Left Hand Brewing Turns 20!

December 3, 2013

20th Anniversary Beer Selections
Two weeks ago I was invited to celebrate Left Hand Brewing Company's 20th birthday with a few other local bloggers. The event was held at Streeterville's Jake Melnick's Corner Tap and featured a tap takeover of 20 of Left Hand's beers. Jake Melnick's featured "20 beers for 20 years" from the Colorado-based brewery. The 20 varieties of beers included five retired beers, the only Chicago appearance of the seasonal Fade to Black Series (Vols. 1-4) and several perennials and limited-edition varieties. To make the night even more special, Left Hand's co-founder Eric Wallace was on-hand (pun intended) to answer questions and talk about some of the beers.

Left Hand Brewing's Co-Founder, Eric Wallace
Sampling the Fade to Black Series
I was able to sample beers and bites and was super excited to check out the menu at Jake Melnick's! I had never eaten there before but I knew they were famous for their wings. Wings aren't a typical fixture in my diet, so I happily ordered them. Luckily, they offer a combination option featuring their traditional Buffalo wings and the Poncho's variety which are wood grilled and topped with a garlic and cayenne marinade.After trying both varieties, I immediately understood why they are so popular. The Poncho's wings were by far my favorite of the two.

If you're a fan of spicy foods, especially spicy Buffalo wings, then Jake Melnick's is your place. They have recently added the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper to its award-winning wing sauce on its XXX Wings. This is no ordinary pepper, it's apparently the hottest pepper on Earth as it's nearly 300 times hotter than a jalapeno! If you're feeling up for the challenge, you'll have to sign a waiver first. However, Jake's will provide several cooling agents including ice cream, bread, sour cream and milk. Yum. Finish the whole order of XXX wings and your name gets posted on Jake's "Wall of Flame". Worth it?

Traditional & Poncho's Wings
While were taste testing all of those Left Hand beers, we needed some more food to wash it all down. I tried the mini burger sliders which were anything but mini. These are best shared with others, as is most of the food on Jake's menu. I loved the quality of the beef--super flavorful and nicely ground.

Mini Burger Sliders (not so mini!)
One of the other bloggers ordered a side of mac 'n cheese that looked absolutely delightful. I didn't try it (I'm a lactard, though that doesn't usually stop me from eating cheese, obvi) but it looked heavenly.

Mac 'N Cheese
Jake Melnick's also is known for its famous barbecue and sauce. I ordered a half slab of their baby back ribs which are slow-smoked and slathered in that delicious sauce. These weren't the best ribs I've had, (for the best ribs of your life go to L. Woods) and I probably wouldn't order them again there, but they were still ribs, I mean, come on.

Baby Back Ribs
We were still feeling hungry (HA) so we ordered a side of Jake's skillet corn bread. This massive bread arrived topped with a heaping scoop of melted butter. I hate when corn bread is dry in the middle, so you better believe I was happy with this version. The bread was sweet and soft and perfect with the barbecued ribs.

Skillet Corn Bread
Last, but not least, we were told to try the jumbo smoked hot links made from local Makowski sausages which are slow-smoked and topped with Jake's barbecue sauce. These hot links were supposed to be HOT, but I didn't feel any heat. Maybe I should sign up for the XXX Wing challenge...

Jumbo Smoked Hot Links
Overall, It was a fun night trying Left Hand Beers and more food than you could imagine off Jake Melnick's menu!

Left Hand Brewing

Jake Melnick's
41 E Superior St
Chicago, IL 60611
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap on Urbanspoon

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