Category Archives: Eating Out!

TBR Special Edition – Viva Las Vegas

Beers on the show:  Hop Valley – Citrus Mistress, Founders – Frootwood, Tahoe Mountain – Viejo Rojo.

How does this happen?

Groucho just happens to be driving through Las Vegas the same day that Superfan PJ is flying in for a 2 day work trip???  Kismet according to PJ!

Groucho and PJ hang at the local craft beer bar and have some great beers along with some conversation about Rick Steves, whiskey tastings and cigars.

Show recorded at Rebel Republic in Las Vegas Nevada!

 

Drunken Lullabies at The Social Kitchen

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I will admit to being pretty blessed when it comes to this silly little podcast that CHUD and I have been plodding along with for the past decade.  It’s taken us to San Diego where we met new friends and interviewed Greg Koch.  It’s gotten us VIP visits to breweries and opportunities to work with those breweries to get a handle of the topic.   We have interviewed top Brewers and up and comers.   It’s even gotten Groucho a steak dinner in DC!  If we made a list of benefits that come from our 6 bucks a month invested in a domain and online space… It would be an article unto itself.

Adding to this amazing pile of benefits was a recent invitation I got from Dustin “The Voice” over at Drunken Lullabies podcast.  If you don’t know them, they are the other Pekin beer podcast.  Apparently this town IS big enough for two!  Dustin was doing a remote show at the Social Kitchen in Lasalle Illinois  with a few musical acts…  And figured out through shared friends that I followed one of the artists.  Primarily, he was talking about Bob Walkenhorst of the Rainmakers.  Also filling out the bill was Cody Diekoff, more known as the solo artist “Chicago Farmer”.

Cody is from Delavan.  He has been plugging away from complete obscurity a decade ago to near local celebrity in Peoria at this time.  The last time I saw him play was back in 2005 at the Farmhouse in his hometown.   He played against a wall to a local crowd that payed him no mind.  At the time it seemed a little sad, but in hindsight appears to be a testament to the perseverance that it took to get to where he is now.

Bob Walkenhorst.  The reason I listed all the great things that TBR has brought to us was to show you the reverence I had for seeing Bob.  This is right up there as a top benefit to doing the Beer Report.  I have been following his band The Rainmakers since their first major release in 1986.  Yeah, that’s a bit of time.  Bob still plays with the band, but recently seems to spend more time doing solo engagements as he travels across the Midwest.  I pretty much own everything he has produced…  Several times over as media has transformed from LP’s, Cassette and CD’s.  If Dustin was looking for a Bob expert to tag along for this show…  There are few in the Peoria area more qualified.

Drunken Lullabies does specialize in craft beers for its podcast.  But it also serves double duty by focusing on local bands.  Dustin had a unique advantage for this hosting job when he was manager of the local record shop, Co-Op Records.  Even though he is not there anymore, his love for music is evident in his efforts to bring local artists like this to the public.

The invite was to co-host this episode.  Of course, I was taking this gig!

venue

The best part about taking part in something like this was coming across a new venue for great food, craft beer and music.  The Social Kitchen was new to me…. I had no idea that Lasalle was hiding this little gem on its historical Main Street area.

Smoked Salmon

Pre show, we sat down to dinner.  Social Kitchen’s menu is a fresh and inventive mix of local flavors.  They combine that with off the wall items.  Delicious lobster corn dogs anyone???

I had one of the amazing salads and a few Revolution IPA’s.  We shared a table with some other folks and everyone raved about their dishes.   Had we been to the Social Kitchen just to explore a new restaurant, this would have been enough to call the night a success.

promoter

Dave Gualandri got up to introduce tonight’s acts.  Dave is a rabid music fan turned promoter.  His sheer will and love to music is driving a series of concerts at Social Kitchen called the “Songwriter Series”.  I was not prepared for what he was announcing next.  He said that Bob and Cody would be playing side by side passing a virtual baton back and forth as they sang songs about subjects they had agreed to over dinner.  Of course, both artists are from small Midwestern towns, so the overall theme would consist of music aimed at this part of the world we call home.  I was game.  I wanted to hear whole show of Bob… But hey, this concept sounded interesting.

concert

For nearly two hours, Bob and Cody (Who had never met until this night) went back and forth with songs themed with subjects ranging from cars to love.  It was a compelling show that sucked you in and made a couple hours disappear long before I wanted.    Adding to charm of the performance, the Social Kitchen acoustics were paired perfectly with the two artists acoustic guitars and voices.

