With its rusted metal exterior and a revolving skeleton motorcycle rider atop a “garden” of motorcycle parts, Twisted Spoke may seem a little intimidating upon first glance. While biker-themed, the bar attracts a wide range of customers to its easily accessible 500 N. Ogden Avenue thanks to their extensive selection of craft beer and whiskeys, along with their very popular brunch and huge, mouth-watering burgers.
To celebrate 20 years in business, Twisted Spoke filled their 20 taps with rare and unique beers. The Chicago Traveler was invited out to chow down on some sandwiches and sample some brews.
The bar definitely has a very industrial feel with its mash of metal, brick, and concrete and all the bartenders are heavily tattooed, but this isn’t the place for any Sons of Anarchy-style nonsense.
A gigantic bar runs the length of the downstairs with likely hundreds of brown liquors lining the wall. Windows line the entirety of the bar letting in a surprising amount of light during the day. What’s perhaps even more surprising for a biker bar, and a rarity for Chicago, is the open air rooftop beer garden filled with picnic tables.
Everyone from bikers to craft beer nerds should find plenty to love here. Families will be fine for brunch or lunch for sure, though be warned, or get excited, because the Twisted Spoke is known for their “Smut and Eggs” on Saturdays. When midnight rolls around, they start playing old porn videos and begin serving brunch.
It’s Beer Time
The very friendly staff and bartenders were passing around trays of miniature versions of their signature burgers and sandwiches, plus some incredible fries, but the real highlight here were all the unique beers on tap. There was a mixture of both local and bigger national brewers– like New Belgium and Founders with a few common denominators. There were one offs, collaborations and some beers you’re likely only to find traded in the deep recesses of beer rating websites. Nearly everything was barrel aged, packed with complex flavors, and boasted a very high alcohol content.
Highlights included the Arcadia Barrel Aged Cereal Killer (barleywine aged in bourbon barrels), the Firestone Walker Barrel Aged Velvet Merkin (oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels), Illuminati Barrel Aged Maw (black abbey stout specially aged for the bar in Templeton Rye), and a New Belgium Twisted Spoke Anniversary Sour Ale aged in a Leopold whiskey apple barrel.
Among the many thick, dark beers I tried, the Half Acre Barrel Aged Thunder & Son (specially aged for Twisted Spoke in a Few Whiskey Barrel) was a major standout. The product of a Chicago brewery and an Evanston distillery, the aged brown ale was filled with a smooth whiskey taste that was a perfect blend of beer and spirits.
Though I think my favorite of the night was the Three Floyd’s Alpha Kong– a beer you’re never going to find at your neighborhood liquor store. The Belgium Sextuple was listed at an insane 13% ABV on the beer menu, but you’d never know until you’re ready to get off the bar stool. Pouring a light tan and smelling like flowers growing beside a roaring river, the beer tempers down the alcohol with light floral notes, fruity flavors, and a Belgian-inspired lust for life.
It was complicated yet easily drinkable.
Rather than following trends or dilapidating into a dive, the Twisted Spoke has managed to stay unique, relevant, and a Chicago favorite. Whether you want a juicy burger, enjoy the summer weather during a rooftop brunch, or discover a new craft beer while wearing leather chaps, the Twisted Spoke has something for everyone.
501 N Ogden Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
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