A wedding celebration is usually a rousing experience, and attending one this past weekend in the faraway land of Lincoln, Nebraska was no exception.
Though it was a busy affair — two road trips exceeding seven hours, catching up with friends and family, a rehearsal reception, some quick sightseeing, the ceremony itself and the reception — our group was shrewd enough to slip visits to two local breweries into the agenda without shirking any responsibilities or showing up late to any events.
Priorities, kids. They’re important.
The search for our first taproom didn’t require much effort; it sat across the street from our hotel. To quote the great Kevin McCallister: “How convenient!”
A faint murmur during the final hour or so of the drive, my beer alarm was wailing by the time we arrived. One of three Zipline Brewing locations, this taproom is set up like a classic German beer hall, anchored by long community-style benches with a small, six-seater bar.
Assuming it is not utterly awful, the first beer after a full day of driving will almost always taste invigorating, so I’m wary of overstating the quality of the flagship IPA. But it’s pretty darn good. I can see how it helped propel Zipline into one of the area’s more popular beer destinations.
We also sampled:
- The Kölsch: There’s nothing extraordinary about it, but it’s a well-executed, easy-drinker with floral hops and a light body.
- Post-Hype Pale Ale: The fruitiness was a little aggressive for me, but it has a nice hop-malt balance, ideal for those who enjoy citrusy, mildly bitter pale ales.
Unfortunately, our stop-in was fleeting, and I can’t quite envision a return trip to Lincoln on the horizon. Zipline is certainly worth checking out, though.
When I discovered the staircase descending into the brewery’s below-ground entrance, I had a feeling I was going to like Boiler Brewing. Once I stepped inside, I knew.
Only a couple years old, the brewpub looks as though it’s been a downtown staple for decades. It’s dimly lit, with warm brick walls, a substantial bar, several booths and a few tables. If you look closely, you’ll find unique little seating areas tucked into random nooks and crannies of the space. If it weren’t for the four gleaming, stainless steel brewing tanks behind the bar, you could easily mistake it for a hidden basement cocktail lounge or a 21st century speakeasy.
As sleek as the aesthetics are, the fun is in the beer. I’m proud to declare that I officially sampled the strongest beer of my life that afternoon — an 18.4-percent ABV behemoth aptly titled Quintuple Dog Dare IIIIIPA V2.
My hands trembled as I raised the tasting glass, but Nebraska’s biggest commercially-produced craft beer wasn’t scary, just eye-poppingly boozy. So much so, I didn’t really catch any of the other flavors. But we drank it, and that’s what matters.
We also tried:
- Greg Got Peanut Butter In My Chocolate: From a non stout/porter guy (meaning this is high praise), I loved this concoction. Unsurprisingly, it’s rich with peanut butter and chocolate notes, but it’s also much smoother than most stouts, which I enjoyed.
- Boiler-o-Festivus: Essentially a high-octane Oktoberfest — my favorite of the visit. Delicious.
- That! Tangering Hop Harmony: This isn’t exactly a New England IPA, but the thick, hazy citrus flavor overwhelmed my taste buds much in the way that over-the-top orange juicy New Englands do. Fans of that style may love this one.
Nebraska: it’s not for everyone. Don’t look sideways at me like that; those words come straight from the state’s own tourism bureau.
For brewery hoppers, though, there are worse places than Lincoln — plenty of them, in fact — to find yourself on a brisk December day, eyes peeled for somewhere to wet your whistle for an hour or two during a break in your schedule.
If Zipline or Boiler is nearby, you can’t go wrong.
Photos courtesy of yours truly and www.facebook.com/pg/ZiplineBeerHall.