Craft Beer Review: Urban Legend's beers and taproom

Craft Beer Review: Urban Legend's beers and taproom
A flight of four at the Urban Legend tap room.

Sunday was one of those rare occasions when I actually get out to visit an establishment and try some new beers. So I'm writing it up as soon as I can.

Urban Legend Brewing Co. is a recently opened production brewery at 1115 Zygmunt Circle in the western suburb of Westmont (take that one to the Department of Redundancy Department). They opened in 2012 in a small industrial park, just like Three Floyds, Solemn Oath, O'Fallon, and so many more. They later added a tap room that's usually open Thursday through Sunday, long as there are enough people there to watch the till and keep brewing.

Urban Legend Brewing Company of Westmont

Urban Legend Brewing Company of Westmont

A brewery tap room is pretty straightforward: a bar, maybe a few tables, usually overlooking the brew works. No food served—that would make it a restaurant—but nowadays they'll schedule a visit from the many food trucks now popping up in the area. I was there during the Pats-Broncos championship game, and the only way to keep up was on your smartphone or a brought-along laptop. The main feature here is the beer. Urban Legend has six taps, with drafts in small 8-oz glasses for $3.50 and up, and growler fills starting at $22. My option was a flight of four taster-sized beers for $9. While I was trying these sample, brewer Tim Hoerman brought out a few other samples for me and the other guests: a Citra hopped stout that was nearly finished and carried a big nose of smoky peat before its hop note took over; and a Nelson Sauvin hopped cream ale still in the secondary, meaning it was uncarbonated and still had DMS that would be aged out before packaging.

Mother-In-Law (35 IBU, 3.9% alcohol by volume, the foremost sample in the above picture). Starting from the lightest-alcohol beer to the heaviest. This one is listed as a Simcoe-hopped Ordinary Bitter, which would be your basis English session ale, but for the mouthload of hops. Beer has a light brown color and a thin head suggesting a cask pour, but more likely from lower carbonation pressure. Bitterness is "bright," with some pine and a bit of cherry, playing against a fruity ale ester. The light malt profile doesn't stand a chance. All the beers here were prominent in hops, but part of that can be from their being poured fresh 15 feet from where they were made.

Fauquier County (48 IBU, 5.4% abv) "aka Adam S. aka The Forehead Crunch" A Belgian-American Pale ale with Citra, Simcoe and Amarillo hops. I've always had a thing with Amarillos, ever since I first encountered them in my first Gumballhead: it taste like a cat box. Don't ask how I know. Hoerman said he's always thought that the Citra had that character, but at least I know it's not me. Research online says tasters should refer to the smell as "durian," after the stinky fruit. It's my job instead to convince people my description means it's a good thing.. What's get me on this topic is a beer with a hazy orange Pale Ale color and a thin head. My impression is that the, um "durian," but a trail this strong will dwindle as the beer ages a little. A slightly creamy malt taste helps mitigate the sensation slightly, leaving a more lemony citrus punch at the end.

Big Dummy Big "Redd" Ale (66 IBU, 8.8% abv). You'll notice references to TV characters in some of these names, helped out at the tap room by head shots of the actors in those characters next to the chalkboard. This is an Imperial Red Ale, which reminded me favorably of Oskar Blues' G'Knight. Reddish beer under some very leggy foam. The smell starts out with warming alcohol and doesn't let up much. Taste is big and sticky with toast red ale malts, and again, plenty of fresh hops this close to the nest. Most intoxicating sample on my tray so far.

Otis Campbell (95 IBU, 9.5% abv) Hmm. Does naming a beer after a fictional alcoholic make it okay? Just asking. But anyway, this is listed as a double IPA hopped with Moteuka, a New Zealand varietal that actually replaces Saaz in some Pilseners. This has a cloudy brown color. A thin ring of foam left around the edge after I've the other three beers in my sampler. Hops are not as powerful as in the other beers, maybe because they are meant more for balance. but this made the beer a nice palate cleanser after the stronger and hoppier beers that preceded it.

I was not there at the right season for their Krispy Karl, an Imperial Russian Stout that, if successful, may no doubt inspire the same kind of crowds seen for Dark Lord or Big Hugs. It may just take one year or two to see if it can build the kind of reputation as other big beer releases.

I did have their Mugshot 12.20.71 porter on tap at the nearby Tap House Grill Westmont, back in October, so here's my assessment: Opaque brown, with a thin brown layer of foam. Heady smell with definite alcohol. Taste has big coffee and cocoa notes. A bit of sour cherry around the edges. Keeps a nice hop bite throughout the glass, and there’s a bit of roast malt that grows on me as well.

Urban Legend's tap room proved to be a congenial place, even in its industrial park setting. I had visited at a time when the brew room was chugging along, and the other patrons were just as interested in trying out some new beers.

Disclaimer: I bought and paid for all the beers reviewed here. My taking tasting notes couldn't help but draw the attention of the staff, so we also had an informative chat about the business.

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    Mark McDermott

    Writer, trivia maven, fan of many things. I thought to learn all there is to know about beer as a way to stay interested in learning. It is my pleasure to bring Chicago's craft beer scene to you.

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