Pub Review – Tribes Alehouse & Grill: Mokena, IL

You would never think to find one of Chicago’s pre­miere pubs 30 miles south of Chicago. And you cer­tainly wouldn’t expect to find it in a lit­tle town known more for being named after a “mud tur­tle” than beer…But that’s exactly where you’ll find it. Nes­tled on the newer side of town, The Tribes Ale­house and Grill is quickly mak­ing it’s mark as not one of but Chicago’s sin­gle most top-notch bev­er­age joint.

Update: I am cur­rently sit­ting at Tribes RIGHT NOW, lit­er­ally, my lap­top is on the bar. THey have just com­pletely redone their menu. I can’t even begin to tell you how rad it is. Appar­ently, the pot roast sand­wich is to die for. I’ll let you know! Cheers!


Address:
11220 W Lin­coln Hwy, Mokena, IL 60448
Hours: 11am-1am
Web­site: www.tribesalehouse.com
Brews: Full, cur­rent list here.

Loca­tion, Loca­tion, Location!

Now, I have to be really upfront here, the first time I heard of this joint, I had no idea where it was, even though I grew up in the same town. As a mat­ter of fact, even after I knew where it was, I drove past it three times. Keep­ing along with the hon­esty, how­ever, my delayed arrival only added to the adventure.

When you first pull up, you might think to your­self, “Is this pub that I’ve heard so much about really in a strip mall?” And if you’re the type, you might just answer your­self, “Why yes, yes it is”. I will give you that, it’s kind of weird at first to think of a pub next to a tan­ning salon and a Dunkin Donuts, but give it a chance. Just as some of the best pubs I’ve ever expe­ri­enced in Lon­don, Scot­land and even Chicago are strate­gi­cally nes­tled in the busy goings-on of bustling urbana, Tribes doesn’t let you down. And you know what, maybe the loca­tion really forces you to make up your mind. If you don’t have the deter­mi­na­tion to find it, maybe you don’t want it bad enough.

In all fair­ness, it’s not dif­fi­cult to locate. It’s right off the cor­ner of an inter­sec­tion that is quickly build­ing up, and it’s nearly at the cen­ter of three of the sub­urbs up-and-coming towns. Actu­ally, Will County, where Tribes is located was recently voted one of the bet­ter places to plant your roots in Amer­ica (some­one, some­where stated that, I know it).

As you pull up, you see what could be just another bar and grill, but you don’t know what’s in store…

★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Atmos­phere:

The Imme­di­ate Entrance

As soon as you cross the thresh­old, you real­ize this isn’t your home­town bar (even though it is mine, haha). You are greeted with a frosted glass win­dow giv­ing you a sneak peak of the large din­ing area you didn’t even think existed from the out­side. You are directed to turn right into the bar area and imme­di­ately notice that who­ever designed this place has damn good taste! The bar is ele­gantly crafted from solid, rich-looking and feel­ing woods. Every cor­ner, every divider, every every­thing is taste­fully adorned with awe­some crown mold­ing and skill­ful wood­work. The tables all make you feel like a King when you sit at them, with beefy chairs and even beefier table­tops. The walls are treated with a nice paint job that gives a real lived-in feel, but in the best way.

The Bar

The bar area is just absolutely gor­geous. Seri­ously. The tap han­dles are lined up for what seems like a mile, all dif­fer­ent, on a super rad look­ing brass back­ing. Above the active han­dles are the inac­tive ones, the brews that are not cur­rently on tap, and they are lined up in a way that really adds depth, and lets you know that these cats know what they’re talk­ing about. The kegs built into the walls (for dec­o­ra­tion, the real kegs are in back), boxes and crates of all your favorite brews strate­gi­cally placed through­out, all melt together with the exposed rafters for a new-meets-old industrial/Irish pub look. I have never seen the two flow together so effort­lessly, for real. It’s appar­ent at this point in your stay that you won’t be leav­ing for some time…

Dec­o­ra­tion

Ok, so now you’re impressed. You decide you had bet­ter grab what is most likely that last seat at the bar (yeah, that hap­pens a lot here). As you do, you begin to look around a lit­tle more slowly…a lit­tle more care­fully. You will notice that the dec­o­ra­tions are not ran­dom, like at most bars, nor are they hap­haz­ard. They were inten­tional. All of them. There are flick­ers of mod­ern bar here and there, but it doesn’t take away from the ambiance of the envi­ron­ment. Vin­tage beer and brew­ery signs are art­fully inte­grated with the most up-to-date brewer posters avail­able (think Stone, 3-Floyds, Dog­fish Head). The really neat thing is, instead of slap­ping the posters up all willy-nilly, the posters are sur­rounded by hand-made frames that really lend them­selves to the back-home-in-Ireland feel they represent.

