The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Demo Brewing

Welcome to stop #104 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Demo Brewing, 1763 W. Berteau Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood. (Also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (zone 2)
Distance from station: 1.1 km (400 m from CTA)

The newest brewery on Malt Row opened March 29th just 2 km from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters and less than 500 meters from the CTA. I had a lot going on in April so I didn't get to check it out until last weekend. Cassie came with and met a couple of friends while my friends and I tried some of their beers.

For a variety of reasons, including Cassie wanting to meet every other dog in the place and the humans wanting to, you know, talk to each other, I didn't take detailed tasting notes. I had a pint of the Brunch Goblin Brut IPA (7%, 32 IBU), which I found refreshing and light, despite its strength. Given its proximity to my house, and its open-door policy to dogs, Cassie and I will return probably over Memorial Day weekend when I'll try a few other beers.

It won't replace Spiteful as my third place, but Cassie and I will put it in rotation along the south end of Malt Row with Dovetail and Begyle.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

MobCraft Brewing

Welcome to stop #103 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: MobCraft Brewing, 101 N. Johnson St., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 200 m

Between the perfect weather, the really good beer, and the view of the Woodstock Town Square, my Brews buddy and I really enjoyed our visit to MobCraft last weekend. I mean, doesn't this just make you want to sing "The Pennsylvania Polka?":

But back to the beer. We tried two flights, again, this time with no overlaps:

  • Crush: Tropic Wave fruit beer (6%): Not my favorite at all, even after one sip. She: "This tastes like what you give to your high school girlfriend who's too classy for White Claw." (To clarify, in this scenario, you're both in high school, she wants to make clear.)
  • First Time in a Long Time copper lager (4.8%): Not a big impression. A decent basic lager, good malt, crisp enough for summer.
  • Juni-perfect Saison (6.5%): Beautiful scent, quite tart, she didn't expect to like it and did, I had the reverse experience and just wrote "NOPE!" in my notebook. (This is why we review these together.)
  • Out of Office light hopped ale (4.5%): Decent, drinkable, neutral palate, "nice on a hot summer day," would buy.
  • Squeezin' Juice IPA (6.7%): I liked the good Citra hoppiness, nice finish, and drinkability; she wasn't a big fan and said "tastes like Daisy Cutter." Nonetheless we bought some for the 90-minute train trip back to Clybourn.
  • Vanilla Wafer Porter (7%): Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, really smooth, not too sweet or strong. She: "That's good, I like that!"

The brewery has two taprooms, one upstairs with smaller rooms off the main bar and lighter beers, and one downstairs with jail cells and darker beers. (The building used to be the sherriff's annex to the historic town hall next door.) It looks like it would be cozy in the wintertime, especially if you're trapped for 10,000 days in Woodstock on February 2nd.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Healthy, happy dog once again

Cassie and I just got back from her vet, with a good 2 km walk in each direction and treats at both ends. The semi-annual wellness check was only $88, and pronounced Cassie in perfect health. Even her weight (25 kg) is exactly what it should be, so I can start adding a little kibble to her meals if we walk a lot.

Of course, the heartworm pills were $230 and the fecal test was $107, so not everything about the checkup was great. Le sigh.

Also, it's warm today: 27°C for both walks, which is more like June 14th than May 13th (normal high: 20.9°C). I even had the air on last night. But I can see a cold front approaching from the west, with an expected temperature crash around 6pm and temperatures barely above 10°C (March 24th!) tomorrow. I'm glad we got our walks in already—looks like the first thunderstorm could hit before 3pm.

And check back tomorrow and Wednesday for two more Brews & Choos reviews from this past weekend, including a brand-new brewery that just opened 2 km from my front door.

Holzlager Brewing

Welcome to stop #102 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Holzlager Brewing, 150F S. Eastwood Dr., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 1 km

Woodstock isn't the farthest Metra station from downtown Chicago; that honor goes to Harvard, which is almost 20 minutes farther out. But getting to Woodstock by train on a weekend takes about 2 hours when you have to change trains at Clybourn. And no small irony, the train taking me the one stop from home to Clybourn was 30 minutes late, cutting our overall travel time by that amount.

My frequent Brews buddy and I went to the town, made famous in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, and spent a few hours wandering around and drinking beer. We stopped first at the farthest (walkable) brewery, Holzager, which turned out to be at the end of a strip mall off a stroad just outside the historic section of town.

