Sunday, September 6, 2009

Upstream Brewing Company

We got to Omaha on Saturday afternoon with an intense craving for bloody good, barely cooked, red meat.

Luckily, we were obliged by a visit to the Old Market section of the city--otherwise we might have had to make due with the stray McNougat or two.

The Old Market is about a 20-some-odd block rectangle that is as it was perhaps 100 years ago, except there's air conditioning now--and beautiful people.

The buildings have been restored to their original grandeur and reoccupied by all sorts of new businesses from gourmet ice cream shoppes (pronounced: shop-pays), to trinket shops (pronounced: shops), to a brewery (pronounced: Beer).

Which brings us to Upstream Brewing Company. This is a brewery/restaurant located in a restored firehouse. Don't worry, the sliding pole has been taken away for safety sake.

This is a very cool two-story place where the second story looks down over a balcony to the first floor bar, and the dining room on the second story, itself spans the space above the brewery at the back of the building on the first floor. Stalwart brick walls. Massive oaken beams. Fine oak trim and handrails. You will only find construction like this in old buildings--as it was and no longer made this way to be. Sigh.

I ordered up the Rye Pale Ale for a change up and delighted in it's refreshing zest. A slightly hoppy treat, it is brewed using locally grown Hops which is very unusual for Nebraska. S, becoming a noted beer connoisseur in her own mind, without any needling picked the O! Gold Light Beer as her first--this is an easy drinking light American Lager beer--I had a sip and can tell you that it tastes a lot fuller than the 3.8% ABV it was sporting!

S and I knew what we were after in terms of dinner and without much drama ordered and savored the grilled ribeyes that were perfectly prepared to our liking and excellent in flavor and texture. Accompanying baby carrots and broccoli were spot on and complemented the steak perfectly.

It occurred to S and I as we were eating our dinner and sipping our beer that there's no place like this in NEPA. Some place where a brewery and food are paired in an interesting and/or historical place--a place where you'd want to bring friends from out of town. It is startling to me that no one has done anything like this. Yes, we've had Black Rock Brewing Company--but there wasn't anything historicial about that structure althought the beer was good. Yes we have Cooper's, but the same goes for that in terms of the structure and it's not a brewery either.

An old firehouse, an old bank (there are plenty sitting empty or about to become so), an old library, an old department store (when they were downtown). An old train station for heaven's sake! Any of these places could work with some creativity and investment and could become the centerpiece of the downtowns of say Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg, or Scranton. I'm not complaining, just thinking out loud.

I would definitely stop here again if I was passing through Omaha. It's a very nice place. And just remember, the distance between beef and beer is separated by 11 letters and Upstream Brewing Company is on 11th street in Omaha.

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