The Spe­cial Boards

As you con­tinue to cir­cle, you will notice that Tribes has for­gone the stan­dard neon-lit dry erase board and slop­pily writ­ten Bud­weiser posters for their spe­cials. Instead, they hire local artists to draw really awe­some pieces of art on elegantly-lit chalk­boards. They often fea­ture either the logos of the brands they rep­re­sent or images fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar theme as the brew­ery. Of course as the spe­cials change, the boards change. Kind of like the works of art in the man­sion at the end of “Antitrust”, this offers a lit­tle vari­ance from time to time. Hell, I guess it also let’s you know what the spe­cials are.

Look­ing In At the Bar

Finally com­plet­ing your full cir­cle, you see that there is actu­ally an entire sec­ond room. This is not only for the folks that don’t want to sit at the bar (more likely those who got there too late to get a seat at the bar!), but those that want to sit with a larger group and have some cir­cu­lar con­ver­sa­tion around a com­mon table. In addi­tion, this is where the games and events take place. They have Open Mic Night (com­plete with prizes), Oys­ter­fest, Kinky Quiz Night, Live Music, and most importantly…THE ULTIMATE BEER BOUTS!!! One of the coolest things that hap­pens in this room is the Mon­day night Blue­grass get-together. A bunch of local musi­cians get together and just jam out with every­thing from upright bass’ to fid­dles to banjos.

Come Thirsty, Leave Hoppy”

My final impres­sion of the atmos­phere is totally awe­some. It has the clas­sic (and I mean clas­sic) feel of the most friendly, homie bars, but then it has the abil­ity to host some of America’s great­est beer events (lit­er­ally, the Beer Bouts and tak­ing Amer­ica by storm). Also, they have the capac­ity to han­dle all sorts of group sizes and parties.

★★★★★★★★★★

Menu:

This is an area that is pretty close to my heart. First and fore­most, of course, because I love beer, obvi­ously. But I also mean the food menu. The pair­ings offered at a pub of this cal­iber are extremely important.

The beer offer­ings are so vast and so con­sis­tently chang­ing that my stan­dard line when­ever I sit down at the bar is, “So, what’s new?”. At the time that this review is being writ­ten, these are the brew­eries rep­re­sented (in no par­tic­u­lar order…other than alphabetical):

  • Alla­gash Brew­ing Company
  • Bear Repub­lic Brew­ing Company
  • Bridge­port Brewing
  • Dark Horse Brew­ing Company
  • Brouw­erij Huyghe
  • Dog­fish Head Brewery
  • Stone Brew­ing Company
  • Founders Brew­ing Company
  • Dia­geo
  • Lagu­ni­tas Brew­ing Company
  • Left Hand Brew­ing Company
  • Lost Coast Brewery
  • Men­do­cino Brew­ing Company
  • Met­ro­pol­i­tan Brewing
  • North Coast Brew­ing Company
  • Ommegang Brew­ery
  • Orig­i­nal Sin Cidery
  • Rogue Ales
  • South­ern Tier Brew­ing Company
  • Three Floyds Brew­ing Company
  • Two Broth­ers Brew­ing Company
  • Tyra­nena Brewing

Now, the neat part is, you prob­a­bly said, “I haven’t heard of half of those brew­eries…”, guess what, that’s your fault. Go to a place like Tribes more often and you’ll learn a lot more than you ever thought. For instance, what’s the last pub you’ve been to that serves Three Floyds’ Dark Lord 2010? How about Three Floyds’ Alpha King on cask? You prob­a­bly didn’t know that only one bar other than Three Floyds’ own brew­pub has served Dark Lord on tap…EVER. That bar was Tribes. One more exam­ple. I went to my favorite home­brew shop (Bar­ley and Hops), and asked if they had any bot­tles of South­ern Tier’s “Pumk­ing”. I was told that the entire coun­try is now out, accord­ing to the South­ern Tier rep, but they had 12 bot­tles left. I bought 10. Then I went to Tribes, and guess who had not one, not two, but FOUR kegs of Pumk­ing left. I’m pretty con­fi­dent I sold you on the beer, but what about the food?

