Elk Grove's Mikerphone Brewing earns applause from beer lovers
How long would you wait in line to get into a bar? How about a beer-only bar located in a suburban industrial park? Well, after waiting about 40 minutes in a line that stretched to the street on a recent weeknight, we finally made it through the front door of Mikerphone Brewing's tasting room in Elk Grove Village. And a few sips in, we were glad we did.
Motif: Open only since March, Mikerphone Brewing already has the type of loyal fan following that major corporations take years to develop. When you walk into the tight surroundings, you instantly notice the theme is music -- from guitars and amplifiers on the wall to the microphone-styled pull tappers behind the bar. The Mikerphone website explains how head brewer, owner and the "Mike" of the operation, Mike Pallen, combined his passions for music and beer to create a rockin', craft brewin' experience in this unlikely setting.
The place follows a common model for upstart craft breweries with a tasting room up front and production facilities in the back. What you order is freshly brewed on site.
Liquid consumption: Fans waiting in line touted the draft menu, which changes daily. On this particular night, our music-themed beer title choices included the Weizen to Ill hefeweizen and the S'more Cowbell imperial stout with graham cracker, cocoa nibs, vanilla marshmallows and honey. The Blue Hast Mich, meanwhile, was described as a blueberry Berliner weisse.
After bellying up to the bar, and waiting in another line to order, I came away with our first-round choices -- the Mikerphone Check 1, 2, described as a dry hopped double IPA with Citra, and the Softly Spoken Lies double milk stout with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa. Both earned a double wow. And in this case, WOW stands for worth our wait.
Food: Mikerphone has no kitchen, but there are plenty of takeout menus spread around from nearby eateries that deliver. During our visit, several food delivery drivers brought in pizza orders to beer patrons.
Service: The staff mainly stays behind the bar and visitors line up to order drafts. There's no table service, other than someone coming by to collect empty glasses, but no one was complaining. If you don't feel like waiting to get in, there's a side door entrance for customers buying bottled beer to go.
Crowd: As we struck up conversations in line, we met Chicagoans who made a special trip to the burbs for Mikerphone. So, in addition to luring an after-work crowd and other suburban beer lovers, Mikerphone is drawing fans from much farther away.
There were plenty of hard-core craft brewery fans in the house on the night we visited, but that shouldn't intimidate anyone who's not as versed in local craft beer.
Music: Get ready to rock. Guitar-shredding tunes play on speakers overhead, but the music competes with the volume level of the crowd in a small space, so this is definitely not the place to bring a date for a quiet drink.
Parking: There are no parking lots in this industrial neighborhood, but there's ample street parking. If you're visiting for the first time at night, I'd recommend getting there with the help of in-car navigation or a cellphone app to make sure you don't get lost in the industrial park maze.
Overall: Mikerphone Brewing has outstanding beer. And once you get past the line, hanging out with a nice blend of craft brew afficionados and newcomers adds to the experience. So if you're looking for something different, you might want to put Mikerphone on your beer bucket list. Just wear comfortable shoes.
Mikerphone Brewing121 Garlisch Drive, Elk Grove Village, www.mikerphonebrewing.com
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday through Wednesday