So, you may be saying… OK Groucho…  This all sounds amazing.   I know that I write everything like a Penthouse Forum letter.  I am just that enthusiastic!   What do you have to show for this?  Funny you should ask.  Dustin had setup a special recording of his podcast with the artists after the show.  What I have to show is Drunken Lullabies Episode 43.

podcasters

If you want to hear a couple of great Midwestern artists sing a few songs and drink Oktoberfest beers while being educated about beer by a completely entertaining writer named J.A. Konrath…  You have to listen to this one.  Oh, I’ll take credit for inspiring this episodes title as well when Konrath and I have a little fun with each other.

Thanks again Dustin for letting me tag along!

 

Links:

http://www.rainmakers.com/

http://www.chicagofarmer.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SocialKitchenLaSalle/

https://www.facebook.com/DrunkenLullabiesPodcast/

TBR Special Edition – 9AM beer and podcasting

tbrbreakfast

Hey… When its the day of the beerfest, where are you gonna eat breakfast???  A the Fox Pub of course!  Matt Rixner and his crew always serve up an amazing English breakfast on Saturdays, and its a great base layer before hitting the VIP tent.

On this show, Groucho, Chud and TBR Photographer Ken eat, drink and talk about:

  • Periscope
  • LinkdIn.  Whats the point?
  • Richard Branson has now clue about the struggle anymore.
  • Trump?
  • Democracy Now protests.
  • The internet is ruining us as a civil society.
  • Lets talk about our food…  Visualize with us!
  • Ken’s Egg theory.

Make sure to check out our other recordings from this years Peoria International Beerfest!

TBR 80 – The Harvest Cafe Show

TBR 80

Groucho gets the invite to hang in Delavan at Harvest Cafe and taste a couple of great Point Brewing beers to get us ready for Summer…  Then Kevin rolls out some secret beers and a massive BBQ plate to round everything out!

CHUD is home with the Chudlette and could not make the recording!  Hopefully, this is one of very few shows ever recorded without him!

Also on the show is Kyle from RJ Distributing.  He is the second Cicerone in the Peoria area.  We enjoy some banter between Kyle and Kevin later in the show as they discuss tap politics.

The show is over an hour!  Sorry.  You do need to stick around and hear about selfies with Auggie Busches exhumed body.  Just saying.

Beers on the show:  Point Brewing Session pale Ale, Point Brewing Siesta Key Pale Ale, Goose Island Sophie, Deschutes Disadent 2015 Reserve,  New Holland Vinilla Chia Dragons Milk.

On the show:

  1. Cicerone program.
  2. Fresh beer!
  3. Julian (Spell?) dates.
  4. Two week old beer!
  5. Porch Pounder???  Who coined that one?
  6. Cuban party with these Point beers?
  7. Kevin is the king of hugs!
  8. Groucho’s history lesson on his first visit to Harvest Cafe.
  9. Bourbon Barrel GI mistakenly priced.
  10. Shoutouts to local small bars…   Haynes on Main, Maquets and Kemps.
  11. No CHUD tonight!
  12. Kevin’s BBQ life lessons.  Make your kid the “Mop Boss”.
  13. Harvest Cafe fresh spring produce.
  14. The farm to table.  The real deal!
  15. The middle of everywhere…  Delavan IL.
  16. Bacteria!  The endless battle!
  17. Drink with your nose!
  18. Cheers Amy.
  19. Groucho gets to Soapbox.
  20. Fat Tire 25th Anniversary Beer Dinner at Harvest Cafe.  Mark your calender’s.  JUNE 21ST!!!! (Groucho, take your foot out of your mouth!)
  21. Sentimental Beer.
  22. Coor’s Banquet Beer gets a shout out!
  23. Kevin will not let the show end!!!!   More beer!
  24. BBQ Night at the Harvest Cafe!
  25. Halibut served with smashed Potatoes and local Ramps garnished with edible flowers.
  26. Kevin is becoming a foodie.
  27. Pork “Three times”.
  28. We all miss Grandpa Johns in Peoria.
  29. Kemp’s in Lexington talk edited out to protect ourselves from litigation!
  30. Kevin’s love for Notre Dame.
  31. Breakfast at Harvest.
  32. Jess, one of our “Number Ones”.
  33. Have you ever had a bad beer event…  Kevin answers all.
  34. Beer-tap wars.
  35. August Busches dead body would move some Budweiser at Harvest Cafe.
  36. Re-Grand Opening of the Exchange on April 9th!  Come down and check it out!
  37. THANK YOU HARVEST!
  38. THANK YOU KYLE from RJ Distributing.

