Brew Dude On Tour rolls on with sort of the first official entry. Last month I felt like I took so much time setting up the new series that I didn’t have time to spend on any one specific brewery.
This week I turn to rectify that and talk about the four breweries of Evanston. I have a bunch of connections to Evanston throughout the years, most notably my Aunt Colleen Prophet lives in Evanston these days, and my wife, Sam, and I reached out to her to see if she wanted to join us for dinner at Smylie Brothers.
I did this tour the second weekend of January so this was actually the first run I completed after I resolved to visit all of the breweries this year. When I wrote about Alulu and Bixi (which I learned is pronounced “Be She” thanks to the guys of Chicago Beer Pass) last month, I did so out of order.
First of all, Evanston is a great town. Some of my favorite restaurants are in Evanston like Buffalo Joe’s hot wings shop and the Cozy Noodle Thai noodle outfit. Evanston’s downtown is super easy to get around and parking on Sundays when we went was free. Sam and I had our daughter, Penny, with us so I was glad that two of the three spots we hit were kid friendly.
Point of fact here, I have already been to Temperance Beer Company twice in the past. I went once with my friend Drew Moody who lived in Evanston at the time. So, I can recommend Temperance as a part of this tour because I have been there previously.
Temperance Beer Company is in an alley of an industry-looking park but with a huge welcoming entrance with an awesome outdoor patio space. When I was there, kids and dogs were running around like you were at a barbecue at your cousin’s house. Temperance beers are pretty good and probably one of the best-kept secrets of Chicago.
They go hard with a ESB as one of their year-round cans Smittytown (I can think of no other brewery that does this). They also have an English IPA as another interesting mix of flagship beers, Gatecrasher. Temperance provides popcorn to all patrons, a beautiful, cozy taproom with lots of styles on tap at all times.
Next stop on the tour is Smylie Brothers where my Aunt Colleen met up with us and had some barbecue. Penny doesn’t get to see her Aunt Colleen too often but she is usually accompanied by Penny’s cousin, Sophia, who loves to play together.
Colleen didn’t bring the family because some were sick at the time, so we caught up over a flight of beer. Sam had a cider, and I had six generous pours of their rock-solid beers. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming on a cold January night. I got one of my favorite brewery photos with Penny in front of Smylie Bros beautiful exterior.
The next stop was Sketchbook Brewing, one I was the most excited to visit because I’ve had some incredible beers from them in cans sold at The Open Bottle in Tinley Park. Sketchbook Brewing found some notoriety as their hazy IPA Insufficient Clearance placed 19th in Draft Magazine’s best IPAs in the country.
They also partnered with Good Beer Hunting on their slick new branding found on all of their 16-ounce cans. Sketchbook’s taproom is an inviting but tight galley-kitchen-like space with a chalkboard listing all of their taps along one wall and high-top tables with colored pencils and colorful coasters sprinkled throughout.
This is the sort of place I would check in on often if I lived in the area. I love these sort of stops that feel like you could slot right in to a happening little spot in a neighborhood. Taprooms like this feel like they are an essential part of the culture of a community, and Sketchbook is an especially comfy feeling spot.
The last place I stopped at was Peckish Pig which rounds off probably the classiest run of taprooms and brewpubs I have ever visited. Up and down, Evanston knows how to make a beautiful, refined, but inviting taproom, and Peckish Pig is probably the height of date-spot of breweries I have visited lately.
I stopped by on a snowy January night, but I could see a mural of hop cones along the far wall of their patio which looks like a outdoor space where I could spend a lot of time. I didn’t get any food here, but they had a fantastic looking menu, beautiful circle bar that divides a dining room that looked intimate and perfectly decorated that felt like a date spot or a place to stop for drinks.
I had the Bandelero Session IPA that I really liked and wanted to sample more if I could have, but the night was getting late to be out of town. Evanston offers a great variety of beers and taproom options for any occasion, but class is definitely on offer. Plenty of comfort to bring the family or leave the kids at home and have a delightful afternoon on the town.
Gatecrasher IPA from Temperance Brewing
Style: IPA — English
Notes: “GABF Gold Medal Winner 2016, GABF Silver Medal Winner 2014” sort of sums it up in their Untappd notes section.
Where to Buy: You can find this one at The Open Bottle in Tinley Park in 12 oz 6 packs for $9.99. Remember you can mix and match anything in the store priced by the single can so you can sample around.
Purple Line from Smylie Brothers Brewing Company
Style: Fruit Beer
Notes: “Award winning Bavarian wheat brewed with hibiscus, blueberry, and blackberry. Tart, fruity, super refreshing’ according to the brewery.
Where to Buy: You can only find this beer at the brewpub in Evanston in flights, full pours, or growler fills.
Insufficient Clearance from Sketchbook Brewing
Style: IPA – New England
Notes: “Juicy flavors of mango, guava, and pineapple smoothie complete with whipped cream texture all packed into an impossibly small space” According to the brewery.
Where to Buy: You can find this one in 16 oz 4 pack cans at Crafted Bottle Shop & Tap Room in Mokena for $10.99.
Bandelero from Peckish Pig
Style: IPA – Session/ India Session Ale
Notes: “Light, bright, orange and citrus flavors, low bitterness and easy to drink” Acording to the brewery.
Where to Buy: You can only find this one at the taproom in 16 oz drafts for $6.