Beer Drinking in Lincoln
by Tyler A. Thomas
If you’re new to Lincoln, it might surprise you to discover that Lincoln has quite the craft beer scene that is starting to rival popular craft beer cities in Oregon and Colorado. With a rich history of brewing across the state, Lincoln is pioneering the way for new breweries in Nebraska. With historical breweries like Empyrean Ales in Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill to the popular and nationally recognized Zipline Brewing and Boiler Brewing Company, Lincoln has an amazing beer culture with each brewery crafting their own unique take on beer, food and hospitality.
Lincoln’s breweries brew diverse beers but still pay attention to creating a memorable experience. Some feature typical taprooms with high top tables, bar snacks, dim lighting and 10+ taps of their latest creations. Others serve their beer restaurant-style with an appetizer or even a three-course meal. Most feature tasting their beers through flights (which I highly recommend) and some have outdoor seating for the warmer months.
I often get asked, “which brewery is your favorite?”
I always reply with a huge smile and rapid fire back a
1.What beer styles do you like?
2.Who are you with? A buddy, co-workers, extended family, your kids?
3.Do you want to eat?
These three questions usually help me point the person in the right direction.
Empyrean Brewingcan be found in the historic Haymarket restaurant Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill. Empyrean’s standard lineup of beers are delicious and are available in the restaurant and in local grocery stores. In addition to their standard beers, Empyrean features seasonal and rotating selections in the restaurant, with some guest features from their local home brewers’ competition. One of Lincoln’s gems, Empyreans’ Beer School is an awesome experience. Offered once a month, guests can explore different types of brews with the head brewmaster Rich Chapin and sample five craft beers. But get there early, only the first 150 people make it in.
Ten minutes north of downtown in the Fallbrook area is Schilling Bridge Cork and Tap. Its location provides an escape from the city and their offerings are great for a date night or a big group outing. Between stand out beer, delicious wine flights and some big flavors on their menu, Shilling Bridge is a perfect neighborhood brewery. If you’re hungry or just need a snack, a few items featured at Schilling Bridge are crafted with their beer and they are a must try. From the beer bread and beer cheese nachos to the drunken nachos with their Scottish Ale BBQ brisket, you won’t be disappointed. If the time of year is right, Schilling Bridge has a killer outdoor seating area with fire pits and outdoor pizza oven and an even better view of downtown.
If you’re looking for that traditional taproom feel, award winning Zipline Brewing Co.is just that. It features frequent happy hours, monthly brewery tours and, to satisfy your appetite, some nights they bring in local food trucks. The selection of standard and rotating beers is reason enough to Uber out to Zipline, but their atmosphere seals the deal. Featuring an outdoor area and private conference room, Zipline is a Lincoln must. If you can’t make it to the near downtown brewery, swing by the German style beer hall in southeast Lincoln featuring high ceilings, long community tables and interactive games. If you’re hungry there is a diverse food menu offered by Art & Soul available in the hall via a pass-through window. The beer hall is the perfect post church Sunday hang out.
Next door to the Zipline beer hall in south Lincoln is Local Beer, Patio and Kitchen. An Omaha favorite, this restaurant lives for local beer. If you can’t make it out to western Nebraska, you don’t have to, Local serves 100s of beers on tap from breweries all across the state. Not only does Local provide a huge draft beer selection, their menu is amazing. From small plates to full entrées and a generous happy hour, Local is perfect any time of the day. My personal favorite is The Sloppy Charlie, add beer cheese sauce. If you’re a fan of messy bar food that will fill you up and make you all warm inside, this is it. Wash it down with a cold beer. You won’t be disappointed.
Have you ever had a beer in a cave? Well, Blue Blood Brewing Co.has this bucket list item covered. Located above the historic “Robber’s Cave,” rumored to a be a Jesse James hideout, Blue Blood Brewing Co. is a Lincoln brewery and full service restaurant. With 20 taps, Blue Blood serves up 15 of their own creations and five other Nebraska based beers. The food menu is focused on pub fare and similar to many brewery restaurants, they include menu items that feature their own beers like their Happier Than Ale cheese sauce, creamy IPA-Parmesan dressing and the amazing Adult Stout Float featuring Okhrana Imperial Stout and vanilla bean ice cream. The restaurant is huge with both indoor and outdoor seating and you can experience a cave tour three times a week. The beer and food are enough to try Blue Blood, but the cave, its historic story and photo ops makes it well worth the visit.
“A better round of beer” Backswing Brewingis one of Lincoln’s newest breweries owned and brewed by golfers. Inspired by the love of the game, Backswing features three standout beers and a small taproom. The taproom is the place to watch the game, relax with friends or even play some music bingo (specific nights only). Backswing Brewing is giving us all a new reason to hit the course.
If you’re in search of rustic ales with a modern spin White Elmis brewing them in a near downtown neighborhood. Located off 8th and Van Dorn, White Elm’s taproom is modern with an industrial flare and its tap handles feature American and classic Belgian ales, plus seasonal and guest taps.
Code Beeris near downtown Lincoln on the corner of Antelope Valley Parkway and N Street and is an escape from the downtown ruckus and a great place to meet up with a small group of friends. Their beer selection usually consists of 11 beers on tap ranging from cream ales and IPAs to milk stouts and passion fruit sours. While they don’t serve food on-site, guests can bring their own food. With so many take-out and delivery places near downtown, Code Beer is a perfect bar stop for a flight of unique beers all before heading back to your hotel.
Lincoln’s newest taproom features my favorite Broken Bow brewery, Kinkaider Brewing Co.Opening its doors in fall 2018, Kinkaider’s brewing style features small-batch beer and they often use ingredients fresh from their farm including chokecherries, jalapenos, pumpkins, corn and Nebraska hops. From beer on tap to snacks and special events, Kinkaider has transplanted their hospitality from the Sandhills to the Haymarket giving us all another place to try!
If you can’t make it to a Lincoln brewery, The Happy Raven downtown at 122 N. 11th Street is Lincoln’s craft beer bar with 16 rotating taps and includes a massive bottle selection as well as a laid back atmosphere.
Whether you’re in town for a football game, conference or just visiting family the Lincoln beer scene is definitely something to explore, enjoy and maybe even write home about. And if you’re on Untappd, you’ll have plenty of options to check-in and document your adventures pints to brag to your friends about.