12 May 2009

Day after DLD - "Walter Payton's Roundhouse"

After hitting the hay pretty early on DLD (12+ hours of drinking imperial stouts is exhausting), we woke up fully refreshed and embarked on our detour to Walter Payton's Roundhouse. Well, it was sort of a 1 hour detour, but whatever. We also learned that Two Brothers is very close to Walter Payton's, so we'll have to remember that for next time.

Also this guy was selling '04-'06 Dark Lord outside the parking lot of our hotel. Not sure I'd trust buying aged beer out of the back of some random dude's trunk, but whatever.

Walter Payton's Roundhouse is home to America's Brewing Company. That's sort of a generic name, so we like to stick with Walter Payton's Roundhouse. We were first introduced to this brewery back in 2006 at GABF when we tried their Oompa-Loompa White Chocolate Beer. I'd describe that here, but it's a brewpub standard that we tried on tap, so I'll save it for later in the article. Overall, we were very impressed with their lineup at GABF and tucked away the mental note that we need to make the trip to Aurora sometime. The building itself is pretty cool, lots of solid wood on the interior, reminiscent of German architecture, and the entire building is a giant doughnut shape.

We arrived around 11am and were among a handful of dedicated beer drinkers in the bar. Our bartender was very friendly and offered us up samples of a number of beers, as well as filling us in on a bit of history about the place and their brewmaster. The following beers were on tap:

  • Payton Pilsner
  • Payton Pilsner Light
  • Sweetness Stout
  • Honey Wheat
  • Aurora Amber (Original Ale)
  • Chocolate Beer
  • Brew Moon Kolsch
  • Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
  • Peat Smoked Scotch Ale

We decided to go with the "try everything" option and ordered samplers. On with the tasting notes!

Payton Pilsner
This Pilsner was a bit surprising. Typically in a brewpub you expect the Pilsner to be the closest thing to a Bud or Miller product. While that would technically be true here, we were met with a real Pilsner. The nose was very faint on this offering, but the mouthfeel was very creamy and substantial. Light notes of wheat, lemon and corn filled out a very refreshing beer. There may even be a hint of peanut butter in the finish. While we were at the bar, one patron came up and asked the bartender what the beer he was drinking was (Pilsner) and was astonished because he usually didn't like light beers.

Honey Wheat
This wheat is slightly darker in color and comes in at 5.7% ABV. It's a filtered wheat with a hint of orange color on the edges which matches the nose of orange blossoms and a hint of hops. The taste is that of oranges, cloves and a solid sweet wheat that finishes with just a hint of blueberries. I don't know if the fruit was too much, but I wasn't sold on this offering.

Original Ale
This amber took an interesting approach to the style and went the unfiltered route. The nose here was also fairly weak. This was a slightly hoppy amber with a grassy hop flavor and background notes of lemongrass and caramel. Not bad, but not really standout either.

Chocolate Beer
This was our reason for making the pilgrimige to Aurora, IL from Munster the weekend of Dark Lord Day, to have another pint of the elusive beer that tastes like chocolate and looks like a pilsner. It's dark golden yellow color is clearly filtered with a nice pillowy head retention. From looking at this amazing beer you never realize the chocolate frosting experience that is going to be coming your way. The deliciously decadent nose is that of a can of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting and pure madagascar vanilla extract. It tastes like a chocolate bar with a crust of chocolate frosting, if we were ranking this in top ten beers this would make mine. I can't say enough good things about this beer - I could have drank a growler of this in one sitting!

Sweetness Stout
This is a dark brown offering clocking in at 5.78% ABV. It's pretty transparent and looks more like a porter. That's where the differences end though - it smells like a heath bar with notes of toffee, chocolate and hazelnuts. The taste is that of a sweet milk stout with a dry irish roasted malt finish. I'm finding myself wishing that we could get the Sweetness Stout and the Chocolate Beer closer to home.

Peat Smoked Scotch Ale
This special offering probably isn't going to be what you're expecting. No bourbon barrels here, just a strong, sweet ale made with malts you'd find in a scotch recipe. This one had a super sweet nose of caramel and honey. Peat was noticeable in the flavor profile (sort of a soil-like smoky flavor if you're not a scotch drinker) along with toffee, caramel and something that we could only describe as blue cheese. An interesting experience but probably not something I'd order a pint of.

Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
This one brought home a medal at the Festival of Bourbon Aged Beers in Chicago (gold if I recall correctly). Tons of sweet bourbon and vanilla in the nose. Common imperial stout flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, maple and of course bourbon are all found here. There's a slight sourness in the background that I can't tell if it's intentional or not. Definitely a very taste bourbon aged imperial stout, so good we brought home a 4-pack.

If you ever find yourself in the area, making a trip to Walter Payton's Roundhouse and Two Brothers' would be recommended. We'll definitely be back so that we can try Two Brothers' as well, but we were content with the interesting selection of beers we had at Walter Paytons'. It would also be nice to check out their comedy club, live music, cognac bar, restaurant or coffee house sometime. This place is a one-stop nightlife center.

Oh and if you've had the Pizza Beer, this is the place that helped Tom Seefurth launch his bizarre concoction.

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