Heading to Andersonville on a beer mission is nothing new, but steering past Hopleaf is—and yet, last night I managed to close my ears to its sudsy call and continue on to a new microbrew destination: Mary’s Rec Room.
Located next door to Hamburger Mary’s—its kitschified other half that similarly draws a mostly gay crowd—the Rec Room wears the pants in this relationship. Sort of. It’s a brewpub with an athletic bent: Flatscreens tuned to baseball line the back bar, and nods to the Cubs and Bears are sprinkled throughout, as is the occasional piece of vintage paraphernalia (an old basketball hoop here, a trophy there). The sporty vibe, however, is tempered by thick red drapes, a giant bouquet of fresh flowers atop the bar, and the sounds of "Love Shack" pulsing throughout the space. But—for me, at least—the décor was incidental. I was there for the beer.
Co-owner Brandon Wright, who does double duty as brewmaster, keeps three beers on tap: Gangster Hopped Up Ale, Dandyshandy Light Wheat Beer, and Lightweight Golden Ale. I went with the Gangster ($4.25), identified as a cross between an amber and an American pale ale, and described on the beer list with an attention to detail any homebrewer would appreciate: "a blend of 2-row brewers malt, roasted barley, and caramel and Munich malts."
The Gangster wasn’t as tough as its name. It had that lovely telltake homebrew flavor, but I tend to prefer more robust amber ales, but fans of lighter brews should find this beer satisfying. Those, like me, who go for a fuller flavor can pick from a sizeable roster of guest beers; draft options range from Two Brothers to Abita to Point. But, unlike me, most folks didn’t seem to be concerned about the beer. Burgers flowed fast from the kitchen—as did a steady stream of margaritas.
Which makes for a pleasant drink-what-you-will atmosphere that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I can’t say the Rec Room will replace Hopleaf—or Smallbar or Map Room—as my go-to beer spot, but I’d go back. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that there’ll be a homemade stout on draft.