To inform your voting in CHOW’s monthlong Best Brewpub in America Bracket, we’re throwing the spotlight on individual matchups.
What makes a winning brewpub? Great beer: check. Pubby or otherwise beer geeky vibe: double check. Food that’s something more than a fusion of meat, grease, and carbs to keep you from getting too hammered too fast: triple check. With those criteria in mind, we turned to the user-reviewers of BeerAdvocate to see how they rate the third matchup in this second round of bracket voting: Appalachian Brewing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, versus Chicago’s Revolution Brewing.
As for Appalachian—one of the largest brewpubs in the nation—it’s like a brewpub megamall: The three floors include a huge downstairs bar area with 17 taps going on one recent afternoon, reports BA reviewer beer2day, including 2 on cask and 5 separate IPAs flowing. Amidst the vastness, the place communicates a sense of history, says GodlessWatermelon, with “much of the furniture and floors / walls / beams … from the early 1900s.” The second-floor Abbey Bar (which is also a live-music venue) is like Belgian world, with over 50 of them available in the bottle and on draft. “It is always nice to get a Saison Dupont and sit outside on the deck in the summer,” says orangesol. And at least some of the food is as big as the brewpub itself. “I had to just about dislocate my jaw taking bites of my ~10 dollar burger,” GodlessWatermelon notes.
Meanwhile, in the city of big shoulders, Revolution Brewing is consistently packed with thirsty Chicagoans. The huge space on Milwaukee Avenue has a “nice contemporary (but not corporate) feel,” observes Coldriver. The beer is of “very high quality,” uwmgdman says, noting that “taps [are] served in appropriate glassware.” The food is the other reason to battle the crowds. “The cheddar ale dip is amazing,” uwmgdman reports. Favorites include polenta fries with smoked tomato aioli and the pork belly and egg sandwich. One strategy for making sure you get a seat: blowing off work to hoist a few. BertSugar offers this advice: “Drinking during the day here usually helps to avoid the large crowds that get in the way.” Duly noted.
Think you got it? Go vote. Remember: This round ends today, so don't wait! And may the raddest brewpub prevail.
Top photograph by Jennifer Yin / SF Beer Week