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deep in the pockets of random beer culture

A Tale of Two Isaacs, or Kiwi-Spotting on Route 66...
Posted Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by emerge

Labor Day weekend usually finds me deep in the rural backwaters of central Illinois. This time it just so happened the remnants of tropical storm Isaac were blowing over during the trip. This meant intermittent blasts of zero visibility on I-55, sunshine on one side of the road, grey/black thunderheads on the other side. Welp, I wasn't going to let that put a dent into my plans...


Sunday afternoon I embarked on points south of Springfield, intending to make a growler stop at the new brewpub downtown, Obed & Isaac's, after checking out the historic Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, IL (about 45 min. south). There was a hairy storm or two along the way, but pretty short-lived for the most part.

About 15 minutes before the Litchfield exit, I noticed an electric blue convertible on Route 66, which parallels I-55 to St. Louis. Later as I was leaving the Ariston, I noticed the same car in the parking lot, apparently the group inside were from New Zealand on some sort of Route 66 cross-country road trip tour. 

The Ariston Cafe is the oldest operating cafe on the entire Route 66 route, and has been in business since 1924. 

Ariston Cafe

It was a cool old building with vintage neon signs and the interior was a fun time warp. Think roadside diner with a little dash of Twin Peaks thrown in. There was a mounted marlin on the wall, a salad bar, lunch counter, and a small table up front showcasing the beer selection, around 20 bottles including Chimay, Goose IPA, Honkers, and Red's Rye.

Service was prompt and friendly, I had a fresh Weihenstephaner served with the proper glass. 

Only tried an appetizer but it was pretty interesting, roasted tomato jam, feta, olives and pita. Lots of hearty dishes on the menu, and an old school dessert tray with a dozen pies. The Ariston is a fun pit stop if you appreciate roadside Americana and hearty food. There just so happened to be a decent beer selection too, which was just icing on the cake.

On the way back, the storms broke long enough to get back downtown to Obed & Isaac's. They actually put a historic house on a flatbed and set it up adjacent to their brewery. If you're ever passing through Springfield, it's a pretty fun little place to check out.

Got a growler of their Long 9 Black IPA (8.2%) which was very roasty and pine laden, incredibly light and smooth for the abv.

Returned just in time for a fish fry, and had some Schlafly American IPA & Pumpkin Ale to wind down with that night...