Froth-topped glasses of house-made beer welcome patrons to Rock Bottom Brewery, where chefs prolong the flavor fun with creative American dishes made from scratch. To pique the interest of coy appetites, kitchen artists toss firecracker shrimp in sweet thai chili sauce and pair ale-brushed giant ballpark pretzels with spicy spinach-cheese dip. Stomachs ready for main fare can request a plate of short rib, braised overnight and dished with white-cheddar mashed potatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, pearl onions, and mushroom sauce. Half a roasted hunter’s chicken lounges in a wild mushroom and tomato demi-glace, and the creole jambalaya’s jumbo shrimp parades into mouths atop a float of andouille sausage, roasted chicken, tomato sauce, and white rice. The pizza selection sends toppings to tables via flatbread rafts, and Bourbonzola burgers bombard mouths with a combination of Jim Beam glaze, creamy gorgonzola cheese, and crisp onion straws—the same mixture that Kentucky gentlemen use as shaving cream.
After an injury forced him to retire prematurely from the Lincoln Police Department in 2006, Brian Podwinski set out to find a new passion. He began brewing his own beer at home, and before long, became hooked. Brian's knack for creating homemade suds caught the attention of friend and law-enforcement confidant Jason Goodwin, and together—and perhaps following a few too many of Brian's brews—the pair decided they wanted to open a brewery.
Named in honor of those who protect and serve every day, Blue Blood Brewing Company officially opened in December 2011. There, Brian, Jason, and others concoct handcrafted ales inspired by special people or places. Currently, the brewery produces a classic series and seasonal selections, all of which use the finest ingredients available and hops grown right in Nebraska.
The brewers who keep Keg Creek Brewing Company afloat in fermented fare began as homebrewers. Though they now operate an entire company, their experimental, do-it-yourself philosophy remains the same. From mash tanks and fermentation vessels come the brewery's lifeblood, a lineup of expertly crafted beers that flow forth daily in the onsite tasting room. The brews include Wabash Wheat, a light-bodied wheat beer that honors the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, and Breakdown Brown Ale, a malty brew named after the communication breakdown that resulted in East Dakota’s statehood. As the seasons change, Keg Creek's brewmasters rotate their output with it, brewing beers both big and small to fit the weather.
The 1.5–2-hour event, which starts at 7 p.m. on a Friday of your choosing, takes place in the wine-tasting room. Set in a French Country House, the tastery features Nebraska vintages from sweet to dry, beer, food, and a wine troll. While sipping sips at the special after-hours event, you'll learn wine lessons from the vineyard's owner's daughter, who is studying to be a sommelier. The unintimidating course includes tips on how to rate, taste, and judge a wine, so you'll leave with the ability to determine if a wine has oaky undertones or hints of tire iron.
WineStyles specializes in hard-to-find wines from vineyards around the globe, offering more than 100 wines for under $25 a bottle. Each group tasting lets you and your companions sample the distinct flavors of three red and three white wines. The choices range from light- to full-bodied, and they are poured by a friendly, educated sommelier devoted to educating the populace on their preferred subject. Each tasting lasts between one-and-a-half to two hours and will leave even the most inexperienced vino sippers swirling and sniffing with enough skill to make the neighbors ferment with jealousy. Alternately, bring a whole gaggle of your neighbors along and move on to impressing the cats that live behind the house.
The wine wizards at A World of Wine transport sophisticated sippers to distant ambrosial lands with libations from around the globe. Groups of grape aficionados can gather for a private tasting to sample six different wines, ripened to perfection and aged for the amount of time it takes the bottle to cross the ocean in a paddleboat. During the one-hour session, a vino connoisseur discusses each sample and offers as much tasting tutelage as desired by each group of drinkers. Duos, quartets, and octets can engage their taste buds with three red and three white wines in the comfortable confines of the wine shop's tasting area that allows for an intimate event in which to share opinions, observations, and embarrassing grape-stomping photos.