Late in May, Chicago hosted a Craft Beer Week, a powerful gathering of those who are responsible for the current renaissance of interest in relatively small batch brews that used to be the norm in this country. Many of those little old breweries faded with the expansion of huge beer and beverage conglomerates, which tended to squeeze out the smaller operations.
Recent changes in laws and a rising public interest in artisanal consumables have fueled a groundswell of passion for beers made by small breweries all across the country.
Poor Phil’s has an absolutely fabulous collection of craft beers, a fact reinforced for me during a first visit there in maybe four years.
I was knocked out by the selection, many on tap and many from small breweries whose names I didn’t recognize (with beer, surprises are almost always welcome).
We heartily enjoyed the “Changin’ Beer Flight,” which our server told us changes whenever they run out of one of the beers. This was a beautiful introduction to four fantastic craft beers. From left to right in the photo:
* Lost Abby Red Barn: this is an exquisitely balanced beer in the Belgian tradition. Slightly hoppy and citrusy, a lovely summer quaff.
* Finch’s Golden Wing: from Chicago itself, this was a sleeper. Medium body and slightly malty, if I had this one all by itself, I’d love it more, but with the other three heavy weights, it was a dark horse.
* Hop Slayer Imperial IPA: I feared this one would be a victim of the current craft brew trend toward radical over-hopping. India Pale Ales are always kind of hoppy (hops were added to preserve the beer on long voyages between India and Britain). I was, however, surprised and pleased with the balance of this beer: astringent, but with the pleasant and not overwhelming green taste of hops.
* New Belgium New Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale: a major eye-opener. If you, like me, enjoy a sour, Belgian-type beer, you will like this. I’m guessing many of Phil’s customers leave a lot of this one unfinished. It was just fine with me, but it was sour, really sour. This brew would be great with Poor Phil’s seafood.
For those of us who love us some suds, Poor Phil’s is a fabulous local resource, with as good a selection as I’ve seen anywhere in the Western suburbs.
Do you have a local place that serves a good range of beers? Tell us, please.