With all the tasty delights in Chicago and high end gastronomic paradises popping up left and right, sometimes its nice to indulge in hearty pub fare. So for this week we decided to wander on over to Andersonville for the classic Belgian combo of beer, mussels, and fries. The Hopleaf has decidedly one of the largest beer menus in the city, and probably the most extensive Belgium beer menu outside of Belgium itself. With rare brews on tap, this place is always hopping and has extensive wait times, luckily bar seating with a full menu is available with a little patience. Using our heightened senses secondary to hunger and cat-like reflexes, we pounced on the first available seating at the bar within minutes and bellied up to what was on tap. I ordered Dupont Biere de Miel. Sweet and refreshing, this went perfect with my salty steamed mussels.
Brasserie Dupont Biere de Miele (Belgium)- ( 750ML $8.99/btl ) Damn Good
This is a Saison style (farmhouse style) Belgium ale that has a golden haziness and sweet finish with warm honey notes. This ale is definitely on the sweeter end of the spectrum of ales with some floral notes and fruitiness to it. The finish was very sweet and had a little bit of cherry, honey aspects to it. It went well with the saltiness of the mussels and fries. This beer conjures up images of a drunken pooh bear gorging on honey.
Sniff- honey, floral, yeast
Sip- sweet, complex, light, cherry, honey
Eat- salty bar food, seafood
Mussels In Belgian Beer
From the Hopleaf, “borrowed” from WTTW
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 6 Minutes
Yield: 4 Servings
This recipe is adapted from Michael Roper, owner of Hopleaf Bar in Andersonville. Serve these mussels with plenty of good bread for sopping up the cooking juices and wash them down with a cold, Belgian wheat ale, such as Witterkerke (which you can also use for cooking the mussels).
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
1 small rib celery, thinly sliced
2 pounds mussels, cleaned, debearded
1 bottle (12 ounces) Belgian wheat ale
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/8 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet; add shallots and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add mussels; add beer, thyme, bay leaf, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Cover. Cook until mussels are open, about 4-6 minutes, keeping pan moving frequently. Discard mussels that do not open. Serve in shallow bowls.