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Reviews on PubCrawler from bill pierce
Other Reviews by this User
December 22, 2014 @ 05:44 PM EDT
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Reviews By
bill pierce

Beer Reviews

Restaurant Reviews


Beer Reviews from bill pierce

Review Page: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ ALL ]
Average Rating
Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Great

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Good Great Great

Establishment: Pepperwood Bistro, Burlington, ON

This is now my local brewpub (close enough to be walking distance) and I am a somewhat frequent customer, so I think I can comment with some credibility. Much of my earlier review still applies. Pepperwood's focus is not on the beer, but the four or five of their own styles they usually have on tap (in addition to imports and domestic beers) are quite decent. Brewer Paul Dickey does a creditable job with their small system. His forte is brown and mild ales and bitters; any of these that happen to be available would not disappoint. I agree to some extent about the food and service; it can sometimes be spotty, but I have never found it abysmal and occasionally it is inspired. The atmosphere is indeed that of a bistro, and I happen to think they fulfill their intentions reasonably well. No, Pepperwood is not a signature destination, but it can be a quite pleasant place to have a beer and some food. I'm happy to have it nearby.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Willoughby Brewing Company, Willoughby, OH

We were there for a late lunch on the day before Thanksgiving. Attractive location in a restored old interurban car barn in historic suburban village. All the beers were above average in quality and stylistically accurate without any flaws, even if none of them was a standout. The food was good and the portions generous. Worth a stop.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall

Establishment: Duneland Brewhouse, Michigan City, IN

Based on information from the head brewer, the Duneland Brewhouse closed as of October 1, 2004.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Great N/A Good Awesome!

Establishment: Dieu du Ciel!, Montreal, QC

Just a quick correction: the address is actually 28 Ave. Laurier *East* (a block east of Boul. St. Laurent). Anyway, Dieu du Ciel is one of the premier brewpubs in Canada and worthy of its name (a mild oath in French). It's not overly large but they offer a great variety of truly excellent beers in a comfortable pub atmosphere (no real food menu). All of them I tried were outstanding, especially the Belgian styles not always found at other pubs. I can't imagine any craft beer lover regretting a visit to Dieu de Ciel, which is not to be missed if you are in Montreal.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Awesome! Great Awesome!

Establishment: Mickey Finn's Brew Pub was Libertyville Brewing, Libertyville, IL

I should get to Mickey Finn's more often. I had heard various things since longtime brewer Ryan Ashley departed for Arizona and his own pub. In truth we found the beer to be slightly less inspired but still considerably above average. The hefeweizen continues to be excellent and a companion weizenbock was perhaps even better and more full-flavored. But what continues to impress me about Mickey Finn's is the comfortable, casual atmosphere that accommodates a wide range of clientèle. The food is an excellent value; for $10 I enjoyed a grilled pork chop that was served to near perfection. You really can't go wrong at Mickey Finn's, which knows how to do it consistently and right.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Emmett's Tavern and Brewery, Dundee, IL

An above average brewpub in a restored turn of the century building in the Fox River community of West Dundee about 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Pleasant atmosphere and good service. Brewer Ryan Clooney brews a nice variety of excellent beers. A strong Belgian triple was our favorite along with the medal-winning pale ale. The food is decent although a little pricey.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A Great Good

Establishment: Dark Horse Brewing Company, Marshall, MI

As the name suggests, Dark Horse is a somewhat out of the way little microbrewery with mildly interesting beers and ambiance. The place is rather basic, with a small attached pub/tasting room, but they go to some lengths to make you feel welcome (say hello to Michelle). The small selection of beers on tap when we were there included a well balanced and quite good IPA as well as their special dark beer, which doesn't really fit a style category but is very flavorful with a variety of dark malts in the recipe. Dark Horse is worth a visit for those who like to go beer hunting.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! N/A Great Awesome!

Establishment: Bell's Brewery / Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo, MI

I have enjoyed Bell's beers for quite a number of years but have avoided a visit to the source, thinking that I might be disappointed. Such is not the case. Bell's, along with Goose Island and Great Lakes Brewing, remains one of the premiere and oldest Midwest microbreweries. They continue to turn out a great variety of beers, with hardly a poor choice among them. The Eccentric Cafe, located at the original brewery (they recently opened a new larger brewery at another site) near downtown Kalamazoo, is a very pleasant place to enjoy these beers. They do not really serve food and they may not always have every variety on tap or in bottles, but it would be hard to think anyone would be disappointed. For craft beer lovers, Bell's is not to be missed.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Great Great

Establishment: Blue Cat Brewpub, Rock Island, IL

Located in the District, the dining and entertainment area near the Mississippi River in downtown Rock Island, the Blue Cat has been successfully serving good beer and food for more than five years now. We recently returned after a long absence and found the quality to have remained consistent and perhaps even improved slightly. The beer selection was not extensive (six when we were there) but all of the ones we tried were very good, especially the Big Bad Dog, an English old ale. The menu is extensive and the food tasty, although my tuna steak happened to have been overcooked. Our server was attentive and we had a pleasant experience. I would give Blue Cat an above average rating, especially for this part of the Midwest.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Great Great Awesome!

