Saturday Night Blue Collar Brew Review – Flossmoor Station Gandy Dancer Honey Ale

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Gandy dancersFlossmoor Station logoI have been truly blessed; luck has come my way over this last week. Not only was there a three day weekend on tap, but last week, my buddy Nick from work, mentioned that he’ll be paying another visit to the Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery over last weekend and asked if I wanted a refill. Yowzah! I told him that I’d have an empty (saved from a previous visit) for him the next day.

But first, please allow me to explain a number of things:

Flossmoor StationFlossmoor Station is a restaurant obviously in Flossmoor, Illinois, about an hour’s drive east on I-80 from Morris. They run a successful business as a brewpub in an old converted train station building. In the forefront is the dining room with tall ceilings and dark wood trim. Old railroad related photographs are framed and hanging on the walls. It makes for a nice, quaint atmosphere. Dress is mostly street clothes, ball caps, cargo pants, blue jeans, etc. The food is awesome. Our entire family visited there in ’08 and had a great time. You may remember my review of their Killer Kowalski Baltic Porter from eons ago.

Adjacent is the brewery. One can see some of their very large kettles through windows but as far as I know, group tours are not provided. Still, it’s a great time going there.

Gandy Dancer growlerGetting back on track, what I requested Nick to get for me was a growler of Gandy Dancer Honey Ale and provided him with an empty FS growler jug. Growler is beer jargon for a half-gallon or 64 ounces of beer. It’s a small eared jug with a screw-on cap. That would equate to 5.33 beers at 12 oz. per beer. Not quite a sixpack, but enough for a review. (If using a 16oz. pub pint as I did, there’s only 4 glasses worth.)

The following Monday, I had a growler of Flossmoor’s Gandy Dancer Honey Ale. That in itself, brings up another question: what is a gandy dancer? From Wikipedia:

Gandy dancer is a slang term for workers who maintained railroads in North America. The term originates from the late nineteenth century. It is often said to derive from the Gandy Manufacturing Company, a Chicago-based tool manufacturing company, but several sources cite an absence of any record of this company’s existence. Hand crews used specialized hand tools known as gandies to lever rail tracks into position.

There’s the hook into the whole Flossmoor railroad station motif. I have a short but interesting video following this review about gandy dancers and their work on the railroad tracks in the South.

Saturday night brought quietude and delivery pizza in the evening. Afterwards, it was time to wash it all down with some good, locally brewed beer, only a week old.

I wrestled the half-gallon jug out of the fridge and brought it over to the desk for the first pour. I had to use two hands on the bottle, so the beer was poured into an untilted pint glass.

Gandy Dancer foamThe beer came up a nice orange in color and the liquid was a tad cloudy, but there were lots of large sized bubbles rising.  The head was a rather thick off-white color standing at about a half-inch. The aroma was slight and really not much to talk about.

The first sip held quite a bit of flavor. The beginning of the sip had a slight sweetness, the middle was nicely tinged with light maltiness and there was a bit of a hop kick at the end. Nice middle of the road beer with a unique taste.

As the sips went on, the malts and sweets laid back and the hops took over for a while.  The overall taste of this beverage was quite delicious and refreshing. Once again, the blend of the hops and the malts and the sweet made for a very unique taste experience. I’m sure that the honey addition to this brew is what gave it its unique flavor. As time went on, the tastes seem to alternate in the spotlight, each sip featured a different characteristic.

By the time I hit the bottom of the first glass, my mouth parts were in Nirvana. This beer seemed to have everything going for it. The honey sweet, the malty middle and the hop dropkick on the way down made for a most enjoyable taste experience. There just may be enough sweetness to please the ladies, enough malts to punctuate it as a beer and just enough hops to put some hair on your chest.

Gandy Dancer glassThis would be the perfect beer to reward yourself with if you’ve had a good day at work, your kid won the first game of the season or you’ve lost more than two pounds. No real celebrations needed, just a good feeling. Yeah, this is a feel-good beer. If you feel good, you’ll even feel better afterwards. Even if you’ve had a rotten day, this beer may just pull you out of your doldrums.

However, at 5.8% ABV, this should in no way be considered a lawnmower beer nor a session beer. It’s a beer that should be gulped down initially, then savored and nursed until it’s gone. The taste of this beer should be the definition of an American Pale Ale. Lightly hopped, pleasantly malted with the extra bonus of sweet at the beginning, it’s a drink that will make everyone who has no way of visiting the Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery envious as all getout.

If you’re ever in Illinois, south of Chicago, I urge to to make plans to have your evening meal at Flossmoor Station. The food is excellent blue collar cuisine and their beers are noteworthy. Try their beer sampler. Last time my family and I visited, we sampled 10 different beers. It was so hard to decide what to bring home. It will be time well spent.

Gandy Dancer logoThe SixPackTech ratings for Flossmoor Station Gandy Dancer Honey Ale are:

Taste: A- > A dessert with the skin still on.
Smoothness: A- > A freshly paved road without the smell.
Drinkability: A- > A half-gallon may not be enough.
Bang for the buck: C > Roughs out to about 2 bucks a beer.
ABV: 5.8%
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Cloudy, a little cloudy. Hmm. (sip) Hmm. I don’t know. (sip) It tastes familiar. It’s got something. I dunno if that’s the honey. (sip) That’s pretty good. I kinda like that. It must be honey that I’m getting a little bit… of. (sip) Yeah, not bad. (sip). {A five-sipper. I think we have another winner!}

(BA)(RB)

CandyDanger Mouse
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Gandy Dancers

There’s a great 30 minute film about Gandy Dancers here.

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