Upstream Brewing Company
Order a BLT at Upstream Brewing Company, and chances are good you'll taste a tomato picked that morning. Every year, a nearby farmer—amiably known as Farmer Jerry—plants 700 heirloom-tomato plants reserved exclusively for the brewery’s kitchens. Executive chefs Gary Hoffman and Jonathan Draper covet such freshness, and it shows on their menus. Seafood arrives from both coasts at least two to three times a week—throughout the summer, the chefs get even wild salmon harvested during the runs in Alaska's Copper River. And of course there are the cuts straight from Omaha Steaks, which the chefs choose individually from choice-grade, 21-day wet-aged beef.
This dedication to quality echoes Upstream Brewing Company's name. Taken from the Native American word "Omaha"—meaning "upstream" or "against the current" in honor of the settling tribe that traveled up the Missouri River—it reflects the owners' intention to elevate the typical brewpub experience by taking unexpected approaches. The flagship Old Market location also mirrors this dedication to the unpredictable, residing in a converted 21,000-square-foot firehouse built in 1904 that surrounds guest with dining spaces including a patio, two floors with bars, and a rooftop deck. In between the exposed-brick walls, diners may spy charring on the timber beams, marks left by a fire in 1917 during an ill-conceived attempt to domesticate Roman candles.
The basement houses part of the brewery, where brew masters handcraft batches of house beers from the Flagship IPA to cask-conditioned ales. They also continually experiment with seasonal beers—one such creation, the "Johnny" Dortmunder Lager, placed on DRAFT Magazine's top 25 beers of 2010—as well as Bugeater Root Beer, named in honor of Omaha's sports teams before they became known as Cornhuskers. Both the Old Market and Legacy locations encompass billiard rooms, and the staffs encourage guests to linger out the hours by trying a new brew or ordering something off the late-night menu.