Beers on the show are mostly Kevin’s private selections saved up for this dinner.

See you at the 2016 Peoria Jaycee’s Beerfest!

TBR 61 – Tazewell County Beer Events

TBR61

CHUD free show???  Groucho has to wing it as he hits Delavan to do a show about all the current beer doings that are coming up here in November.  Beer “Doings” in Tazewell county!!!  Lets make this be the start of a trend!!!!

Beers on the show:

Goose Island Illinois, Will Wheaten Stone Brewing collaboration beer Woot Stout, Uinta Punk’n.

On the show:

  • Groucho and Kevin man the show from Hometown Wine and Spirits.
  • Bent River Beer dinner at Harvest Cafe…  November 14th!  309 244 7000
  • Josh is working up a menu!
  • Hop infused butter!
  • Craft Beer Tasting in Pekin!
  • The Beer Report and Crescent Sun Brewing with Pekin Main Street  association at the Speakeasy in Pekin on November 21st.
  • Boulevard Brewing gets purchased by Duval…  Greg Koch starts the name calling?
  • Goose Island… Honest opinions of what they have done since being bought by Anheuser Busch.
  • Oh…  Mitch Steele is still head brewer at Stone… He hasn’t left!
  • Will Wheaten Beer.
  • Hop butter tasting… Live and in person.
  • 3 Floyds?  Where are you in Illinois???
  • Beard talk?  World series sets Groucho off.
  • Ashley from Hometown Wine and Spirits says that beards add to a mans overall appearence!?!?
  • Groucho’s San Diego trip.
  • Incredi-beard.
  • Low Rise Jeans… Groucho has a problem with them apparently!
  • Old man clothes.

Beers on the show provided by The Harvest Cafe.  Thank you for all you guys do.  Special thanks to Ashley for letting us invade her store to do the show at Hometown Wine and Spirits.

Listen here:

 

Hometown Wine & Spirits in Delavan

HWS

Kevin Myszkowski (Yeah, I had to copy and paste that) from The Harvest Cafe in Delavan rolled out the red carpet after asking us to do a show from the adjoining Wine shop, Hometown Wine & Spirits.

Ashley “Bird” Burdette (Hometown Manager) joins us to give us a brief education on Wine during the show as well.

Surprisingly good sound from the Groucho’s travel set-up. Sorry Groucho is over-modulated initially… Dont worry… I over-modulated Kevin and CHUD later in the show.

We do ring this show up to 85 Minutes… Sorry! We were having too much fun and there is not a lot of waste here. Kevin is like a top… Wind him up, and let him go!

Beers on the show: Wild Onion Hopslayer (In a Pint!), Finches Fascist Pig, Lagunitas Lil Sump’n, Darkhorse Brewing Plead the 5th, Darkhorse Brewing Scotte Karate

On the show:

  • An introduction to Hometown Wine & Spirits.
  • Hop Heads will love Delavan! Awesome beers in Delavan!
  • The Exchange will be opening soon! 12 craft taps! Nitro tap as well!
  • Farm to table at Harvest Cafe. Cameron Urban rocked the PARC/EPIC competition.
  • Craft beer can love.
  • Kevin might take CHUD’s place!
  • The Dela-Van.
  • Thomas Mathers Distillery.
  • Groucho starts the negotiations… How much Rhubarb…???
  • 3 Wine Swines.
  • Kevin loves Delavan!
  • Revolution Brewing conversation.
  • Inkling Ap… Is whipped out for a few seconds.
  • Metal Voice CHUD!
  • Limited amount of F-Bombs… Sorry!
  • Wine Bar… Defined! Ashley sits in and gives us some tips for wine.
  • Get your Zinfandel at Casey’s down the street!
  • New Menu’s daily… Kevin shares some of the secrets of what goes on behind the scenes with the staff.
  • More negotiations… What will one walleye bring?
  • TBR takeover??? Twist our arm!
  • Kevin is an AM radio dude as well.
  • Lagunitas loves to party? Kev says so!
  • Ryan Sandburg = Yoda of Beer.
  • Darklord Day talk.
  • Marketplace Selections, RJ and Specialty all supply the variety of beers on tap.
  • Boris the Crusher in Delavan???
  • Lots of laughs… As we have consumed plenty of great beer!
  • Delavan Love. Again!
  • Groucho finally negotiates a pint!
  • Final Beer… Lets kill this thing!
  • CHUD does a completely racist interpretation of the Scotte Karate label.
  • Wrap up.

THANK YOU TO KEVIN, ASHLEY AND LIBBY FOR LETTING US SPEND TIME IN YOUR STORE TO DO THIS SHOW!

DirectLink:

Harvest Cafe Beer Dinner


They are our favorite place to eat in Tazewell county… And they are having a beer dinner featuring Lost Abbey beers!!!

The Harvest Cafe sounds like the place to be on September 1st!

Unfortunately, Groucho has already signed up for a beer dinner at the Publik House in Peoria for the next week…  So, mama is laying down the law that I cant pony up for both.  I will be sure to take lots of pictures of my dinner.

If you can… Please support the local guys down in Delavan!

Here is the info:

Craft Beer Dinner Thursday September 1st

 Five course farm to table dinner paired with Lost Abbey beers – $65

 Seating begins at 5:30pm, Dinner will be served promptly at 6:00pm.

 Reservations are required

 Please call  Hometown Wine & Spirits at 309-244-9000

 

 

Destihl brings the funk!

After a long hiatus AB (now the wife!) and I went back to eat and drink at Destihl, our local upscale brewpub. Long time listeners and followers of the message board probably know the name well and remember hearing it from us on a regular basis at one time. I’m going to start off here with an apology, which some of you may have heard already, and I promise this is the last time I’ll bring it up.

Around two years ago the owner Matt Potts was gracious enough to let me come in and hang around on two ten hour brew days to get a feel of what a day in the life of a brewer is like. It was absolutely a fantastic time. The experience of seeing how things worked was invaluable and gave me new respect for the guys that do it, not to mention Matt gave me plenty of free food and beer while I was there. While there I was filming everything for a Beer Report Special. That never came out though.

A few days later AB and I stopped in to have dinner and quite frankly, we had about the shittiest customer service experience I’ve ever encountered. This wasn’t at all in line with our regular experience with the place, and we had been there very often. AB ordered a cedar plank chicken. I had gotten it once before and it was hands down the best chicken I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. We ordered it again this particular night it came out WAY undercooked. AB took one bite and sent it back. Rather than being cool about it the manager in the restaurant at the time was a complete fucking prick about taking the food back. They took it back, but he insisted on reiterating repeatedly that there was nothing wrong and that it was fine, and continuously implied she was just being bitchy. I’m a dude. I know when guys perceive women are being unreasonably bitchy and this was not one of those moments. I couldn’t figure it out. If you’re going to take the food back, take it the fuck back but don’t start a confrontation over it. Why? You’re comping the cost of the meal, why go out of your way to piss off a customer, especially a pair your most loyal and gung ho customers at that? I mean, seriously, we loved the place. This is was like coming home to finding a girl who you had put way up on a pedestal in your mind taking crystal meth and fucking your creepy neighbor.

What I should have done was send an e-mail immediately to Matt Potts. I have to no doubt he would have done whatever he could to fix the situation. Instead of doing that though I basically said, “fuck that place” and didn’t go back and never did anything with the video. Considering how much generosity had been shown to The Beer Report by Matt that was really a weak thing to do on my part. I’m sure he would have wanted to know one of his employees is shitting on the business he spent every waking moment of his life trying to get off the ground. So Matt, I’m sorry about taking advantage of your hospitality.

