Beer Road Trip: Chicagoland, IL

Every beer geek knows the routine: plan a trip out of state, and one of the first thoughts that crosses the mind is “what beer can I get to bring back?”  My most recent trip was particularly exciting.  I journeyed with my wife, who runs the popular art yarn and fiber shop Jazzturtle Creations, to Schaumburg, IL for the Stitches Midwest Convention.  There was precious little time for beer runs, but I still managed to put together a great haul and have fun doing so.

On our free day before the work began, we spent some time in Chicago and I stopped by West Lakeview Liquors (2156 W Addison, Chicago), one of the highest-rated beer stores in the nation.  This small but jam-packed shop had many of the breweries that I was seeking – Three Floyds, Half Acre, Firestone Walker, Flossmoor Station, and Two Brothers.  The guy working there was attentive and helpful.  I wasn’t interested in buying any Mikkeller, since we get in in North Carolina, but if you’re looking for Mikkeller you will be in heaven at West Lakeview.  Tons of Belgian beers and imports too.  All in all, a great experience.

Upon arriving at the Schaumburg Convention Center, I spied a funky-looking but intriguing liquor store just a few blocks away.  Little did I know that this unremarkable place, Sal’s Beverage World, would wind up being the stop(s) of the trip.  On the first stop, I was overjoyed to find a six-pack of Three Floyds Alpha King.  The second time I stopped, it was with the intention of grabbing a 2009 Goose Island Sofie, but I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw that the store had restocked Three Floyds Gumballhead over the weekend.  And that is why Sal’s of Rolling Meadows, IL, will always be a favorite stop of mine.  They also had New Holland Cabin Fever Brown Ale, somewhat hard to find in North Carolina but not impossible.

The last place I stopped was the most uneventful.  I realize that chain liquor stores vary widely depending on the manager and location, but I was outrageously disappointed in the selection at Binny’s of Des Plaines.  With so much room, you’d think their stock would be more interesting.  The decision wasn’t tough.  I went ahead and grabbed the only two things they had that the other stores didn’t, as far as my interests – Boulevard Tank 7 Saison and Clown Shoes Brown Angel Double Brown Ale.  I went ahead and grabbed a sixer of Big Sky Moose Drool too, since I had been eyeing it all weekend.

Look for many of these beers to be featured in our Beer Review column, as time allows!

The total haul:

6 Three Floyds Gumballhead Pale Wheat
6 Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale
6 Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale
4 Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
2 Three Floyds Moloko Milk Stout
2 Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA
2 Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf IIPA
1 Boulevard Tank 7 Saison
1 Two Brothers Hop Juice Double IPA
1 Two Brothers Reprieve Schwarzbier
1 Flossmoor Station Station Master Wheat Ale
1 Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA
1 Firestone Walker Walker’s Reserve Porter
1 Clown Shoes Brown Angel Double Brown Ale
1 Goose Island Sofie Belgain Style Farmhouse Ale (2009)
1 Goose Island Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale (2011)

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