Nothing against Nebraska, but the drive across the state isn’t the most visually interesting. Knowing the mountains are at your back makes the plains stretch on endlessly. It’s no wonder they built The Archway. It’s a beautiful building that appears I’m sure has lovely exhibits, but it’s a tourist trap if I’ve ever seen one. “If we want to enjoy our time at White Elm, we can’t go inside” I said, as we watched our daughter burn energy crawling around the gift shop. She sighed, grabbing her from the floor. “Can we at least get her photo in front of the giant bison?”
White Elm Brewing Company calls a strip mall south of downtown Lincoln, Nebraska its home. They appeared packed upon arrival, and I went to identify seats before we unstrapped our daughter from the car. Busy it was, yet I spotted a pair of seats at the far end. I have a strange affinity to thin taprooms and theirs delivers. Their wooden bar runs half the length, with a white subway tile backsplash and chalkboard tap list. Cavernous ceilings and thin antique lights provide a vertical counter to the horizontal. A mural of their logo, the eponymous white elm, appears opposite of the bar. Standard craft brewery decor done well.
Immediately after settling in the corner, I turned to find the previously busy taproom calm. We must’ve hit a strange time. I don’t mind; I prefer a quiet taproom after a long drive. Two things stood out to me. First, there was a rugby game on the television. I’ve seen a lot of sporting events at breweries, never rugby. A nice change of pace. Second, there were a couple of plants dotting the room. This added a splash of green and warmth to an otherwise gray and brown palette. More breweries could stand to do something similar.
No flights at White Elm, only 4oz tasters. Again, no complaints. In total, I tasted six of their beers. Mocha Stout, Pyxis Farmhouse Ale, Fluffaluffagus Marshmallow Stout, Flat Roofin’ English Brown Porter, Look at this Photograph Pale Ale, and Spacegrass West Coast-ish Imperial IPA. The bartender was helpful in navigating their list of 12 beers. He gave descriptions of each I inquired about and provided some backstory on a few as well. For instance, they named one of their beers due to a brewer’s hatred of the band Nickelback. I’ll let you guess which one.
Pyxis was interesting. When a beer has tasting notes of key lime, vanilla, and hibiscus it’s hard not to order it. Very key lime forward, but balanced by the vanilla and hibiscus. It’s a beer that could’ve have been all sorts of wrong, yet shined. Flat Roofin’ highlighted the dichotomy that a craft brewery can create. Jet black, notes of toffee, caramel malt, and a touch of chocolate. Take an American style brown ale and dial things up a notch or two. Both excellent beers, and my favorites at White Elm.
Unfortunately, long road trips are synonymous with short taproom visits. Our camera was still “broken” during our stay which means none of the photos I took turned out. Luckily, we remedied this at a brewery the following day. Only a handful of photos made it through on my phone. I wanted to share more of their taproom with you, it was a pleasure to experience. Also, I was only able to taste half of White Elm’s beers and I would’ve loved to try more. Put them on any itinerary that’s passing through Lincoln, Nebraska. They’ll be on mine.