With that out of the way, bring on the story of a Behind the Brewery redemption!!!

AB and I decided to stop there again on a Saturday as part of their Oktoberfest kick off and were drawn in by finding our they had something AB and I have been hunting after for years. When we got there it was packed to the gills. The hostess at the counter said we would have a 35 minute wait but it was only about half that. What looked like an old German husband and wife team jammed some seriously cool Oktoberfest music, him on a small drum set and her on an accordion. We got a good table with a view of them.

We started off with a few beers and appetizers. AB got a Oengus Irish Stout. It was a good stout, slightly dry and roasty the way it should be and very drinkable. It had thick black color and ¾ inch thick soft frothy head. Then came the star of the evening. It was a sour cherry ale they refer to as part of their Saint Dekkera series. (The genus name Dekkera is used interchangeably with Brettanomyces. – from the interwebs) The waitress said the beer was aged for a year and nine months in oak with the wild yeast added half way through the aging process. Holy shit… It was beautiful. It came served in a large snifter, having a light color with a hint of red. It smelled like true Belgium farmhouse funk. The waitress tried to warn me, saying it could be hard to drink a glass if you weren’t used to the taste. Well, it was hard to drink a whole glass because I could have spent 2 hours sipping and savoring every drop. It started out slightly sour and funky on the front of your palette, and then just exploded down the sides of your tongue. Fucking glorious!!! Immediately beers like Cantillon Kriek and Fantome came to mind. Yeah, that’s right, this thing sits up there in the realm of the best Belgian beers I’ve ever had. It was like getting a handy with every sip. I was practically in convulsions. I’m going back for more of this.

The appetizers we got were pretty good too. First up were bacon and blue cheese deviled eggs. You can’t really screw up that combination can you? They rocked. We also got the stone fired pretzels. They were like the big pretzels you would get at the theatre but better. They came fresh, crispy on the outside and doughy in the middle. It comes with a side of kind of generic cheddar cheese on one side but some absolutely killer red ale Dijon mustard cream sauce as well.

The anticipation for the main course was feverish after things had started so well. One thing AB and I have spent hours lamenting over since leaving Florida is the utter lack of good Cuban sandwiches here in Illinois. There are a few half ass attempts around, Reggie’s in Normal makes a Barbecue Cuban that’s okay, but nothing that really does it justice. The possibility of getting a good Cuban is really what drew us back in. So how were they? Nearly perfect. Not completely traditional but close enough and amazingly good. They had big crusty pieces of Cuban bread, a fat slab of pork on the bottom, think slices of ham, nicely melted cheese, seriously WTF out of this world pickles, and a spicy kick of hot IPA mustard sauce. We were in heaven. The only element that might have been questionable was the onion. Not bad by any means, but just another element that maybe wasn’t needed. I didn’t mind them, but AB thought that they might have added just a little too much with them. They came with thinly cut fries. They were fine I guess but nothing too special. The sandwich came in a pretty beastly portion on its own so they weren’t really at the top of my priority list.

Time for dessert!!! That meant a big glass of their Bela Oak Aged & Dry Hopped Imperial Pilsner. Destihl didn’t fail to wow me again. There was very little head but big and balanced flavor. It had a big body but not too big. Strongly hopped, but not overly so. The oak made itself very noticeable, but not to where it was distracting from the beer itself. The balance in this beer was masterful.

Ab ordered a giant tart thing that was pretty good but I can’t remember what it was exactly,. It had a rocking, super sour lemon custard and fresh berries. I was enjoying my beer too much to get into it.

After these two big beers I had to call it a night as I was driving but I could have sat around drinking more even though I was completely stuffed. I was left feeling very impressed with what was both in the glasses and on the plates and kicking myself for not being more of a regular. The atmosphere that night was very fun. I didn’t even get around to mentioning that the architecture of the restaurant is completely unique and upscale but also makes note of its Midwest surroundings. A great view of the brewing operations is always a plus for us beer geeks as well.

