We grabbed an excellent parking spot and headed inside. The entire building is gigantic, especially after visiting Penrose; everything seemed to be on steroids. We walked in and waited in line before we could head up stairs to be seated for food. While waiting, we were able to hit up the downstairs bar and grabbed a few beers. We only waited about 10 minutes before we were told to head on up.

Lagunitas Taproom

The restaurant is open seating. It was like a cross between Urban Chestnut’s Grove Brewery and Harpoon’s Boston Brewery. Tons of picnic tables lined an open space with a bar at one end and a stage at the other. When we walked in we were greated by a live band and quickly grabbed four open seats. Our meal started off with brisket topped nachos and a large pretzel with horseradish mustard. For the main course Lei and I both ordered the sandwich special, which was pulled pork with a side of coleslaw and chips. Chris got a burger and Matt got a sandwich with bacon, ham, cheese and pickles. Everything was delicious, including the beer!

My favorite part of the location is the restaurant is where it’s situated on the third floor. There is an observation deck, where you can sit and enjoy your food and overlook a lot of beer and the entire beer making process. The third floor also features walkways where you can overlook the process too. The night we went, we were treated to watching some of the crew fill up quarter kegs.

Lagunitas Taproom

Between the beer, food, live music and good company, I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. But that’s not quite where the night ended.

Since we were already downtown, I figured we’d grab some dessert. And what better place than to check out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s new store in Wicker Park?!?! Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea because we couldn’t find parking anywhere. So, I gave my order to Matt and parked with my flashers on. It was totally worth it. My order was a goat-cheese cherry that was fantastic. What better way to end a night than with delicious ice cream?

 

Penrose Brewery Review March 11, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:27 pm
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Penrose breweryThis year, I got Matt a Groupon to Penrose Brewery for his Valentine’s Day gift. Penrose had been on our list of breweries to try out so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to actually go. The $15 Groupon included a tour, 2 free samples, a glass and an empty growler. To make the deal even sweeter, I was able to apply a 20% coupon for Valentine’s Day!

When he opened his gift, he was very excited and wanted to go that day. Unfortunately, there were no tour openings. So we reviewed our schedules and then selected an upcoming tour date and time on Penrose’s website. Then we just had to wait.

Finally the day came for our afternoon adventure to Penrose. Our tour was scheduled for 2 p.m. so we decided to get there ten minutes ahead of time. Mostly so I could check out merchandise and Matt could decide what beer he’d like to drink while on the tour. The layout of the tap room includes a bar and lots of large tables perfect for a large group or for meeting new people. Penrose even supplies board games for enjoyment. Our timing was perfect and we each got great sample beers for the tour.

We’ve been on a few brewery tours and this was probably one of our favorites. We had a charismatic tour leader and a very inquisitive group. We started in the back of the facility with the grain and hops to review the process of how Penrose brews their beer. Then we moved on to the fermentor area and then to the bottling area. We ended up learning a lot about the company and future growth plans while enjoying our tasty beers.

After the tour we grabbed a table with another couple who was on the tour. We had a great time talking about everything from local restaurants, favorite spots for vacations, to the process of buying a home. All while drinking a few more beers.

I’m glad we finally made it to Penrose Brewery and definitely recommend getting the Groupon if it’s still available. If not you should still go!

Sample time!

Sample time!

 

Favorite Winter Beers January 14, 2015

Winter is a great time for excellent beer in the Midwest. Since November Matt and I have been eagerly sampling our favorite holiday seasonals as well as a few standard porters and stouts. Thus fCabin Fever beer, New Glarusar in 2014-2015 here are my favorite 10 winter beers.

If you’re curious about Matt, here are his top 10 winter beers in no particular order:

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comment section what other beers we should try before winter is over!

 

Date Night: The Bavarian Lodge November 19, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:53 pm
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Remember that passport I made Matt for our first anniversary? We finally started putting it to use this past weekend! After doing lots of inside and outside work with our house we decided to try a new place for the both of us. Turning to the restaurant portion of the passport, we chose the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.

We arrived at 6 p.m., prime dinner time. And we learned our lesson, that will not happen again. There was an hour wait. We both really wanted German food so we got a number and headed towards the bar. Our friends had mentioned before that the beer list is quite impressive, and after seeing the draft and bottle list, boy were they right. The Bavarian Lodge definitely gives Palmer’s Place in LaGrange a good run for a spectacular beer selection.

Beers in hand, the time passed by and 45 minutes later a table opened up for us. Our waitress was simply delightful. She walked us through the specials, her favorites and recommended we get our orders in quickly since the kitchen was a little behind. Following her suggestion we ordered an appetizer of potato pancakes, liver dumpling soup and then our entrees. Even though the place was packed, our meal was perfectly timed and we didn’t feel rushed.

For dinner, Matt went with the German sausage platter, featuring three different types of sausage and a slice of meatloaf. For my choice, I decided on the pick two option with a schnitzel and thuringer sausage. The portions were very hardy. I saved my whole sausage and even Matt had leftovers. But I wasn’t too full for dessert. We split an almond poppyseed strudel that was outstanding! The dessert arrived nice and warm and was the perfect end to a perfect night.

Matt and I both decided we want to go back. Good thing my parents wedding anniversary is coming up next month. Now, we know just the spot we’ll take them to celebrate!

 

 
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