It’s Always Beer O’Clock at Noon Whistle Brewing

After spending an enjoyable Father’s Day afternoon at Noon Whistle Brewing in west suburban Lombard, my curiosity — pertaining to the name of the establishment, specifically — led me to the old Google machine.

img_6601To my surprise and delight, there is a fun little anecdote behind Noon Whistle’s name.

As the story goes, the co-owner and brewmaster vacationed as a child with his family every year in a small Wisconsin town that's home to a unique tradition: each day, a whistle sounded at noon, alerting citizens that it was now time to pop open the first beer of the afternoon.

More than beer, this tradition was about family, friends and camaraderie — a theme the brewery seems to have carried over into its operations. In today's era of divisiveness and anxiety, this is something we can all get behind, no doubt.

First Impressions

I’m not a fan of strip malls. They’re kind of the antithesis of everything I and many others love about local craft breweries. An embodiment of corporate America, they’re soulless, lacking in character, surrounded by pavement and cars and Applebee’s and gas stations.

I say this because, if you’re cut from the same cloth as I am, you should not let the sprawling strip mall environment deter you from visiting Noon Whistle. Once you walk through the door, you could just as easily be standing in a refurbished old barn along a river in Portland, Oregon or inside a revamped former industrial meatpacking plant in Brooklyn.

Atmosphere and Staff

The space is lively, cozy and LOUD. Our group consisted of eight people, and the sole complaint among the crew was our utter inability to hear each other across the table over the deafening music.

Which was a shame, but not a total loss, because they played some jams. Have you ever heard anyone grumble about a 90s-themed night at a local bar? Me either. And with old hits from the likes of Blink 182 and The Offspring being churned out, why would you?

Popular taprooms are rarely quiet on Sunday afternoons, but this one was especially vibrant on Father’s Day. Noon Whistle was prepared, with a well-staffed bar and plenty of four-packs of 16-ounce brews available, most of which were absolutely flying off the shelves.

The Brewskis

nw-fbWhen the beer hits the spot the afternoon following an ambitious craft beer crawl (as was the case on this day) that has left you dragging, you know you’ve found a quality watering hole.

This brewery singles out sessions as its specialty style, but in reality (at least with this particular lineup), the beer menu of a dozen or so offerings looked remarkably familiar in today’s craft climate.

Styles Available: All of the standard options, plus a Kölsch, a dry-hopped sour, and a super-light fruit beer (3.8 percent).

For the Hop Heads: The “pocalypse” suffix may be a bit overused, but in this case, it accurately illustrates the heavy dose of El Dorado, Simcoe and Citra hops the Gummypocalypse New England IPA deftly dishes out.

For the Dark Beer Folks: For those seeking an alternative to milky stouts and porters during the summer months, a well-executed Brown Ale like the Rye Barrel-Aged Duderino gets the job done with a nutty, boozy finish.

For the Serious Snobs: It was far too sweet for me, but drinkers whose palates are more receptive to sours may enjoy the candied complexity of the Smack That! dry-hopped Sour Ale.

img_6596For the People Who Are Going to Ask “What Tastes the Most like Bud Light?”: Golden, wheaty and light, the Freshman @ Life Kölsch edges out the Cozmo Pale Ale, the latter of which is disqualified by its fruity undertones and notable hops.

My Favorite: The majority of the Father’s Day gang came for the G’Day Gummy Northeast IPA — my dad had been raving about it for weeks — and the main attraction certainly did not disappoint. Both of us walked away with a four-pack.

Final Word

Once you wade through all of the bland fast food restaurants, retail storefronts and auto shops to discover the hidden gem that is Noon Whistle, I’m confident you’ll want to pull up a chair and stay awhile. Rainstorms prevented us from sitting outside, but the option exists, which is more than you can say for most Chicago taprooms.

You’ll find an enjoyable, neighborly atmosphere, solid brews and an attentive staff. Just make sure to bring a DD for the ride home.

Fun Links

  • A unique aspect of Noon Whistle’s cans is the ability to remove the entire top — as opposed to popping a small opening like you do with standard cans. The brewery had to fight for it though, advocating for changes to a 1988 Illinois law that prohibited the practice.
  • Mike Condon, one of the brewery’s owners, discussed Noon Whistle’s recent success and past struggles with Voyage Chicago this past December.

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