I actu­ally LOVE to eat here. They have such an awe­some selec­tion of food that I have yet to get bored, and I have tried some­thing dif­fer­ent almost every time I’ve gone (30+ times this year so far). How rad is this, they have a burger menu. But unlike nor­mal burger menus, all of their burg­ers are avail­able in chicken, beef, or bison. So, take the six burg­ers they offer (The Tribes Burger, Mush­room & Swiss, Black n Bleu, The Smoked BBQ, South­west­ern, and The Pig & Goat) now give it the option of being pre­pared three dif­fer­ent ways. Yeah, it blew my mind too. They absolute best part? The burg­ers come on a pret­zel bun!

I’ve tried every­thing from the starters (I rec­om­mend the Ahi Tuna Sashimi or Hum­mus) to the sal­ads (Beef & Bleu), to the burg­ers (any of ‘em!) to the sand­wiches (I love the rueben), and noth­ing has yet to let me down.

The only request I would make, and even though it’s a small one I think it’s impor­tant, is the addi­tion of pret­zels. As far as I know, Tribes does not have pret­zels avail­able. I admit, I’m a total Rold Gold fan­boy, but I really need my pret­zels to help clear my palette, espe­cially when so many great brews are on tap. Other than that, I absolutely love this place’s beer and food menu, I mean LOVE it.

★★★★★★★★★½

Final Impres­sion:

Lis­ten, by now you clearly think I was paid to write this, well I wasn’t (but Tribes, if you’re read­ing this, I am def­i­nitely open to the idea!). I really just absolutely freak­ing love this place. Seri­ously, why else would I spend every chance I get and every dime my wife gives me for allowance here? I actu­ally wish I could go more often. The atmos­phere is stel­lar, one of the absolute best I’ve seen. The beer is out of this world, and so is the food. The events they put on are epic, and they often sell out within weeks. The help is extremely knowl­edge­able and hang out here even when they’re off. They offer a half off nacho deal when you check in with foursquare four times. They remem­ber your name, and even what you drank last time!

All of this adds up to one thing: a pub that makes you feel like you belong. I have seri­ously struck up con­ver­sa­tions with a car­pen­ter, an accoun­tant, a self-made mil­lion­aire, a biker, a teacher, a male nurse, and a doc­tor just by sit­ting at the bar.

If you are in the Chicago area, do your­self a HUGE favor, make the trip to Tribes. You will be soooo glad you did. And when you get there, tell ‘em the Brew Bros sent ya!
★★★★★★★★★☆

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Dane

Dane Mentzer is a young man with a love for beer and a pas­sion for peo­ple. He prides myself on a well-established nose and palate, with a widely devel­oped vocab­u­lary. The only thing he loves more than beer is peo­ple, and that is where life gets excit­ing. In addi­tion to found­ing The Brew Bros, He has also estab­lished “Beer Into Water” a non-for-profit orga­ni­za­tion aimed at host­ing beer events in order to quench the thirst of chil­dren around the world. Stay tuned for more infor­ma­tion as that char­ity comes to fruition. His favorite style is the Impe­r­ial India Pale Ale, although it changes with the sea­sons. His favorite brew at the time is Arc­tic Panzer Wolf by 3 Floyds.

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11 Comments

  1. Andy Partak says:

    Couldn’t have said it bet­ter myself!

  2. We felt the same way. It is a fan­tas­tic place! Great arti­cle too!

  3. Niall says:

    Out­stand­ing!

  4. Kate says:

    looks very old and stil­ish, i would feel like home over there

  5. It’s actu­ally a cool and help­ful piece of info. I am happy that you sim­ply shared this use­ful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I just moved to Mokena. I’m very excited to try this place out!

  7. Casey says:

    Thanks a bunch for shar­ing this with all of us you actu­ally recog­nise what you are talk­ing approx­i­mately! Book­marked. Please also dis­cuss with my site =). We will have a link trade con­tract among us!

  8. Garth Nevers says:

    Such a won­der­ful shar­ing over here!! I’m just charmed to get your post about the Tribes Ale­house & Grill: Mokena, IL as well. Grill is a yummy food to all so your post will too much impress peo­ple all over the world. Thanks dude carry on your updates for us.….

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  9. Rudolph Heyd says:

    Such a won­der­ful shar­ing over here!! I’m just charmed to get your post about the Tribes Ale­house & Grill: Mokena, IL as well. Grill is a yummy food to all so your post will too much impress peo­ple all over the world. Thanks dude carry on your updates for us.….

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  10. Nia onit says:

    Such a won­der­ful shar­ing over here!! I’m just charmed to get your post about the Tribes Ale­house & Grill: Mokena, IL as well. Grill is a yummy food to all so your post will too much impress peo­ple all over the world. Thanks dude carry on your updates for us.….

    char­coal grill acces­sories

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