Taps: 68 / Bottles: 350
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 252 | Reviews: 177 | Display Reviews Only:
4.44/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
So...it's been a long time since I've been to Hopleaf. It used to be a place I frequented regularly about 5-10 years in the past, and I wanted to get back there to see what's been happening in the last few years. I went there this past weekend (5/5/06), and had a pleasant and relaxing experience, despite the near-capacity crowd. Just me, a copy of the Chicago Reader, and about 70 people jammed into this great beer bar on the far northside of the city.
I got to the bar about 9:30pm, and had to show my ID to the doorman (doorman? They'd never had one in the past). Anyway, he was nice enough, and I was lucky enough to find a seat at the bar - right under the glorious beer chalkboards - and settled in for a couple of hours.
This place gets a lot of flak from fellow BAs about their service (meaning: rude), but I didn't find this at all when I was there. In fact, Megan, one of the barkeeps, took care of me rather well, and did so with a busy smile (it was, after all, a bustling Friday night).
The HopLeaf always has an array of great beers on tap, and a plethora of fine brews in the bottle, but I usually opt for draughts first. The first beer of the night for me was a new one: Chambly Noire.
The Noir poured nicely off draught, was nearly opaque with a brownish head, and had a seductive smell to it. In fact, it was just OK. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of complexity to this beer, but it was a decent one to try.
I moved on from that to a bottle of De Dulle Teve Reserve. I've had the regular DDT before, but the Reserve did seem to have a little 'something extra'. Yep, this is a world-class beer and the Mad Bitch was fun to drink. A fairly golden cloudy brew with a Garden of Eden-like quality to the nose and palette, this was a beer to be respected and adored. And it was pretty strong. Like all things worthy of praise, you don't rush through it.
For my final beer of the night, I opted back to the draughts for a special selection indeed: Rodenbach Red. Yep, it's been years since I had one of these, and what a good choice to end the night. As a matter of fact, when I put in the order, Megan told me that they were "changing the keg". I guess just hearing that phrase warms me in anticipation. And I wasn't disappointed.
The spicy and sour bite to the beer, tempered by the conditioning in wood barrels, was such a delight. And, I believe this beer is relatively light on alcohol, so it was a nice come down from the strength of De Dulle Teve.
Yep, it was a nice night to get back to a long-lost friend, the HopLeaf. I'll be getting back there a bit more frequently if I can. And give the folks who run the bar a break: they're working hard to serve some of the best beers in the known universe to you. I think they're fantastic.
05-08-2006 19:39:45 | More by RedBaron
4.83/5 rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I don't think words can adequately convey how much I love the Hopleaf. From the cozy, old-school bar feel to the beautiful line of exquisite taps to the oh-so-tasty mussles, it is just a place of wonder. They always have six Belgiums on tap with another host of American craft brews - Bell's, Dogfish head, Goose Island (typically one of their reserves such as Matilda), Jolly Pumpkin, Three Floyds, Sprecher, Allagash, etc., etc., etc. - on hand. The beers are rotated seasonally.The bottle list is long, filled with Belgiums, American Belgium-style beers and many, many others.
Then comes the food. If only all beer bars had such good foods. The mussles, steamed in seasonal brews, such as Oberon in the summer, are sweet and succulent. They make exceptional frittes. They just need to take the next step and begin pairing beers with foods on the menus, helping educate those that are not as tuned into the complexities of beers.
If you are in Chicago, and have a chance to stop by, I would highly recommend stepping in between 3 and 6 in the afternoon. It is at this slow time that the Hopleaf is essentially a laid back coffee house with beer. They only drawback to this plan is that food does not kick in until 5:00.
You owe it to your beer-loving self to stop by.
04-27-2006 18:49:32 | More by schenked
4.64/5 rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Hit this place just after it opened at 3 on a Monday. Two tables had people at them and a couple at the bar. Beertender waited patiently while I make a selection. About as many taps as I've seen in one place since the Gingerman in Houston.
This place didn't quite have the atmosphere of the Map Room. Larger windows let in a lot of light. I felt the selection was as good, if not better. Lots of Belgians available and the women in the bar were doing just that.
