Lexington does not have a brewpub. We have two breweries. We have maybe two more breweries on the way. We have a downtown bar that serves very good hamburgers. We have a downtown gastropub with a chalkboard beer menu and very good hamburgers. But we don’t have a brewpub. For a town this size, it makes no sense that we do not have a place that brews beer and serves food. For a town this size, it makes no sense that we do not have a place that brews beer and makes really good hamburgers.
I like brewpubs. I like the wood. I like the chalkboard menus. I like sampler trays. I like the typical hamburgers and fish and chips on the menu. Revolution in Chicago maks a solid fish and chips. I like the fries. In fact, when I’m travelling and hitting up brewpubs from place to place, I eat too many fries. I overdose on fries. I’m always convinced that the next place will have the best fries on the planet, and I have to try them. Moylans did not have the best fries on the planet. Broadway opened without a fryer (how dare they!). I don’t remember the fries at 5 Seasons. The fries at Black Star were pretty good. Wicked Weed had pretty good fries. The fries at Nodding Head were not memorable. Against the Grain has served and not served fries.
Last week, we travelled to Wicked Weed in Asheville. Wicked Weed is a new brewpub in a city with maybe a third of Lexington’s population but maybe six times a many breweries. Asheville is a city with a third of Lexington’s population but so many beers distributed there that you might mistake a visit to Brusin Ales for a visit to Belmont Station. Wicked Weed is a brewpub in Asheville with great food. And it is a brewpub with great beer. And it is a brewpub with a downstairs tasting room. And it is a brewpub with a chalkboard menu. And it is a brewpub that I wish were located down the street from my house. It’s the kind of brewpub that I fantasize about: hamburgers, fries, super hoppy IPAs, and a cellar where sours and bourbon aged beers are served. My only complaint is the no sampler on Friday or Saturday rule, the two days I am likely to visit on when we pass through on the weekend.
I love brewpubs. I love brewpubs because they are family oriented. A brewpub is an excuse for lunch or dinner where I can take my kids, get a sampler, drink a few beers, eat good food, and there is no guilt of leaving my kids at home so that I can drink beer. Brewpubs embrace family. Goose Island offers crayons. Bear Republic serves ice cream. Great Dane gives away ballons. For every beer drinker that looks annoyed that my kids are playing with toy dinosaurs or dolls at the table while I drink a beer, there are plenty of beer drinking dads who get it, who don’t want to be an alone at the bar kind of guy, who don’t want to go off without their kids in the middle of the day, who are tired at night and not in the mood to drive across town in order to sit at a bar, but who want to taste a fine IPA or cherry sour beer when it comes on tap.
A few weeks ago, I hosed a small tasting and mentioned that my daughter had been to Russian River a few years ago. “Russian River!!!” was the response. Shock. Jealousy. Surprise. Here was a six year old who had been to a brewpub many beer drinkers fantasize about. When we visited Russian River, we did not have fries, though. We ate a pizza. Pizza is another staple food at brewpubs. If Flat Branch did any food ok, it was the pizza. Piece in Chicago does a decent pizza.
My daughter’s life began with brewpubs: Otto’s in State College. This summer, she and her brother will hopefully visit a few more, including a return trip to Three Floyd’s where a couple years ago she shared a sandwich, and he sat in a high chair. He no longer sits in high chairs. We’ve passed much time in brewpubs. I enjoy sitting in a brewery or craft beer bar at one o’clock in the afternoon like any other university professor who can either have a mid-day beer or grocery shop during working hours. But I also enjoy beer with food and family. The brewpub grants me such enjoyment. In praise of the brewpub, I say. In praise of Wicked Weed, one of the best brewpubs I’ve been to in recent memory. And in praise of whatever Lexington investor who has about a million dollars to build one here in town. On the south side. Not too far from where I live. We need a go to place. We need a go to brewpub.