Nightlife review: Beers from A to Zipline: Lincoln brewer’s beer hall has something for everyone

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, Dec. 29, 2016

zipline-owh

Zipline Beer Hall

Where: 5740 Hidcote Drive, Lincoln

When: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Info: ziplinebrewing.com or 402-475-1001

* * *

I’m just going to say it: I love Lincoln’s Zipline Brewing Co.

Like many people who have lived in Lincoln, I have a special affinity for the brewery that prides itself on its “Brave New Brews.”

But as of this fall, Zipline gave me something else to love: its new beer hall in southeast Lincoln.

The beer hall, which opened in late October, is nestled in a newer development near 56th Street and Pine Lake Road. This is a more upscale neighborhood than the one that houses the brewery and taproom in west Lincoln, but inside, the beer hall has the same laid-back vibe that Zipline is known for.

Like the taproom, the beer hall decor is minimalist and industrial, with hints of quirky cool. Some funky large light fixtures add interest to the beer hall’s high ceilings, and nearly-floor-to-ceiling windows keep things feeling spacious.

There is seating in tall chairs along the bar, at counters along the far wall and at a few smaller tables.

The majority of the seating is at a few massive communal tables in the center of the room, which reminds me of the setup at Crescent Moon’s Huber-Haus German Bier Hall — one of my favorite places to drink in Omaha. There, and here, the communal seating adds to the friendly environment, where you don’t mind sharing a table and possibly a round with strangers.

Whether you’re drinking with a crowd or just a few friends, Zipline has plenty of beers to go around. The beer hall offers more than 20 of Zipline’s year-round, seasonal, barrel-aged and small-batch brews.

The night we visited it also offered a beer made in collaboration with Omaha’s Scriptown Brewing Co. and guest taps from Ploughshare Brewing Co. and Glacial Till Vineyard.

I ordered a flight so I could have a few different beers. The flights are $6 for four 5-ounce samples. I got the Espresso Stout, Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden Ale, Smoked Bock and the small-batch Barleywine.

Of these, the Espresso Stout and Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden Ale were my favorites.

The Espresso Stout is advertised as having hints of chocolate and coffee, and it delivered on both counts. A darker, heartier beer at 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, the stout is a great beer to sip on a cold winter’s night.

The Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden Ale was presented as having hints of apple, spice and caramel, and it, too, delivered. This complex beer, with 12 percent alcohol by volume, would be great for people who usually gravitate toward wine. It’s the sort of brew that backs up my long-held belief that beer, done right, can be just as sophisticated as wine. It’s now one of my favorite beers.

You can find your own Zipline favorite at the beer hall. It offers beers in flights like I tried or you can grab a pint of most beers for $5 and half pints for $3. Cask beer is $6, and the barrel-aged beers are $6 for a half pint.

During happy hour — 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday — you can get $1 off pints.

Thanks to the beer hall’s partnership with its next-door neighbor — Art & Soul, a kitchen and wine bar — you also can occasionally get food by visiting Art & Soul’s walk-up window between the two businesses.

The beer hall keeps it busy with bingo nights on Mondays and events like cask nights, beer pairings and fundraisers for local organizations throughout the week.

Zipline recently announced plans to open a taproom in Omaha’s north downtown district this spring, but until then, I recommend getting your Zipline fix at the beer hall.

You’re sure to find something you love. I know I did.

Nightlife review: Looking for a simple beer and burger? Head to Brownie’s

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent

Published in the Omaha World-Herald, Dec. 1, 2016

brownies

Brownie’s Watering Hole

Where: 125 E. Second St., Papillion

When: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday to Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday

Info: facebook.com/BrowniesWateringHole or 402-331-9948

* * *

It’s December already.

The hectic holiday season is upon us. Things are about to get really busy, really soon.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way for you to slow down and relax for a bit: Visit Brownie’s Watering Hole in Papillion.

The bar and grill at 125 E. 2nd St. has a decidedly laid-back, small-town vibe.

It’s meant to.

Brownie’s has been promoted as a small-town hangout for years — and the promotions seem to work. This place has staying power. The bar and grill has been serving up unfussy food and cheap booze for more than 25 years.

This isn’t an upscale drinking establishment. There are no signature craft cocktails or gourmet dishes here. Brownie’s is a burgers and beer joint where they keep things casual.

On the beer front, Brownie’s is primarily focused on the classic domestic brands: Budweiser, Coors and the like.

Arguably the fanciest beer on tap (and I am using the word “fanciest” very loosely here) is Shock Top. The Belgian-style wheat beer has subtle hints of citrus and a dash of coriander. It’s a smooth, easy-drinking brew. Though Shock Top doesn’t compare with the interesting craft beers being made by local breweries, it is still a more appealing choice than some other domestic options.

Brownie’s also offers a variety of bottled beer and mixed drinks. I had a Blue Moon, which is always a safe bet if you’re in a bar with more traditional beer offerings. It’s a Belgian White beer and, like Shock Top, has hints of citrus and coriander.

If you’re not into beer, Brownie’s also has all of your standard mixed drinks, but like I said, don’t expect any artisanal cocktails. Brownie’s isn’t that kind of bar.

Small-town watering holes tend to keep things simple, and Brownie’s does that with its food menu, too.

It offers burgers, sandwiches, tacos, salads, wraps and all the fried appetizer options you’d expect, plus a few more, such as fried pickles. Almost everything on the food menu is less than $10, aside from the steaks, which run closer to $15.

I went with Brownie’s 6 oz. cheeseburger, which comes with both American and Swiss cheese. It was less than $7 and it came with a veritable mountain of tater tots. It was a standard burger, one you’d expect at this sort of establishment — good, but not great, and so big there is no way you can finish it in one sitting.

Brownie’s tends to do that with its food — go big. Portions are exceedingly generous. You certainly get a lot for your money.

The bar and grill goes big with its televisions, too. Brownie’s boasts an 8-foot television, which, during football season is always showing one game or another.

If for some reason you’re not into football, Brownie’s also offers shuffleboard, pool, Keno and darts. In short, there’s plenty here to keep folks entertained.

It’s exactly the sort of bar where you can settle in, stay a while and relax, which may be just what you need this holiday season.