By Joshua Riley
Brew Dude on Tour rolls into Joliet this weekend for a collection of breweries I never have had beer from. Joliet really surprised me this time out, and I had to get this column out there so people know there is some high-quality beer hitting the streets in Joliet.
The first stop in this trek was Elder Brewing, located on Cass Street in the most downtown of downtown sort of spots in Joliet. I used to work on the east side of Joliet and would venture downtown for a lunch at Chicken-N-Spice, but that was the only reason I would go down there.
I parked on the one-way street going toward the movable bridge on Cass Street. I walked in and was immediately greeted by a customer’s friendly dog.
I saddled up to a comfy bar right in front of the taps and selected a flight. I had their cream ale — Keep of the Castle at Beer Under Glass last year — and thought it was a great representation of the style. I walked around the little spot a bit and found a small stage set up in the next room that looked like a great place to see a show.
I had some beers and chatted with a friendly bartender before going to the next stop. Elder seemed replete with solid vibes, fresh and free popcorn, one TV with Premier League soccer on with some guys intently watching. If I lived in Joliet, I’d stop in here often to check out the new beers, the live shows and the chill vibes.
The next stop was MyGrain Brewing in the old train station downtown.
You have to watch the construction and the weird one-way streets of downtown Joliet. I parked in a public spot across the street from the brewery and walked up. As soon as you open the big front doors, Mygrain is immediately on your left — don’t miss it.
It’s beautiful inside with stainless steel and wood accents. There was a high school softball team eating in a large gathering space next to the bar. I sat right down and started chatting with a bartender who seemed to be hip to it.
We talked beer styles and craft beer and what not, and I got another flight. They had a milkshake IPA, a NEIPA and a Doppelbock. I don’t know if I have seen those three styles on draft together at any brewery. All three of these were excellent versions of the styles, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The food menu looks fantastic. This is a great date night spot I would think, with wine and cocktails as well. I would bring my wife, Sam, to this spot in a second, with menu items such as grilled salmon and the like — I can’t wait to go back and try the food.
The third spot on this trip is a place I would charitably call “more hip than you’d think,” which is what I talked to one of the brewers about at Will County Brewing. From the website, I didn’t know what to expect, but when I walked in, I felt like I was in the right spot.
They have a case of vinyl records right next to the taps with a sticker emblazoned on the top that says, “Sorry, No Requests,” which I loved. They had pinball machines as you walked in to the left of the bar.
In the taproom were hop-shaped lanterns above the bar, the same stylized three-hop cones painted on the wall to the right of the bar and a clear aesthetic laced throughout their location.
There were a couple of double dry-hopped beers on tap. I had the Rocket Queen, which was excellent, and some solid chat with the guys behind the bar, and I settled on the idea Will County Brewing is “more hip than you’d think.”
The last stop on this particular trip is Mad Hatchet Brewing, which I think is the youngest of the four, but all of these breweries are less than 3 years old. Mad Hatchet Brewing just opened this year.
There is a life-size full suit of armor as soon as you walk in. I sat right down at the bar and surveyed the tap list, which was extensive for being a brand-new brewery. I had a Black IPA called Soulless Universe which was great.
The brewing vessels were just to right of the bar, and a lot of the people walking into enjoy beer that day all had the same sorts of questions about these new outfits. I think this is the perfect way to round out this excellent trip around the craft beer scene of the greater Joliet.
If you still are looking for a pint and a good time in the Joliet area, stop back by Chicago Street Pub downtown. Chicago Street Pub has an awesome draft list, and great live music as well.
Keep of the Castle from Elder Brewing
ABV: 4.99 percent
Style: Cream Ale
Notes: Macro lager
Where to Buy: You only can find this at the taproom in flights or a 10-ounce pour for $5.
Service Dog from MyGrain Brewing
ABV: 7.4 percent
Style: Milk/sweet stout
Notes: Dutch chocolate malts and just a touch of hops, then finished off with Lactose to give it that extra kick of sweetness.
Where to Buy: You can find this at the brewpub in Joliet on draft and in four packs of 16-ounce cans.
Rocket Queen from Will County Brewing
ABV: 6.4 percent
Style: IPA — American
Notes: Hints of pineapple, orange and grapefruit.
Where to Buy: You can find this at the Binny’s in Mokena in four packs of 16-ounce cans for $13.99 or at the taproom in 16-ounce pours.
Soulless Universe from Mad Hatchet Brewing
ABV: 6.2 percent
Style: IPA — New England
Notes: Amazing and juicy — everything you want in a NEIPA. No roasted flavor.
Where to Buy: You can only find this one at the taproom in Shorewood in full pours and 5-ounce samples.