Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Piece Out

On our way out of town, KJ and I finally made it to the brew pub we'd been hoping to get to all along. Honestly, we had no idea what we would have been missing had we opted to skip it. I really just wanted to get a taste of something locally-brewed, and the fact that Rick Nielsen is a part owner was simply a bonus. What I didn't know was that Piece would deliver the best new (to me) beer I've had since visiting Oregon back in August.

The thought crossed our minds to order a variety of 3-oz. samples, but instead we opted to cut straight to the chase and go with the styles we were really craving. "We're hoppy people," KJ said to our waiter, who lumped himself into the same category. I ordered a supercharged IPA named Dysfunctionale, and KJ's selection was an Imperial IPA called Wack Job. What she didn't realize was that the latter weighed in at 9% ABV.

My first impression of the Dysfunctionale was of its pleasantly mild grapefruity hop aroma and profile, the bitterness of which perfectly balanced its full-bodied maltiness. My first smell and taste of the Wack Job, though, revealed how truly subtle the Dysfunctionale's notes of grapefruit are, as those characteristics in this one blew me away. Much more hoppy than the Dysfunctionale, the Wack Job is slightly higher on the bitterness end of the scale, but still very well balanced.

Although rating both of them highly, KJ clearly preferred the Wack Job. I couldn't decide which I liked better, but can honestly say they are the best pair of brew pub ales I've had since Old Lompoc's LSD and C-Note Imperial Pale Ale.

Our waiter also gave us small samples of two other brews, Marketing Ploy—an IPA that isn't as well-balanced as the others, but is solid—and Surrender—a Belgian Farmhouse Saison that's pretty good, but a little too sweet after the highly hopped beers we already had. Of course, it was the name of the latter that piqued my curiosity, but I still chose the Wack Job for my second beer, despite already sampling much of KJ’s.

Piece Pizzeria & Brewery
The beer isn't all that Piece has going for it. The service is excellent, and their brand of New Haven-style thin crust pizza is tremendous as well. We ordered ours with pepperoni, banana peppers and garlic, a delectable combination. The atmosphere is great also, with plenty of music memorabilia hanging from the walls, including a Rick Nielsen trademark five-neck guitar. Playing from the tavern's sound system was an excellent mix of indie rock, much of it highly recognizable and some just slightly familiar, all at a reasonable volume. That is, not nearly as loud as in other places with similar vibes.

After that, we hopped back on the 'L' to O'Hare, quite content that we had ended our visit to a great city on an extremely high note.

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