What began as a Saturday afternoon trip from the city to the Chicago Botanic Garden in the northern burbs ended up as a mini brewery jaunt — Glenview’s Macushla Brewing being the first stop out of pure geographical convenience.
Prior to Googling “nearby breweries,” we’d never even heard of Macushla, which added a little element of adventure to the spontaneous visit. Without any signage visible from the road to draw you in, the taproom can be tough to find, but it was just about full upon our arrival, proving the “if you brew it, they will come” mantra true once again.
“Damn, we should’ve come here two months ago.”
This is the thought that fluttered through my mind as I crossed Macushla’s pleasing little outdoor area to enter the taproom. My affinity for patio beer drinking is well-known, and I imagine this one — enveloped by a pergola adorned in string lights and dotted with picnic tables — is home to a lively, bustling crowd on plenty of summer nights.
The interior isn’t exactly spacious, but it’s everything a small taproom should be: warm and inviting, filled out with a couple long, rustic tables and several bar seats. A charming chalkboard menu displays the offerings behind the bar, and you even catch a glimpse of the operational side of things, as some stainless steel tanks and various pieces of equipment are visible in the background.
Atmosphere and Staff
The environment really encapsulated what makes breweries more appealing than typical bars to many people. For one, it caters to a wide range of ages and personalities, serving up beers to twenty-somethings, families with kids, and senior citizens alike on this particular day.
The atmosphere was congenial, with a few bar snacks available for order and a solid playlist cranking in the background. Plus, the bartenders take music requests, always a nice touch.
Styles Available: From hop-forward brews to Belgians, stouts and saisons, you can tickle your palate with a bit of everything.
For the Hop Heads: At a tick under 10-percent ABV, the Harm’s Way DIPA offers ample bitterness to go with a boozy body, which you can definitely taste.
For the Dark Beer Folks: A chocolatey imperial stout, the Blackbird is not. At 4.2 percent and 24 IBU, this summer stout is as close to “crushable” as the notoriously wintry style gets.
For the Serious Snobs: We didn’t get the opportunity to taste it, but if the name is any indication, the Me and My Dunkel Dunkelweizen should be a fun, seasonally appropriate experience.
For the People Who Are Going to Ask “What Tastes the Most like Bud Light?”: The Monarch Vienna Lager, but only in crispness and lightness. This is a well-made, balanced beer, with just enough toastiness to make it stand out above similarly styled offerings.
My Favorite: See immediately above — I’m a sucker for a smooth, quality lager as a non-hoppy alternative during Oktoberfest season.
Had we not been driving, we would’ve sampled more of the menu — something to keep in mind for the return visit. Based on Saturday’s experience, that will happen sooner than later.
Oh, and in case you were confused by the headline, Macushla is Irish for “my pulse,” “my lifeblood,” and “my darling.” A fitting slogan.
- As I do with most breweries shortly following my inaugural visit, I looked it up online, but this was the first time I was shocked and saddened by what I found. Macushla’s founder Mike Welch passed away this past April, though the story of friends, relatives and the community rallying to the brewery’s cause is a heartwarming read.
- The tale behind how Macushla came to be, from the time of its opening in September 2017.