Illinois Brewing Insider: Beer on the Wall’s Josh Sissman on an appreciation for Alarmist, Hop Butcher and Hopleaf, quality family time on the Une Année patio, and exploring the artistry from Alpha Brewing in St. Louis
Beer on the Wall in Park Ridge, IL (with additional locations in Arlington Heights & Elmhurst)
Favorite breweries: Some of my favorites are Alarmist, Maplewood and Illuminated Brew Works. I’ve learned to appreciate those that don’t take themselves too seriously and make fun beer that’s accessible. I like brands that make great year-round beer but also some creative one-offs. All three of those also also have really fun taprooms.
Drinking tendencies: Since reaching dad status last year, I’ve slowed down a bit, but I enjoy pale ales all summer long and malty lagers throughout the winter. Dark Czech lagers and pilsners too, of which Roaring Table has put out some really good ones lately. I find myself diving back into super hoppy DIPAs at times, especially from Hop Butcher. They just have certain recipes that I can’t ignore. The fun part of being near Chicago is the seasonality factor with beer that is exciting when we remember what’s coming around the corner.
I find myself diving back into super hoppy DIPAs at times, especially from Hop Butcher. They just have certain recipes that I can’t ignore.
Recent beers that have caught your eye: Mortalis Brewing Co. from New York, who we get stuff from every once in a while in the store, always knocks it out of the park no matter the style. The Frog Stack series from Phase Three — fruited sours that are a little sweeter — is great. I get a sweet tooth this time of year, and the caramel apple cider from Misbeehavin’ Meads was really good.
What are you looking forward to enjoying on draft late fall and early winter?
One of the Goose Island Bourbon County stouts is a rice pudding variety — the Proprietor’s stout — that I’m really excited about. Raisins, brown sugar, cassia bark and toasted rice.
We made a dark version of our Take One Down German lager collaboration with MORE Brewing too. It’s called Pass It Around and came out in October.
Also, the Baphomet bock from Revolution is a seasonal one that I love.
Favorite beer bar in Illinois: My wife and I lived in Chicago for seven years and have been out of the city for three, but I always find my way back to Hopleaf in Andersonville. My wife will get her sours, and I get my saisons. And the food is always on point there. The Green Lady in Lakeview is just a really chill atmosphere and features a good amount of Belgians. My brother took me to Lone Wolf Tavern in the West Loop recently and we crushed some Afterburner Marzens from Metropolitan there. I’ll be back.
I was pleasantly surprised by Alpha Brewing Company in St. Louis. Good food, good beer, good atmosphere. It was also super cool from an artistic standpoint.
Best brewery you’ve hit on vacation: I went to St. Louis and had a great time hitting all the usual suspects, but I was pleasantly surprised by Alpha Brewing Company. Good food, good beer, good atmosphere. It was also super cool from an artistic standpoint. They really had everything you could look for and fit right in among all the bigger names.
Secret beer spot: I love Uné Annee/Hubbard’s Cave in Niles. If my wife is out of town, I can take my daughter there and know she’ll love the mac & cheese and the patio and counting all the barrels. They have a great variety with all the beer styles too, and they have so many available to go if you like what you had.