Drink of the week: Two Brothers Domaine DuPage French Country Ale
Where you can find it: Village Tap
The damage: $4.50 for a pint, $16 for a pitcher; I got lucky and stopped in when Domain DuPage was the "beer of the day," so I landed a pint for $4.
Why here? Though Village Tap has one of the most appealing beer gardens in the city, with rows of roomy picnic tables and a tucked-away locale, I've never been to the bar when it wasn’t hovering around 30 degrees or colder. Why I always overlook the Roscoe Village watering hole during the summer, I don't know, but I think I've pinned down why I remember it come November: Its brew list rivals those of the more-lauded Hopleaf and Map Room, but it's located much closer to home.
How it went down: My friends and I stopped by the Tap at 8 p.m. on a Friday, when the front room was already filled with neighborhood regulars and groups of twenty- and thirtysomethings. We passed the long narrow space, with the dark wood bar running nearly its entire length, and headed for the beer garden out back. The geniuses behind Village Tap easily triple the bar's capacity by keeping the garden open year-round. A brick wall surrounds the space with a canopy capping it off at the sign of the first chill. A heating system pumps warm air into the space, though the comfort-level varies throughout the open room.
The moment we settled into an uninhabited picnic table, our server stopped by to say hello and inform us that Domaine DuPage was on special that night. Though I didn't have the slightest idea what set a French Country Ale apart from an IPA or brown ale, I put my faith in Two Brothers Brewery, from Warrenville, Illinois, and ordered a pint. I've long been a fan of the family-owned brewery's seasonal suds, like the deliciously hoppy Cane & Ebel red ale, and was interested to try one of its perennial flavors.
With just a touch of bitterness balanced out by caramel notes and subtle fruitiness, Domaine DuPage didn't disappoint. It had a well-rounded flavor and slight effervescence. Its dark amber color was a bit misleading; it was delicate and drinkable enough to polish off a few rounds of the stuff, which I naturally did.
Would I want to become a regular? We ordered a plate of nachos, with a thick layer of cheese and a heavy handed sprinkling of jalapenos, and a BLT served up in a pita. The food matched the brew list in terms of going above the norm. With 26 beers on tap, many of which rotate seasonally, and American craft brews, Belgian ales and imports by the bottle, the Tap is definitely a beer-drinker's joint and one that I'll be snuggling into over the next few frigid months. Now, if only I can remember to make it back for those summer brews.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.