Establishment: Augusta's Winking Judge, Hamilton, ON

The Winking Judge had been recommended to me as one of Canada's best beer bars, and nothing about our visit there disputed that description. Tucked into a side street a few blocks south of downtown Hamilton (a somewhat unlikely city for a great beer bar), the Judge is a place you wish for but seldom find. Here is a celebration of beer and pub culture but in an eclectic, low-key way. Currently there are 23 brews on tap, with a truly interesting selection of mostly Canadian but a few American microbrews. You can also find beers in bottles that seldom make their way to Canadian pubs (for example, Stone Brewing's Arrogant Bastard Ale from San Diego). The atmosphere is intimate and welcoming, and the regulars are not shy in talking about beer, sports and the affairs of the day. What was intended to be a relatively brief stop turned into a very fine evening of drinking and conversation. Highly recommended!


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Essen Haus, Madison, WI

A five-minute walk southeast of the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Essen Haus is one of the most authentic German restaurants/bierstubes in the US. It can be crowded and noisy at times, but this is a great venue for group dining or solo drinking at the bar. As you might expect, the food and beer are with a German accent. More than 15 real German beers are available on tap, served in large steins as well as huge "boots." This is as close to München as you are likely to find on this side of the Atlantic. If you tire of the gemütlichkeit, you can always go next door to the Come Back In, which features American microbrews.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! N/A Great Great

Establishment: Map Room, Chicago, IL

Located in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, the Map Room is unpretentious and slightly on the funky side, but it has the city's best selection of beers, especially Belgians and imports you won't find elsewhere. The offerings also include the better Midwest microbreweries such as Bell's and Three Floyds. The Map Room is the bar of choice for Chicago's serious beer fans, and it would be impossible for a beer lover not to enjoy him/herself here.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall

Establishment: Fitzpatrick's Brewing Company, Iowa City, IA

I stopped back at Fitzgerald's on a recent Iowa City visit. The quality of the beer, food and service continues to be very good.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Great Great Awesome!

Establishment: Unibroue, Chambly, QC

One of North America's most interesting microbreweries, with a distinctinve French Canadian accent and point of view, Unibroue seems to pursue its own course. They brew a couple of more ordinary beers, but the emphasis is clearly on Belgian styles, the quality of which rival the much older and highly respected offerings of Belgium. Located in the historic village of Chambly on the edge of Montreal's southeast suburbs, the brewery itself is modern and oddly unhistoric, sitting next to the highway in a small industrial area. While not unwelcoming, they do not go out of their way to offer tours. However, they have a relationship with Fourquet Fourchette, which operates a restaurant near the center of the village less than a kilometer away. The restaurant promotes itself as devoted to beer and the culture of "Neuve-France." Waitresses and waiters in 17th century French colonial costumes serve Unibroue beers and cuisine mainly in the French Canandian country style. In the summer you can sit on a very pleasant terrace overlooking the Richelieu (the body of water connecting Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence). The atmosphere is disctinctly Quebecois, and while not unfriendly in English, it's clear they would prefer to function in French. In all, it's a unique and unusual beer-related experience (at least for Americans or English-speaking Canadians) and to some extent begs the question of Unibroue's beers, several of which are truly a treasure. For a Canadian microbrewery, they are soemwhat widely distributed throughout North America and are very much worth seeking out, whether you ever visit Chambly or not.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great So So Good Good Great

Establishment: Denison's Brewing Company, Toronto, ON

When we visited Denison's they had only three of their own beers on tap (Canadian brewpubs seem to brew a rather narrow selection), but they were *good* beers. They specialize in German styles, and the choices were a dunkel, a hefeweizen (appargently regular offerings) and a seasonal helles. The hefeweizen was authentic and outstanding, with a nice balance of banana and clove flavor, and the dunkel excellent as well. The helles, while not of the same caliber, was still quite drinkable. We only had appetizers, which were decent and reasonably priced. The service was more than adequate, although our server might have been more attentive. I would rate Denison's as one of the better Toronto brewpubs.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Awesome! N/A N/A Great

Establishment: Lunar Brewing, Villa Park, IL

Lunar Brewing is a gem for the beer lover. This unpretentious suburban neighborhood bar has a tiny three-barrel brewing system that produces a wide variety of hand-crafted beers that reflect the brewer's interets rather than those of the masses. Expect to find styles (Belgian beers and others) not often found elsewhere. The customers are a mixture of neighborhood regulars and beer freaks, so don't be surprised if the person next to you is drinking a Bud Lite. It's kind of like Cheers with their own beer, and I mean that as a compliment.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Lousy So So So So So So

Establishment: Charly's Brew Pub was Timeout Brewery, Windsor, ON

The previous review is accurate. Charlie's is basically a rather large and somewhat popular working class bar with only one of their own beers on tap. Curiously, it's an American light lager not very different from the ordinary North American beers, although it is crisp and clean. They do live up to their claim of being Windsor's only brewpub, but it's difficult to imagine seeking out Charlie's a destination for real beer lovers.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Good Great Great

Establishment: America's Brewpub, Aurora, IL

I was prepared to dismiss America's Brewpub as trading more on the Walter Payton mystique than on the beer and food, but we were pleasantly surprised. Located in the impressively restored historic Burlington railroad roundhouse just north of downtown Aurora, the brewpub and restaurant are attractive and welcoming despite the large scale.