Didn't venture to the back rooms and the main bar itself was small looking. If I could have stayed longer to see the after work crowd, I would have. As it was, I was happy enough that it will be a regular stop when I'm in Chicago.
Picked up some glassware on the way out. Will definitely go again.
04-05-2006 21:21:51 | More by kdog630
4.78/5 rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, Hop Leaf gives you one of the two best beer selections in Chicago. The other being Map Room.
You walk into a comfortable room with the bar being on your left. Booths on your right. Tables in the middle. Continue on through the bar and you'll find the walkway to the dining room, located in the rear. upstairs you will find an extra room with balcony for busy nights and private parties. There is a mini-bar for a small,
convenient, quality selection of beers. Music is always quality and somewhat chill.
The food is outstanding and I believe fairly priced for the quality. Service will always be good. But sometimes it is obvious that the staff is overwhelmed. They try their best but the place simply gets mobbed. It may be hard for their rather small kitchen to keep up.
Bar service is always solid. Even when they are slammed they hold their own. Considering what is available to the Chicago market, I couldn't ask for anything more from their beer selection.
It should be illegal for a serious fan of beer to miss the place.
04-02-2006 17:06:40 | More by TheLoneGunman
4.19/5 rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Located on the far north side of the city, but not bad to get to from the Loop. I've had luck with parking on both trips.
Very crowded when I visited - both times on Saturday night. First off - the belgian selections on tap are fantastic. Some were hard to find like a a nice strong christmas beer from Dupont. Tasty! I could have spent hours on the belgian drafts.
We stuck to draft - many regionals - 3 Floyds, Bells, Summit, Goose Island etc. Sierra, Victory other regions represented too. All drafts were perfect quality - outstanding flavor and perfect carbonation. No off flavors, which many of the big Chicago Beer Bars have problems with.
Huge bottle list.
Service: Efficient, but not particularly welcoming or friendly. I did find one bartender who offered a taste when we trying to decide on belgians - usually a common courtesy.
Dining room in back is nicely appointed. Didn't get to try the food. Worth seeking out for high quality draft beers
01-12-2006 04:45:11 | More by sweethome
4.7/5 rDev +5.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
I've been here twice, once when dead and once when busy. Obviously much more relaxing when dead.
Cool little place with two floors of delicious Belgian heaven. An eclectic mix of young hipsters and midaged beer folks.
Mind boggling selection of Belgian beers, the tap selection alone makes this one of the best beer bars I've been to. Every beer I've had here has been dead on, clean lines and high turnover = delicious beer.
The food was also great, somewhat limited menu, but all very good choices for the beer selection. Just be sure to show up early if you want to eat, as the place gets awfully busy.
It's pretty expensive to come drink here, but consider what you're getting.
12-05-2005 20:41:48 | More by nortmand
4.65/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Dining with two companions, this was my first time visiting the Hopleaf. I was pleased to have two or three very fresh beers along with dinner. Everything was kept up to date and clean, which seems like it should be obvious -- but places like this make you realize that not every establishment does it right. The waitress we had seemed knowledgeable enough about the beers, and the simple, dark, brick-and-beer decor works for the place. I think I made a mistake in my sandwich selection, lured in by a romanticized description. But word has it, I missed out on a few other, more excellent options. Still, one of two must-visits in Chicago.
11-16-2005 03:37:26 | More by marburg
4.4/5 rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$$
My first visit to The Hopleaf was on my honeymoon back in May of '05. My new wife and I walked in about 3pm in the afternoon and there were maybe 3-4 random people at the bar. We parked on Clark, right across the street. I was suprised it was so empty, although it did seem a bit "out of the way." Other that that, it was a quaint place and nicely decorated overall. We didn't venture into the new back restaurant area.
We sat at a booth in the front area initially and started perusing the beer list at the table. We decided to start off with a couple selections from the tap instead. There was no server to be found, so I meandered up to the bar and ordered. The bartender was pleasant enough initially, but seemed rather uninterested in chatting although I expressed my passion for beer and my happiness at seeing so many of my sought after brews. Oh well. My wife likes the german Hefe's, so I suggested she start with a Konig Ludwig (if memory serves ...) and I had my first Delerium Tremens. No messing around ... with that many Belgium beers to be had, I was not going to waste any time working up to them.
Our initial impression was that this place had a cool atmosphere and a superlative beer menu. I saw Belgiums on the wall that I had only read about heretofore. We were enjoying ourselves, overall, but we weren't feeling it at the booth. In addition, we discovered that food was not served until 5pm. Hmmm ...two hours too early!We were hungry, but no big deal with the abundant liquid bread we were enjoying! We resolved to wait it out until 5 to order.
After finishing our first round, we decided to move up to the bar to be closer to the action, if indeed there was any action to be had. Seems to me, I ordered a Rochefort 8 in the bottle when we sat down. We had maybe 2-3 other beers from the selection of bottles and enjoyed them all. I just enjoyed looking down at the glass-front coolers behind the bar and seeing those exotic labels ... it was all a little bit of sensory overload for me, to be honest!
Before we knew it, it was 5pm and the bartender was more than happy to give us a food menu from which we could make our selections. We had the Mussels for two, followed by the roast duck, at the bar.
Wow, I was already impressed with the beer selection. The food didn't disappoint in the least either! The mussels were excellent and there were a lot of them. We almost didn't have room for the duck when it came out ... almost. After a good two hours of drinking high gravity ales, I was definitely ready for some solid food to soak up the alcohol. I couldn't have been more happy with the offerings.
I have to confess, I was suprised to read in the other reviews about The Hopleaf being so over-crowded and smokey. This couldn't have been further from the case when we were there. We almost had the place to ourselves, it seemed, and I don't recall any smoke. I guess it was our dumb luck, though. We got there early and we never saw a crowd ... and this was post-Cubs game at Wrigley no less!
We're going back to Chicago in a week or so for business, and The Hopleaf is our one "can't miss" stop in our short visit. If you like great beer, and that in more choices than you can possible handle at a sitting, you really shouldn't miss The Hopleaf. Pair that with great Belgium food and you have a special combination. This place is great for all beer lovers, but if you're a Belgium fanatic like I am, then you simply must visit and plan to stay a while ... you'll be busy! If you squint your eyes, and grasp your goblet just right, you might think you were in the holy land of beer for a second ... ...
10-12-2005 17:01:36 | More by beerphilosopher
4.43/5 rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Stopped here while in Chicago on business in August 2005. The beer selection is extremely wide, and they have an incredible number of Belgians (in bottle and many on tap).
The main thing I appreciated was that each beer I ordered (and the orders of my neighbors) was served in the appropriate glassware from the actual brewery. I started with a Westvleteren 12, served in a Westvleteren chalice. This was my first one after months of searching, so Hopleaf is an important landmark for me... My second beer was Tripel Karmeliet. It was served in the brewery chalice, and was floral and strong.
The service was pretty good, but nothing outstanding really. No one was rude, there just wasn't very much attention...
I'll be coming back next time I'm in Chicago. But I do want to try the MapRoom also.
08-27-2005 14:06:01 | More by TurdFurgison
4.4/5 rDev -0.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
My brothers and I just spent a great weekend in Chicago and the Hopleaf was one of the reasons why. We drank beers for a few hours after a Cubs game and had an excellent time.
I'd become a regular of the Hopleaf if I lived in Chicago. I have to say, I really dig their logo hanging on the sign above the door. It pretty much has the look of a quality drinking establishment. The atmosphere was perfect for drinking with friends and talking crazy talk. The focus of the place was on drinking at the bar or at a table... nothing zanny hanging from the walls; just a solid reputation based on a good beer selection. We sat at the bar where we had a selection of about 25 beers on tap and over 50 bottled beers. I'm not sure how often they rotate the taps, but I think I could have a fun time trying all they have to offer.
We had good service at the bar. We were there in the early evening and I could see it getting really busy and tough to get a beer as the night rolls on. The bartender knew all the beers by heart and was happy to serve up some samplers for us to try before ordering a pint. The bartender was quick with our orders but wasn't interested in striking up a conversation, which personally I don't mind because I'd prefer to enjoy the company of my friends.
07-30-2005 15:00:42 | More by winpig3
Hopleaf in Chicago, IL
98 out of 100 based on 252 ratings.