Few things go with beer more than sports, wings, and burgers.
Taphouse Grill brings all of those together with a focus on craft beer. Seven locations exist throughout Chicago's burbs. I chose to visit the Westmont location at 6010 S Cass Ave.
Akin to a brewery's taproom, a large multi-colored chalkboard adorns a wall behind the bar and lists the current rotation of beers on tap. The gastropub's appearance is a cross between an Applebees and a Tilted Kilt (minus the scantily clad waitresses); it's a little bit of sports bar and a little bit of casual restaurant. A large rectangular bar dominates the center of the restaurant along with two large sections of beer tappers. Couple that with computer printouts of their current beer selection on every table and it is impossible to miss that you are in a place that caters to craft brew lovers. However, they also offer an array of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, so you don't have to love craft beer to enjoy TapHouse Grill.
Flat screens hang over the bar and line each wall, including in the seating areas located away from the bar area. A fireplace, couches, booths, and large patio area all serve to make the place feel welcoming and comfortable.
Taphouse occasional hosts live music and offers a ladies' night on Thursday, but at its heart, this is a gastropub that caters to craft brew drinkers and sports fans. How do I know this? Well, You can tell a lot about a bar from the signs in the bathroom.
I'm not kidding.
Think about it, it is the one place in the bar - notably the men's room where men stand facing a wall - where people are almost guaranteed to read the posters. When a bar wants to advertise upcoming special events, the bathroom is the place to capture patrons' attention.
I arrived at TapHouse Grill on an early Thursday afternoon with a decent lunch crowd remaining. Alternating TVs displayed the afternoon Sox game and PGA tournament while casual rock music played in the background, ranging from Eagles to Green Day.
As Jeff Samardzija dominated the Toronto Blue Jays' powerful offense with a complete game shutout, I enjoyed some wings - outstanding, a stout burger, tater tots, and finally a brownie sundae. Everything was excellent except the burger that swam in a sea of sauce. However, two people near me raved about their burgers so I think I just got a bad one. The wings, tots, and dessert did not fail. In fact, they were delicious.
Of course, I also had three beers.
Boston Brewing: Sam Adams Rebel IPA (a substitute for the Two Brothers Wobble IPA that was on special because they were out). Rebel IPA has been reviewed a zillion times by craft brew geeks. I am one that that really likes the beer. It's well balanced with East Coast style hops and a fruity aroma. It doesn't overpower you with bitter hops, but never fails to remind you that it is an IPA. It proved to be the perfect accompaniment to my spicy hot wings - bold, yet refreshing.
Naperville's Solemn Oath Brewery: Pain Cave Double IPA. I liked it, but I didn't love it. The bitterness emanating from the hops is sublime. You will know it is a hoppy beer by the time you get the glass six inches from your nose. The hops bully you into submission. I am a "hop head," so I enjoy powerful hops, but the rest of the flavors in Pain Cave are hidden. A little more balance would make this beer fantastic. Regardless, It's still a good beer and worth drinking, notably if you are a hop head like me.
Westmont's Urban Legend Brewery: The Creature Black IPA. Wow. All I can say is, "Wow." I have nothing bad to say about this beer. An incredible black IPA that combines roasted malts, citrus, and a steady dose of hops. The malt hits you first, and then the fruity hops emerges on the back end. The hops aren't exceptionally powerful so you could make the argument that it's more of a pale ale than an IPA, but that is really searching for something to criticize.
Overall, the place is a little pricey, but not exorbitant; my bill for three beers, ten wings, a large burger, and dessert came to $45. The servers were fun, the TV viewing is easy, the beer selection is on point - heavy with Chicago brews, and the food for the most part was quite enjoyable. The atmosphere, including the sizable patio, along with plenty of parking and easy access, makes TapHouse Grill a fine place to go watch sports, have quality beer, and enjoy some good gastropub fair.