Chug a Love:
Breweries Plus Food
Article and photos by Kathleen Walls
In Ireland, the savvy traveler knows
the best places to eat are the pubs. Here in America' our
own version of the pub is emerging. Local breweries which
have become popular for their own special designer beers
often combine the drafts with the dinner. Here are some I
have visited and loved.
|The entrance of Cannon Brew
sets the tone
Cannon Brew Pub
When I first visited the Cannon Brew
Pub it still had an aura of newness about it. It had not yet
reached its second year of business. I had come to cover the
opening of Columbus's new Civil War Naval Museum. Driving up
from Florida, I came down with the flu. Had I been a
sensible average person, I would have turned around and gone
home and went to bed. Well, I'm a travel writer, enough
said. Naturally I continued on and covered the story.
Afterwards, my hosts, Shelby and
Becky. from the CVB invited me to enjoy
a pizza at the Cannon Brew Pub. I was feeling pretty bad but
agreed. They suggested one of the handcrafted beers that
might make me feel better but I am not a beer drinker.
Instead I choose a creamy frozen concoction which disguised
the alcohol taste and gave the impression of a chocolate
shake. It made my throat feel so much better so I had
another and I think another. Things were kind of foggy
there. The flu of course.
What I do remember with crystal clarity was the fun
atmosphere and the great pizza. The twenty foot vats that
form the central
feature of the Brewpub are not easily forgotten. They
dominate the rear of
the building, soaring from below floor level to the ceiling.
Directly in front of them is the
where patrons can watch their favorite beer being brewed.
|Thise tanks are huge
The menu is all over the board, not
just pizza and calzone. You can choose almost anything from
fried pickles to wild Alaska salmon, steak to burgers.
The Cannon Brewpub is the brainchild
of two men; Jim Newman and William Gantt. Columbus had not
had a brewery since long before prohibition. It was a
welcome addition to Columbus's food and drink scene.
Since then, the brewpub had been remolded but they
kept to their original purpose. Jim Newman summed it up
when he said, "The Cannon Brewpub is going to be a
local brewery, done by local people for the local residents.
All our beers are going to reflect Columbus."
|Brewers Pizza is mighty
Brewer's Pizza and
Pinglehead Brewery, Orange Park, FL
Brewer’s Pizza is a family-friendly
treasure, tucked away just off I-10 in Orange Park.
They are the only
brew pub in Clay County, Florida.
Food shares equal billing with the
brew here. Their specialty is the Florida Smacker, a unique
beer batter dough, 8-inch
square, deep-dish pizza . It's delicious and quite filling.
The inside is light and airy while the crust is browned and
crispy. They offer every normal topping and a few
that are off the board like gyro meat, meatball, chicken,
ricotta, Romano, feta and cheddar. Guido Spoonpipe’s wings
are another great choice. They are available in plain, BBQ,
sweet BBQ, mild and hot and
are baked in their pizza convection oven, instead of
fried. You will find lots of other food choices
ranging from soups to burgers.
The two managers, Troy Maas and Steve
Halford work to make the brewery and the pizzeria mesh
seamlessly. They opened in 2010
as just a pizza restaurant and quickly expanded to include
Aaron the brewer, takes pride in his work and turns out some
unique beers. They have produced as many as 26
different choices but lately have cut back to around a dozen
to be able to meet exterior demand. Their brews are sold
throughout almost all of Florida. The quality is proven by
the awards racked up in such a relatively short time They
won gold medals for Mind Drive Imperial Porter, Dreamcatcher Imperial
IPA and Black Hops India Black Ale and silver for their
Pinglehead Red and Xibalba India Black Ale at the Best
Florida Beer Championship in Tampa.
You will find a lot
of fruit flavored brews here but Imperial Red is their
|Aaron is justly proud of
is a thing of beauty as well as utility. It is filled
with mostly old time rock and roll and your choices are
free. Whether you are looking for a place to hang out with
friends or a lunch change from the fast food routine,
Brewer's Pizza and Pinglehead Brewery is a number one
|Big River's outdoor tables
Big River Grille & Brewing Works –Chattanooga, TN
Beer lover or not, you won’t want to
miss the Big River Brewing Company. Here the food and drink
is on a very macho level and filling. Go hungry. You will
leave full and happy. Their original location in
Chattanooga, Tennessee is located in an antique trolley barn
near Ross's Landing on the Tennessee River. It is the
heritage of that river and the steamboats
that plied its waters in the 19th century that Big
River strives to capture. The steamboats brought the
freshest foods and ingredients
into Chattanooga from all over. River City honors
that tradition today by using only the freshest ingredients
in their dishes.
Their pride and joy are the award
winning brews made on site. Their brews have won numerous
a gold medal for Sweet Magnolia, 1998; Iron Horse
Stout, 2002; and silver and bronze for several of their
If you don’t drink alcoholic beverages you can try their
homemade ginger ale, root beer or cream soda. They are way
out ahead of the factory-made products.
|Nothing like a game of
with a cold one
They’re equally proud of their
innovative menu. It is huge and contains many unusual items.
For starters you might try the Jalapeno Spinach Cheese Dip.
Follow that with a Thai Chicken Pizza, or, if you’re really
hungry, The Low Country Shrimp ‘n Grits. The Chocolate
Raspberry Passion is guaranteed to finish your meal in a
grand manner. In order to take advantage of what is freshest
at that time, the menu changes often.
Grafton Winery and
Brewhaus, Grafton, IL
|If you think this view is
good you should
see it looking out from those
This place combines it all when it
comes to dining pleasure. Wine connoisseurs will be
extremely happy with the award winning vintages created in
the winery like their award winning Summer Peach or Apple
Crisp wines. Beer drinkers get hand crafted brews made
onsite. You can ask for a tour of the brewery or sit back
and enjoy the view of the Great
Rivers Scenic Byway at the confluence of the Mississippi and
Illinois rivers while you dine on special dishes, many of
which Head Chef Chris Leith prepares by incorporating their
wines and beers into them. For example, the
chicken salad has
the chardonnay and the bbq sauce uses the bock dark beer.
Next year they plan on doing special dinners every month
with wine and beer pairings.
Their glass walls facing the Mighty Mississippi offer eagle
viewing in winter, fall foliage and spectacular sunsets on
and Lori Nikonovich,
and their son Mike, Jr.
are very proud of the winery and brewhouse.
It's the only licensed Illinois Micro Brewery in the greater
St. Louis Metropolitan Area.
|Lots of good choices at the
If the food and
drink aren't enough–and they are a big draw--you will find
top-drawer entertainment here. Local bands perform every
weekend and murder mystery dinner theater is a fairly
Various other parties and events make this a top destination
as well as a fine eatery. The brewery is open Friday through
Sunday and the restaurant and winery is open seven day a
If you have a yen to make your own home brew,
get a kit. Beer Making Kits - A Great Gift America's #1 home
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here are some recipies for great beer
Year of Beer: Seasonal Homebrew Recipes
For more info: