Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Upstream Brewing (Omaha, NE)

Main bar at Upstream with Flagship IPA

The last time I was in downtown Omaha, Randy Madsen and I were coming back from Dan Gable's Tiger wrestling camp at the University of Iowa. In 8th or 9th grade, our bus from Iowa City had broken down in Des Moines because the AC was out. As a result, we missed our connection home in Omaha to home and spent the night together at the Omaha bus station. One of use would stay awake to watch our stuff while the other slept. In the course of the evening, we played cards with a guy who was rolling a joint and each were propositioned by several hookers. All in all, a good learning experience.

Staying at the downtown Econolodge and walking to Upstream Brewing reminded me of my last trip. Still seems like a tough neighborhood (remember, I lived in LA below south central), but the rough wrinkles smooth by the time I got to the refurbished downtown area with a lot of bars and restaurants. My guess is that most folks drive and park nearby, and don't see much of the surrounding area. Classic refurbished downtown area for any large city.

Inside, Upstream Brewing is expansive with a beautiful brewhouse behind glass. Large bar and a ton of beers, but it's been a hot day and I'm not up for tasting all of the brews on tap. I order water and a menu to start, and get to having a Flagship IPA and fish and chips for dinner. Flagship is a marmalade colored, solid west coast IPA that reminds me a bit of Masala Mama from Town Hall, especially the color. Clean and fresh, it blends well with the good beer battered fish and mediocre chips.

For a second beer, the Saison was off for the Brewer's Whim, so I tried the 1936 Strong ESB for a lighter beer. Off white head dissipates quickly on top of a muddled amber ale. English hops on a caramel, malt and mineral base. Hearty ESB that one could sip for an evening.

Upstream is a perfectly good brewpub, but feels more like a tourist trap than a real local like Nebraska Brewing early today. Nothing wrong, per se, but not much to really attach to as a pub for me. If I find myself in downtown Omaha ever again, I would gladly stop for lunch but I wouldn't go too far out of the way.

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