Overall, this was one of the most satisfying meals and most enjoyable nights out a restaurant I’ve had in a long time. For the quality of everything the price wasn’t so bad either. It’s not the venue for a cheapskate but it will by no means break your bank to have some good food and killer beers. Cheers to Matt Pots and the rest of the Destihl crew for putting an awesome place in Central Illinois. I think it’s about time to stock up on some growlers.

Arthur Bryants Kansas City BBQ

Holy Smokes!  (Bad BBQ pun?)  Sometimes you stumble on something so special that you start to wonder how many other places you are missing out on!  Unique family owned or started eateries probably number in the millions across the US.

Perfect example.  Arthur Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City Mo.  (Stolen photo above, ignore the date) The place has been around for 50 years…  Probably served a million people…  And I would have had no clue it existed if it had not been for a review on the Urban Spoon iPhone application. 

Lets back up.  On our family trip back from Denver, we had planned on stopping and spending the night in Kansas City Mo.  We knew we wanted some Kansas City BBQ…  And I also wanted to hit a brewpub if possible.   Well, we are talking about Kansas here…  Part of the craft beer wasteland that is the Midwest!  After using the “Find Craft Beer” app… The brewery and brewpub selection was not much to speak of.  Boulevard, the biggest brewery in the area does not serve food.  Beer themed dining was looking like a washout.

 It was decided that BBQ would be the better direction to lean, and if the establishment had decent beer…  That would be a plus! 

 
Outside the resturant of Arthur Bryants in Kansas City MO

Let me be REAL upfront here and say that we were a little worried about the neighborhood surrounding the restaurant.  The “HUD” was literally down a block…  They had a security guard walking the parking lot…  And I could see the boyz cruising the neighborhood with rims twice the size as those on my Swaggerwagon.

Margaret and I said, “What the Hell”…  If the kids are gonna get some culture… It might as well be KC just as it might be Rome!  Get out and try out the local flavor!  So, we got of the car… And I checked twice to make sure it was locked!

To be fair… There was no threat to my life here.  It was a Monday afternoon… The place was full…  And it was smelling like Heaven on Earth outside.  How can crime be inflicted in the presences of smells like this?

We got in cue for the order process a few seconds after walking through the door…  I determined very quickly that we better have our crap together before they go to us at the order window.

“Watta ya have” was being yelled at every customer who walked up the “chefs” at the order window.  Then it was: Bing Bang Boom…   Dinner served on a plate and at the cashier within a minute.

Oh man!  This menu looks so simple… But complicated! 

“Watta ya have”

Crap!!!  Fortunately they were talking to the folks in front of me.  But to make matters worse…  Evern plate that is walking past me looks nothing like what I am expecting on the menu.  WHAT TO GET!!!!

“Watta ya have”

Uhhhhh…. 

Margaret ordered first…  Some kind of pulled pork open face sandwich.  That’s pretty safe…  No biggie.  This kids ordered a ham sandwich… Not knowing it might the most awesome smoked ham they might have in their entire life… Not just their short life till now!  I got crazy and ordered the Pork Ribs… Short End.  Not even knowing what the difference was!  “Watta ya have” was in my face now…. And I was in near panic mode!  “Short Ribs”, I blurted out. 

Dammit… I hope I did OK.  Did I look like a moron noob???  I’m sure to them I did.  As a saving grace.   At the end of the order line they had 2 beers on draft.  1 was Miller lite, the other was Boulevard Pale Ale.  Ahhhhh…. Something I didn’t look like a moron ordering!  “I’ll take a Pale Ale” I proclaimed with confidence. 

Rib tip sandwich with a Boulevard Pale Ale

The food was amazing.  My ribs were perfectly cooked.  As I mentioned above, the kids had amazing smoked ham on a sandwich split between the two of them.  Margaret’s pulled pork was tasty… And a generous portion.  I drenched a corner of my plate in some of the Arthur Bryant KC sauce.  It was dry and bitter.  Nothing sugary or sweet about it.  I rolled every rib with a dose of the Bryant sauce.   After polishing off those ribs, some extra greasy fries and that pale ale… I was done!  I saw that everyone else was feeling the same way.  “Blowed out!”

Totally satisfied!  Totally worth the stop!  If you are in KC… You would be insane not to stop and getta a dose of “Watta ya have?”