Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

4th of July Weekend in Chicago – Part 1: The Hopleaf Bar

My wife and I made the 7+ hr. drive from Minneapolis through Wisconsin and down to Chicago over 4th of July weekend this year. Her brother and his wife recently relocated there from Newport Beach, California in order for the two of them to attend graduate school at Northwestern. They hadn’t had much opportunity to explore the area yet, and I hadn’t been to Chi-town for a decade, so we were all pretty much in the same boat. Fortunately, I’d brought my trusty issue of Beer Traveler magazine (an offshoot of a regular column in All About Beer magazine that is only produced as a full issue on an annual basis, I believe). There were multiple Chicago-area locations recommended in the issue. I knew I wanted to go to Goose Island’s first brew pub, but besides that, I really had no preference.

We decided to hit up the hop leaf for our first night in the city. This gastro pub was #9 on the magazine’s list of 150 of the best places in the world to enjoy a pint. I’ve been to a handful of places on that list, but this is the closet to the top I’ve come. Their food was delicious, very much akin to Buster’s on 28th, a favorite local hangout of mine. Amazing bottle and tap selection with an apparent focus on Belgian beers. Tried a few, myself.

The place had a bar vibe up front with no table service (we figured that out after sitting there for a few minutes and realizing everyone was going up to the bar for their drinks and no one was eating), with the actual restaurant located in back and on the second floor.

Belgians! Err... "midwesterners!"

I think I had the Urthel and the Barbar

The brisket was AMAZING!


Mmm tots and a Dogfish 90 min. IPA at some other bar that weekend. I regretted neither of these decisions.

In my next post (part 2), I’ll talk a bit about our trip to Goose Island’s Clybourn brew pub.


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