At least they have an outdoor space, which we found pleasant despite the traffic noise. And they make pretty decent beer. We each got a flight of four 150 mL pours, and tried 7 beers total (we both had Clown Hammer):

  • Agrarian Pale Ale (5.4%, 36 IBU): lots of hops, nice finish, some malt.
  • Clown Hammer AIPA (7.6%, 63 IBU): big hops, big malt, big flavor, maybe some banana and apricot notes. The brewery's #1 seller.
  • Fruit Warmer: the fruit rounds out the hop bitterness; big pineapple and apricot notes.
  • Let Go My Belgo Pale (6%, 26 IBU): "I love the name. It tastes like it's designed like a Belgian but lacking the complexity."
  • Malina Raspberry Ale (5.7%, 14 IBU): Uncomplicated, and tastes like real raspberry.
  • Moostache Milk Stout (5.7%, 18 IBU): Burnt notes, with coffee and a little chocolate, but thinner texture than expected. My friend added, "it's like an Imperial stout, but where's the ABV?"
  • Wooly Haggis Scotch Ale (10.1%, 26 IBU): very malty at first but changed after the initial few moments, with a very long finish. Again, some banana notes, which we pretty consistently tasted in all their beers.

We both want to explore Woodstock a bit more, but probably not this summer. And probably not in the beginning of February, either. Cute town, passable first brewery.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? Yes
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Maybe

New Brews & Choos reviews soon

My frequent Brews buddy and I trekked out to Woodstock, Ill., yesterday, and visited the two breweries in town, then took Cassie to the newest brewery in my own neighborhood. I'll be going through notes and photos later today, so expect the reviews up tomorrow through Wednesday.

Meanwhile, for some reason, Minnesota unfurled a new state flag yesterday:

Minnesota's new flag went into official use Saturday, which has many wondering why the state adopted a new flag. The controversial replacement of the old flag requires an explanation of that emblem's history.

The legislature established the State Emblems Redesign Commission during the 2023 session to redesign Minnesota's flag and seal.

The reason for the change, according to state officials, was twofold. Primarily, officials were concerned with the scene depicted on the old flag, which many found offensive. First adopted in 1957, the flag showed a White settler tilling land as an Indigenous man rides horseback. Indigenous members of the State Emblem Redesign Commission said it was harmful to their communities and promoted the "erasure" of their people from the land.

Here's the flag. Enjoy:

Two houses, unalike in dignity...

I'll lead off today with real-estate notices about two houses just hitting the market. In Kenilworth, the house featured at the end of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles can be yours for about $2.6 million. If you'd prefer something with a bit more mystique, the Webster Ave. building where Henry Darger lived for 40 years, now a single-family house, will also soon hit the market for $2.6 million. (That house is less than 300 meters from where my chorus rehearses.)

In other news:

Finally, Industry Ales, the new brewery-taproom at 230 S. Wabash Ave., hopes it survives. So do I. But I'll make sure to get it on the Brews & Choos reviews list very soon.

Another busy day

Getting ready for a work trip on Monday plus (probably) having to do a demo while on the work trip means I spent most of the day getting ready for the demo. In a bit of geography fun, because the participants in the demo will be in six different time zones from UTC-7 (me) to UTC+10 (the client), I got the short straw, and will (probably) attend the demo at 3:30 am PDT.

I say "probably" because the partners on the call may take mercy on me and let me brief them instead of monitoring the technology in the actual meeting. Probably not, though.

So in this afternoon's roundup of news and features, I'll start with:

  • Teresa Carr's report in Undark explaining how people in "eccentric time localities" (i.e., on the western edges of time zones) experience negative effects that people east of them don't.
  • President Biden's budget proposal includes a $350 million grant to extend the CTA Red Line.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the country's most-senior Jewish official, gave a scathing speech in the Senate this morning calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) to resign and hold elections. Josh Marshall puts this in context. (tl;dr: it's a big deal, and Schumer is really the only one in Congress with the heft and history with Israel to make this speech.)
  • US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who faces 18 felony counts in Federal court, may run for re-election as an independent so that he can use his campaign funds to pay his legal bills. Why anyone would give him money to do this I cannot determine.
  • Chevrolet and other car manufacturers routinely hand over data about how you drive to a company that then hands that data to your auto insurer, because the US does not yet have anything like the GDPR.
  • Julia Ioffe outlines how Ukraine can (sort of) win against Russia if it can hold out until 2025.
  • Hopewell Brewing and other Illinois craft brewers have started selling THC-infused beer, taking advantage of a loophole in both the state's brewing and cannabis laws.

