Brewpub Bracket: Brawl Up the Middle

To inform your voting in CHOW’s monthlong Best Brewpub in America Bracket, we’re throwing a daily spotlight on individual matchups.

No, the Grumpy Troll isn’t that mean dude trying to pick you up at the bar: It’s the name of a fantastic brewpub in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, just west of Madison. Don’t miss the award-winning Captain Fred lager, named for Frederick Pabst, who went on to macrobrew fame (or infamy, depending on your point of view). After a couple of those, you shouldn’t drive, but when you sober up (after munching on cheese curds and Grump Chips), make the three-hour drive to Chicago’s Revolution Brewing, located in charming old Logan Square. Revolution has some three dozen beers in its repertoire, including Anti-Hero IPA and the four-hops Iron Fist Pale Ale, which goes down pretty easy with a bowl of bacon fat popcorn.

Up next, an all-Pennsylvania throwdown. They do things bigger in Harrisburg—when it comes to building brewpubs, anyway. Harrisburg’s Appalachian Brewing Co. measures 50,000 square feet. It’s huge enough to bring everyone you know to sip the Trail Blaze Organic Brown Ale, which has its own ingredient-handling system to ensure it can be called “organic.” Thankfully, Appalachian has the room to accommodate it. Travel east to Philadelphia and you can’t miss Nodding Head Brewery. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in reputation—especially for its Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, a low-ABV sour wheat beer.

Since it’s in the Twin Cities, maybe it’s only fitting that Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery was founded by two childhood friends. IPA and Scotch ale are the house specialties, as well as seasonal gems like the tropical fruit–infused Mango Mama. When it’s nice outside, you can chill on the sweet outdoor patio. Meanwhile, about 1,200 miles south on I-35, Austin’s North by Northwest serves an eclectic mix of beers that look to Germany and the Pacific Northwest for inspiration (cases in point: the Pyjingo Pale Ale and Okanagan Black Ale). Keep up your strength with the roasted garlic bulb appetizer and salmon with blue cheese scalloped potatoes. Yee-haw, cowboy.

Think you got it? Go vote. Remember: This round ends today, so don't wait. And may the best brewpubs kick ass!

Top photograph by Jennifer Yin / SF Beer Week

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