The beers were generally good, especially a strong Scotch ale and the medal-winning pilsner. Also interesting was a seasonal steinbier, brewed with hot rocks to give it a slight caramel sweetness. The food was less adventuresome, rather typical brewpub fare, but portions were adequate and the service attentive, at least when they are not overly crowded.

The roundhouse also serves as Aurora's commuter rail station and is accessible from downtown Chicago, making it a destination for a train trip out from the city. A Chicago visitor might find this a pleasant excursion with the added reward of good beer.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Awesome! Great Great Great

Establishment: Goose Island Beer Company - Clybourn, Chicago, IL

Goose Island was the first brewpub in Chicago and has always been a decent place to find beer and food ever since. It heralded the renaissance of Chicago's Clybourn Corridor, a formerly entirely industrial neighborhood that has become increasingly upscale over the years but retains some of its former character. Next door is Sam's Liquors, easily one of the largest liquor/wine/beer stores in the world. Goose Island's strong suit is the beer selection. There is always something to like and no shortage of styles to try. Occasionally some of them seem uninspired but you merely move on to another choice. The food is standard brewpub fare but served attractively with large portions and at fair prices. Often crowded during the dinner hours and on weekend nights, you might try Goose Island for lunch or during the afternoon. It's good to see a brewpub that has been doing something right consistently and for a long time.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good So So Great Good Good

Establishment: Traffic Jam and Snug, Detroit, MI

The TJ & Snug have a long history in the area near Detroit's Wayne State University, a "transition neighborhood" for more than 30 years. Originally a campus bar, it eventually became Michigan's first brewpub. On a recent visit we found the atmosphere comfortable and the food very good and reasonably priced. The beer, however, was only adequate, with no outstanding qualities. They all had low carbonation, which is appropriate for some styles but not all. The IPA was not as bitter and did not have as much body as the style would suggest. Still, in a metropolitan area in which almost everything seems to be in the suburbs, this is a nice place for dining and drinking in Detroit itself.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Great Great

Establishment: Pepperwood Bistro, Burlington, ON

I would dispute the review that said Pepperwood Bistro is not a true brewpub. While the beer brewed on the premises is not their focus, there are usually at least three of their own beers on tap, and they are quite decent. The bitter (although served a little cooler than the true English pub style) is excellent. There is also a fair selection of microbrews and imports in botttles. The atmosphere is that of a true bistro, comfortable and relaxed, the menu is eclectic and the prices moderate. There is live music (folk, blues, light rock) two or three nights a week and a few outdoor tables that overlook Lake Ontario across Lakeshore Drive in downtown Burlington. Pepperwood is a very pleasant place to stop for dinner or a nightcap. Recommended.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: C'est What?, Toronto, ON

C'est What is my favorite of the Toronto brewpubs. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed, and you feel at home. The beers are fermented at the pub but actually brewed elsewhere. Even so, the selection is excellent (for some reason, many Canadian brewpubs seem to a limited number of beers available), with many guest beers on tap and in the bottle. I was very fond of the coffee porter and a lambic-style framboise among the local beers. Food is typical pub fare but hearty and moderately priced. I have made a point to stop at C'est What on two separate Toronto trips and will definitely return.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Good N/A Good Great

Establishment: Merchant Ale House, Saint Catharines, ON

I thought the beer at Merchant Ale House was the best I've had on several Ontario trips during the past six months. We had a wonderful Belgian-style ale and an excellent stout. The place itself is a rather typical pub and the crowd not particularly trendy or upscale. They had pub apptizers but not a full dinner menu. Our server seemed a little indifferent and could have been more attentive. The beer, however, more than made up for any deficiencies. I'll make a point to stop in again.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good Good Good

Establishment: Granite Brewery, Toronto, ON

We had no major complaints about the beer at Granite, but nothing about it stood out. The bitter had a little more diacetyl (butterscotch flavor) than I like, and the raspberry fruit beer was made with raspberry flavoring rather than real fruit. The food was typical brewpub fare and not particularly imaginative. I will say that the pub is attractive and a pleasant enough place to spend an afternoon or evening.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
So So So So Great Great Great

Establishment: Al Frisco's, Toronto, ON

An excellent restaurant with very average beer.


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