I will now check the weather radar to see how wet I'm going to get on the way home...

Ravinia Brewing vs Ravinia Festival

I first visited Ravinia Brewing early in the Brews & Choos Project, and liked it. In fact I have gone back several times, most recently a week ago Friday. I haven't yet visited their Logan Square taproom though, and because of the way trademarks and contracts work in the US, I may never:

In October, Ravinia Festival, the Highland Park outdoor concert venue known for its summer music series, sued the craft brewery for trademark infringement, court records show.

The brewery was born out of the Ravinia District of Highland Park in 2017 and opened its original location there in 2018.

In 2018, the brewery signed an agreement that allowed both parties to use the name, as long as the brewery complied with guidelines to ensure consumers understood there was no relationship between the two organizations.

The lawsuit alleges the brewery violated that agreement.

Brewery co-owners Jeff Hoobler and Kris Walker have called the lawsuit unjust and said the business is rapidly losing money because of legal expenses. They warned the business could close if the company keeps bleeding financially.

I've just read RBC's answer to RF's complaint, which includes the allegations in the complaint as per local rules. As with any lawsuit, we don't know the full story, and as this will probably never go to trial, we probably never will. It looks like the brewery and the Festival have some bad blood between them, for sure. But if the brewery's answer is accurate, this has all the feeling of trying to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer.

I hope the Festival and the brewery can come to a compromise here. I like them both.

Illuminated Brew Works

Welcome to stop #100 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Illuminated Brew Works, 6186 N. Northwest Hwy., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Norwood Park (Zone 2)
Time from Chicago: 22 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

It only took four years and a pandemic to get to the 100th Brews & Choos stop. When I stopped at Macushla in Glenview almost exactly four years ago, I thought I'd knock out all 90 or so breweries and distilleries in about 18 months. We all know what happened a month later...

Here we are at stop #100, and I'm happy to report it garnered a "would go back" rating.

Illuminated Brew Works has a bit of fun with its namesake, even calling its mailing list a "cult." They make really good beer, and they allow dogs, but fortunately no one tried to convert me to Belgian sour ales.

In fact, as I have a touch of bronchitis, I didn't drink much at all. The 120-mL pours I had were excellent. The Brony DDH DIPA (7.5%) was really smooth, and didn't taste at all like the strong beer the menu says it is. And the Millennial Munchies stout (13.5%), which I shared, was complex, sweet but not cloying, with malty coconut and chocolate notes.

I also had a sips of my friend's beers. The CULT stout (10%), which had real complexity but not a lot of sweetness, and the guajillo chiles they brewed it with really smacked me in the end. I didn't feel I could evaluate the Cherry Brainwash sour (7%) and Orange Sunshine Saison (5.4%), as I'm not a fan of those styles, but my friend assured me they were excellent, and particularly liked the cherry sour.

They have a quirky, no-fucks-given vibe that we particularly liked. We may have to bring Cassie and Butters here when it gets warmer.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? Snacks; BYOF encouraged
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Forbidden Root

Welcome to stop #99 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Chicago
Time from Chicago: 8 minutes
Distance from station: 1.1 km

After visiting three breweries on Saturday and having less than a full pint of beer at each, by 5pm we had worked up an appetite for food and for more than a couple sips of beer. So we walked the whole 800 meters from On Tour to Forbidden Root's first restaurant and brewery. (They also own Cultivate, in the Ravenswood Beer Corridor near Inner Drive Technology World HQ.)

Even before the beers, we ordered some beer cheese, which really hit the spot. I don't mean Merkt's out of the plastic container; this is hand-made whipped aged cheddar with a hint of beer and a spicy maple drizzle. On tasting that we also ordered some burrata, with pesto, tomato jam, parmesan chips, and Focaccia.

And then we tried some beers, still keeping our heads clear by sharing 150 mL pours, which worked all the way up until the last one.

The Halfway to Crazy West Coast IPA (6.2%) was halfway to piney, with some fruit, note and a clean, bitter finish that I enjoyed. The Snoochie Boochies double IPA (8%) really hop-slammed me; I noted its "strong, complex, interesting, fruity" flavors but also jotted down "caution required."

But then we tried the Call Your Mom Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout (12.9%). I wrote: "mmmmmmm. Chocolate, toffee, vanilla, all the good things. Yum!" And half an hour later, in the Lyft home, I just wanted to go to sleep. But I also would love to try that beer again, and I regret not taking a bottle home.

Finishing the day at Forbidden Root was exactly the correct choice.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes