As legend goes, Rube Waddell wrestled alligators in the circus during baseball's off-season. Hence the newly opened Waddell's Brewpub & Grille logo: a sketch featuring the turn-of-the-century ballplayer with a gator slung over his shoulders.
Building on the success of the six-year-old South Hill food and beer hub, Waddell's Neighborhood Pub & Grille, owner Michael Noble opened the doors of the North Side counterpart just before Christmas.
The pub's namesake — known for his eccentric personality and famously successful pitching career during the early days of professional baseball — is also the inspiration for many of the new brewery's beer monikers: the South Paw Pale Ale (he was left-handed); the Fireman's Amber Ale (he was known for saving people from burning buildings); and the Alligator Stout (the aforementioned gator wrestling).
When plans for a second location began taking shape in 2008, Noble knew he wanted it to be different than the flagship restaurant. He jumped on the opportunity to build a brewery inside the restaurant in the new Cedar Crossing commercial development at Five Mile, hiring former Northern Lights assistant brewer Bryan Utigard to head up brewing operations.
With a current capacity of 16 kegs — soon to double with three new fermenters — Waddell's currently features six house beers on tap, an impressive number for a just-debuting brewery.
"Bryan had been itching to go out on his own and make his own brews," Noble says of the brewmaster. "So when he got the chance to go out on his own, he already had [beer recipes] developed and ready to go."
Food offerings at the spacious pub are almost identical to the South Hill restaurant: burgers, gourmet hot dogs, the typical pub grub. But a few additions are casually slipped in between Waddell's menu favorites, including "Rube's Gator Wings." There's no play on words here: they're made from real gator meat.
"People are hesitant at first, and we were a little sketchy on what would happen," Noble admits. "But as soon as people get over the food aversion that it was alligator, it was like eating a normal wing."♦
Waddell's Brewpub & Grille • 6501 N. Cedar • Daily from 11 am-close • waddellsbrewery.com • 321-7818