Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding leaves in the cat's pajamas

Fall, this is where it all starts to make sense people. This is Jerry's "I always break even" to George's only having prune juice anbd the Ray Coniff singers when its time to seal the deal. Remember those hops i found? A cut and clear sign of the path ahead of me lo these past few days. Somehow i woke up feeling like a million bucks on Sunday morning and when you feel like a million bucks there's only one place you go...Chicago. Impromptu as it gets i spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon in my favorite city and had dinner with Mr. Porteouverte at the Hopleaf. Jackpot.

This is what's great about beer bars. The list of usual suspects when it comes to Belgian and German beers is usually similarly across the board, but so amazingly so. Knowing that Armand Debelder gets the same love in Chi-town as he does in Philly is really pretty darn cool. So one of the things that sets these places apart is regional availability. And for a guy living on the East Coast the tap list at Hop Leaf left more options than me and my 2 1/2 hour drive could responsibly set about tackling:

Surly - Furious
New Belgium - Eric's Ale
Three Floyds - Alpha King, Gorch Fock
Ommegang - Rouge
Gouden Carolous - Hopsinjoor

These beers are on tap. ON TAP!

Sure we get stuff that mid-westerners drool about and west coasters dream about, but man that's a hot little list and that's not even half of it.

Hopleaf had one PA beer on their list. Prima Pils from Victory. Rightfully so.

They have Dragon's Milk in bottles so Mr. P ordered one up for dessert. I love drinking Dragon's Milk with someone for the first time. Even people who know their barrel aged stuff are still taking back by it.

The food at Hopleaf is definitely worth the trip. Beer food (not bar food) in really well done way. He the steak frite and me the pork stew. The classic sausage sampler app with mustard. We won.

So back to work on Monday in the fine town of Grand Rapids, MI. Lunch has to happen somewhere and i am really glad it happened at Hop Cat. The place is beautiful. Great bars just have that feel. The tap list is amazing in there, a combination of awesome local breweries and regional rarities. They're big New Holland supporters. The owners of this wood covered beer haven were out having a good time at Autumnfest, so i was really glad to see their place in person and try Short's Bellaire Brown which was so eloquently described to me just 48 hours prior. It was delicious.

Lunch here was top notch (i'm eating good these days and my belly is living proof) for me: Mac-n-cheese with Andoullie and roasted red peppers. For my fellow Beer Ambassador: A burger with Applewood smoked bacon, jalepenos, and cheddar. The attention to aesthetic detail in the Hop Cat really had me reeling. The ceiling looks like a floor except for the fact that there's art hanging from it. Homage after homage to the great musicians time has given us. The list goes on. It's an amazing place.

The hops led to the hops you see. It's all very clear. This is fall calling, i am at your front door. And here is the rest of it.


sholland said...

Hey, bring back a growler of that Mac-n-cheese with Andoullie and roasted red peppers, wouldja?

How great were the Rouge and Hopsinjoor?

Glad the killer party did not almost kill you.

JT said...

I need me some Existential or Pilgrim's...

The weather is gettin' right.