Monday, October 21, 2013

Rainy Day Brewpub Tour

The first weekend of October is the true nail-in-the-coffin for the Chain O' Lakes boating season. The weather turns more towards fall/winter and Blarney Island holds its Drink us Dry Weekend. The Saturday of this weekend showed rain in the forecast, so we didn't find the need to go to the island. Instead of hopping in the boat we traveled south to hop two local breweries we have never visited.

Our first stop was The Lucky Monk in South Barrington. We first learned about The Lucky Monk when they were featured for pub grub on one of our favorite local shows, Chicago's Best. The building is in a stand alone location just outside of a mall. The inside was a bit bland, decorations were mostly wood barrels. We sat at the bar and ordered our first beers - Solitude Oatmeal Stout. It was good, but not an OMG. Since pub grub was supposed to be the highlight of The Monk we ordered a Trappist Trio: Fried Pickles, Truffle Fries, and Fried Cheese Curds. We hardly order anything like this for dietary reasons which partially explains why it was so good. Everything was seasoned and prepared properly and the three items went well together.

We decided to split a burger instead of ordering a sandwich each. They had our new obsession on the menu: the peanut butter / bacon burger. Their version included bananas. We got the bananas on the side and upgraded to the side salad so fries wouldn't tempt us any further.... Dave liked the banana on the burger but Holly didn't. The peanut butter was closer to Skippy consistency vs. the homemade style at The Bad Apple (link to our post about it). The meat The Monk used was top notch and cooked to a perfect medium. If you mixed The Bad Apple's toppings and bun with The Lucky Monk's burger meat you'd have the perfect Elvis tribute.

Dave sampled the Fallen Angel Amber and Holly tried the Pumpkin seasonal by Lakefront Brewery out of Milwaukee. The Amber was good and Holly liked Lakefront's product. Overall assessment was The Lucky Monk is a good spot to visit. The beer was good, not great, and the food was excellent. We won't make a special trip again, but would likely visit if we are in the area.

Our next stop on the way back north was The Onion Pub in Lake Barrington. The Onion was kinda tucked back in an industrial area. It had all the charm the monk was lacking with a Bavarian style building - complete with a mural of foxes in a beer hall.

We were here for drinks only and wanted to try the Nut Brown. Of course they were out. We've bought their stout in cans at the grocery store so now we had to move onto some lighter beers. Holly went with the pumpkin seasonal and said its flavor profile was heavier on the spice vs. Lakefront's pumpkin (Lakefront won, but Onion's product was still very good). Dave went with a very cloudy hefeweizen - also very good. He sampled a blonde ale - Kainz Brau. Also tasty.... One thing we noticed about The Onion is that for a straight up restaurant (and not a sports bar) the place had a decent crowd at 3pm - lots of late lunches being ordered. Overall a fun stop on the tour.

The Onion just started some expansion work. This article highlights their focus on sustainability, creating a hop garden out of a junk yard, and their endeavors in worm farming.

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