A Hop-ining Place

Two nights ago we went to the Hopleaf bar in Chicago. The Hopleaf is Chicago's best beer bar. It features a whopping 45 beers on tap, which rotate regularly, and a bottled beer list of eighteen pages. Now, you might assume that with such a huge number of beers, people probably only come for the beer, and don't worry about the food. Not so! Our onion rings were exquisite, as were our oysters, which are the house specialty. My father enjoyed his Montreal smoked meat. Moreover, the prices are reasonable, with sandwiches around $12-$13 and appetizers a few bucks less.

But the beer! Oh the beer is wonderful. It's a lot of fun to pick random beers to try. I had a Crooked Tree IPA from the Dark Horse brewery, a Tripel Karmeliet and a Special Block 6 from Brouwerij de Block. The IPA was a nice IPA, quite bitter, and a little sweet. The Karmeliet was probably my favourite of the evening. It had interesting citrus and mint notes and was vaguely reminiscent of the Woodstock Inn Pemi Pale Ale I reviewed last month. As for the #6...well...I remember it was fairly subtle and a little sweet, but not much more than that.

My mother had the De Koninck and the Kwack. Both are Belgian beers (as were the Karmeliet and the 6). At this point I should point out that one really cool thing about the Hopleaf is that they serve beer in its proper serving vessel. The Kwack and the De Koninck were fairly similar with fairly subtle flavours, though the Kwack was a bit sweeter and brighter. They had pleasant citrus notes. I would say I preferred the Kwack. The Kwack also came in a yard glass which made it ever so much cooler.

This brings us to the beers enjoyed by my father. He had North Coast's Old 28 Stout, a Duppel 8 from Maredsous, and a Gulden Draak from Van Steenberge. While I don't recall the latter two too well, since I only had a sip of each, I really enjoyed the stout. It had nice berry-raisin and chocolate notes.

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