Chicago (Near West Side), Illinois:
All Rise Brewing at the Cobra Lounge
Visited on: Wednesday 20th June 2018
As Linda and I approached this pub we could see from the faded advertisements that it had been a bar / restaurant in its previous life. The sign painted on the wall states “G & Z Restaurant and Bar. Breakfast. Lunch. Carry Outs. Package Goods. Kitchen Hrs 05.00 am - 2.30 pm.” We do know that the Cobra Lounge opened its doors in 2006 and that is almost certainly when the G & Z Restaurant and Bar closed.
The Cobra Lounge built itself up one of the, if not the best live Rock & Roll venue in the city. So after nine years of getting a name for its music, they decided to do the same with beer.
At the back of the building they demolished an old fire escape and a couple of small outbuildings. The existing car park was completely dug up and foundations for the new brewery were laid.
The new brewery’s building was of concrete and, on the roof we find a tank of the kind so synonymous with the skylines of American cities. This one is stainless steel and also acts as an advertisement for the brewery. It’s a good job that the Cobra Lounge keeps normal pub hours as it wasn’t even midday when we turned up. Like so many US bars this one was very dark inside whilst we waited for our eyes to adjust.
One can only guess the layout prior to 2006 but it seems to be divided into two main rooms.
After entering the main door we were in a room with a bar counter on the left. There were a few high chairs in front of it and a large colourful illuminated sign displaying the beer list behind. On the facing wall there was a motorcycle above a row of booths with stuffed leather seating. The symbolic motorbike is significant, see below.
Once we settled into one of the booth seats I went for a walk into the room at the rear. Where we had settled had a distinctive dive bar atmosphere.
In contrast the light flooded through large windows in the rear room. The building had been joined on to the brewery and it was visible from the inside through glass.
Glass doors lead out to a patio-terrace which looks like it would be a sun trap in good weather.
The one feature of this room that stands out is the magnificent bar counter which must have been a part of the original bar / restaurant. It is made of highly varnished wood and is very much the centrepiece of the room.
The back-bar is equally impressive and has bright red columns which I presume to be shutters folded back. These would protect the spirits on the shelves behind.
All Rise Brewing are heavily involved in several events occurring in the city, the biggest of which is Riot Fest.
This is a massive music festival in early June celebrating Rock, Indie and Hip Hop that has grown since its inception in 2004.
These days it has spread to other cities. All Rise made its début with its first beers during the 2014 festival and is synonymous with it.
At the end of June there is another gathering that it is associated with and that’s Motoblot which is three days of riding vintage motorbikes around this Chicago West Side neighbourhood. All Rise Brewing is one of the sponsors, as is Triumph Motorcycles. Now there’s a blast from the past!
There are normally a range of twelve beers on offer at any one time and when we visited these were as follows: Wonder Beer (5.2%), an American Pale Ale; Feder Mond (5.3%), a Kölsch; Hopp Squad (10.6%), a double IPA.
Exploding Sky (5.6%), an E.S.B.; Backlash Jack (5.7%), an English brown ale; Golden Ale (5.1%) and Reverend Bob’s Über (6.9%), an IPA. Three Orange Wit (7.2%) a Belgian wheat beer flavoured with orange and Black Cross (8.8%), an Imperial stout.
The selection continues with Schön Gemacht (5.5%), German wheat beer; Keogh’s Tipperary Red (5.0%), an Irish red ale; Motorbrau Original (5.5%), a Bohemian Pilsner; Dizzy Blonde Ale (5.2%) and Rosemary’s Baby (6.5%), a rye pale ale.
We had a selection of the beers on offer and this is what we thought of them: Dizzy Blonde Ale was as expected, light colour, medium bitterness with a medium after taste.
Backlash Jack English Brown Ale was the real thing with a genuine brown ale taste minor bitterness in the body and a bit more in the finish.
Reverend Bob’s Über IPA was very bitter with 60 IBU. It had a woody taste and a peppery finish. Rosemary’s Baby was supposed to be a rye pale ale. We did not detect the rye. It had a soft to medium bitterness throughout.
This pub boasts a full menu and is a must if you like good music with your beer. Or just go for a beer!
All Rise Brewing Company at the Cobra Lounge, 235 North Ashland Ave, Chicago 60607. Tel: 312 226 6300
Hours: Monday-Friday 11.00-02.00; Saturday 17.00-03.00; Sunday Closed (unless music is scheduled).
Getting to the Cobra Lounge is easy. From the Loop catch the Pink or the Green Line to Ashland station.
Descend from the elevated platforms to street level. Turn north on Ashland Avenue. Walk one block.
You are now on the corner of West Fulton Market Street and should be standing outside the pub.