The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Horse Thief Hollow, Chicago

Welcome to stop #57 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Horse Thief Hollow, 10426 S. Western Ave., Chicago
Train line: Rock Island, 103rd–Beverly Hills
Time from Chicago: 26 minutes (Zone C)
Distance from station: 1.3 km

About 180 years ago, the low, swampy area where 111th Street meets Vincennes Avenue today provided excellent cover for a band of horse thieves who plagued the farmers far to the south of Chicago. In 2013, Neil Byers opened a restaurant and brewery nearby.

Eight years in, they are worth the trip to the hind end of Chicago. They not only have many tasty beers, but also they have a smoker and lots of pork to smoke in it. I tried their flight, which comprises six 100-mL pours:

I started with the Little Wing Pilsner (5.2%), a crisp, malty lager with a clean finish. Next, the Annexation West Coast IPA (7.2%), bursting with Citra fruitiness and almost a little tartness, a good example of the expression—but my socks stayed on my feet. The Kitchen Sink "Old School" APA (5.7%) was very good, more flavorful than the Annexation but not obnoxiously so. I had two Spoonful double dry-hopped hazy IPAs (6.5%), and found them nice and hoppy with good juiciness and a clean finish. Finally, I tried the Mannish Boy American Stout (5.0%), which was dryer than I expected, with great flavor, and a long hoppy finish I liked.

The pulled pork sandwich did, it turns out, knock my socks off. So did the beer garden, which (alas) will revert to being a parking lot when the weather turns colder.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got pinned down for an hour by a fast-moving but strong thunderstorm. Fortunately they serve beer inside as well. After the storm passed I had about 25 minutes to walk to the Metra, so I took my time strolling through Beverly. About three blocks in, I encountered this guy:

He didn't seem particularly interested in me, though he kept his distance. Instead he rid the neighborhood of at least one rat and carried on with his evening. Thanks, friend fox.

Beer garden? Yes (summer only)
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? A few, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Open Outcry Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #56 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Open Outcry Brewing, 10934 S. Western Ave., Chicago
Train line: Rock Island, 111th–Morgan Park
Time from Chicago: 30 minutes (Zone C)
Distance from station: 1.1 km

Yesterday I snuck out of the office before sunset and headed out to Tinley Park to see the new beer garden at Banging Gavel Brews. Despite my very careful reading of train schedules to visit three Rock Island Line stops in one evening, I did not read Banging Gavel's website carefully enough, and wound up spending 21 minutes wandering around the Tinley Park Metra station feeling kind of dumb.

It turned out, the mistake allowed me to spend more time at Open Outcry and Horse Thief Hollow. So did the violent thunderstorm. It was a fun evening.

Anyway, I don't know if or when I've ever visited the Morgan Park neighborhood on Chicago's far South Side, but I will have to go back. Open Outcry Brewing opened in 2017 on what has to be the only semi-attractive stretch of Western Avenue in Chicago. (Seriously, the longest street in Chicago may also be its ugliest.)

They have a huge rooftop beer garden, and I had no trouble getting a seat in the shade overlooking the street.

They have flights for only $9, so naturally I tried a few:

From left to right, I tried the Self Regulator New England Pale Ale (5.5%), a juicy, fruity, Citra forward pale that wasn't too hoppy; the Fresh Hopped Louis Winthorpe NEIPA (7.2%), a yummy balanced hazy beer with big flavor and a great finish; the Open Interest NEIPA (6.3%), which had a little more hop and fruit than the Winthorpe; and the Dark Pool Russian Imperial Milk Stout (10.5%), whose coffee and chocolate flavors hit like a brick wrapped in gold foil. That last one is a very dangerous beer. And the guests at the next table had a small pizza that I will have to try.

They don't allow dogs except for the three tables along the sidewalk, so call first to make sure you can get one. Also, the rooftop is open all winter, with a half-dozen heated yurts (reservations required).

Beer garden? Yes (rooftop)
Dogs OK? Not really
Televisions? A few, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Entering Beverly

The Brews & Choos Project continues this evening with a short trip to the South Side. Beverly (probably named after the one in Massachusetts) became one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods in the mid-20th century, and remains so today. I would call it the most North Side-like part of the South Side. (I'll also visit Morgan Park, just a little below 107th Street.)

To celebrate this occasion, enjoy this fun ditty by John Forster:

Greenstar Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #55 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Greenstar Brewing, 3800 N. Clark St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Red Line, Addison
Time from Chicago: 18 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m

The local organic restaurant pair Uncommon Ground brews organic beer at its Wrigleyville location just a block from Wrigley Field. Since 2011 they've brewed good beer and served it alongside decent food, offering a grown-up alternative to the Kindergarten bars around the ball park.

A couple of friends joined Cassie and me on Friday. They don't usually drink beer, but the server brought us tastes of the Oktoberfest (5.5%) they just tapped. I also had a flight while they had cocktails. We all had food.

I started with the ZCF ("Zero Carbon Footprint") Pilsner (second from right, 5.1%), a flavorful, complex, and malty expression of the style. Next I tried the Certifiable American Pale Ale (right, 4.6%), a light and not-too-hoppy, not-too-fruity malt I'd give to someone just learning to like good beers. Third from right was the Gabba Gabba Haze pale ale (5.5%), bursting with Citra hop fruitiness and a lot of malt, with the wheat and oats providing even more sweetness. I finished on the left with the Spaceship IPA (6.9%), a very fruity Citra bomb that still had a lot of malt in it.

Altogether, I found Head Brewer Brandon Stern's palate a bit too sweet for my taste. All the beers tasted good, and solidly demonstrated their styles, but all of them had more malt than hop in the balance. I would like to have seen a dryer pale or India pale in the mix.

They have an airy and comfortable sidewalk area that extends out into Grace Street just far enough from the children returning from the afternoon's Cubs game.

And while we had dinner, Cassie made a new friend (11-month-old Bluebottle), playing with her for about 90 minutes until we had to leave.

Beer garden? Sidewalk
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? None
Serves food? Yes, full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Lunchtime lineup

It's another beautiful September afternoon, upon which I will capitalize when Cassie and I go to a new stop on the Brews & Choos Project after work. At the moment, however, I am refactoring a large collection of classes that for unfortunate reasons don't support automated testing, and looking forward to a day of debugging my refactoring Monday.

Meanwhile:

And now, more refactoring.

Sketchbook Brewery, Evanston (revisit)

I have stopped at Sketchbook's Evanston taproom about half a dozen times since it became stop #8 on the Brews and Choos project. This past Sunday, I mis-timed a trip to Temperance Beer Co., so why not try stop at one of my favorite taprooms? I mean, I suppose I could have walked 25 minutes through this:

Instead, I tried two of Sketchbook's beers that I hadn't had before, recommended by the ever-helpful Beesy. Knowing my palate, she suggested the Day Game American IPA (6%, 67 IBU), the lower-alcohol version of their stalwart Night Game DIPA. The big ol' Mosaic hop flavor gets a smoothing finish from a drop of honey. I loved it.

I also had a taste of the Orange Door Double Dry-Hopped IPA (7.2%, 76 IBU), a big, Citra-forward explosion of orange, lemon, and grapefruit, that I found completely refreshing on such a hot day.

I will probably revisit a few breweries now and then, starting with Lake Bluff Brewing Co., which I plan to visit next weekend. That said, I have 56 more new places to visit. I'll get there.

Temperance Beer Co., Evanston

Welcome to stop #54 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Temperance Beer Co., 2000 Dempster St., Evanston
Train line: CTA Purple Line, Dempster
Time from Chicago: 34 minutes (longer on weekends)
Distance from station: 1.8 km

I've made an exception to the "within 1500 meters" rule for Temperance. I almost always have some Gatecrasher IPA in my fridge, so I couldn't simply ignore one of my favorite breweries just because it takes an extra three minutes to get there.

I finally visited yesterday despite the 34°C temperatures and mis-timing these two small thunderstorms:

The blue dot shows me at Howard Street, waiting to change to the Purple Line, looking off to the west and wondering how long it would take for them to pass. I decided to stop in Evanston before continuing on to Temperance; more on that in a subsequent post.

Once I got to Temperance, I settled in with a brisket sandwich from the Goodstuff Eats food truck parked outside and a flight of four beers.

From left to right: first, the Gatecrasher English-Style IPA (6.6%), my go-to Temperance beer, with a lovely malty-hoppy combination that reminds me of English pubs. Next, the All the World is Here Double-Hopped Cream Ale (5%), which I found malty and refreshing, but not too sweet. The Oktoberfest Marzen-style lager (5.7%) was an excellent example of the style, with a lot of complex flavor for a lager. Finally, the Escapist American IPA (6.7%) had big hops, big flavor, and a malty finish. I'll supplement my next Gatecrasher purchase with some of that.

The only downside: the City of Evanston doesn't allow dogs in beer gardens, even when the establishment doesn't serve food. So while I would happily go back to Temperance, especially if they have a concert night, I'll take Cassie to Sketchbook in Skokie when I'm meeting friends in the suburbs.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No (city rule)
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, but watch for food trucks
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

How is it already 4pm?

I have opened these on my Surface at work, but I'll have to read them at home:

Finally, Empirical Brewery has a new line of beer that supports Tree House Cats at Work. I'll try some and let you know.

Dovetail Brewery, Chicago

Welcome to stop #53 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Ave., Chicago
Train line: UP North, Ravenswood (also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 13 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 1.3 km (Metra), 300 m (CTA)

I know, I know, I should have posted about Dovetail months ago. I mean, Dovetail and Begyle (stop #15) are less than 100 meters apart, and until recently both had dog-friendly policies. But on the day I visited Begyle for the Brews and Choos Project, Begyle had room for Parker and me, but Dovetail was jammed wall to wall. So I went up to Ravinia (sans dog) instead. That was 22 February 2020. Both Begyle and Dovetail shut down shortly after because of the pandemic.

So finally last Sunday, a friend and I wanted to take our dogs to a place where we could get a pint, and Dovetail fit the bill for both location and dog-friendliness. So finally last Sunday, I got a pint at Dovetail.

I need to point out two things about Dovetail's beers: first, they are really well made and delicious, my friends assure me. Let me repeat: these are great beers. They really do "produce beer of the highest quality similar to the level of craftsmanship found in fine woodworking" while "merging continental European styles and techniques with American creativity to produce the kind of beers found in small, family-run breweries in Europe," as their website says.

Exhibit: on tap as of this writing they offer an oak-smoked wheat beer, a Hefeweizen, a Kölsch, a Maibock, a Rauchweizen, a Cab Franc, a Fraise, a Framboise, a Kriek, etc.

But, you see, to my second point: they don't brew the Anglo-American styles that I like at all.

So when friends visit me from Europe, I take them to Dovetail. If I want to impress someone who likes Belgian beer with the best examples brewed in the U.S., I will give them Dovetail. But if I want to read a book while sipping a pale ale while Cassie watches the world go past, I'll go to Spiteful, Half Acre, Urban Brew Labs, or Empirical. (Also, Dovetail's beer garden is right next to the El, so conversation has to stop every few minutes while the El goes past and Cassie goes boyang.)

And that's OK. I like that Dovetail does really difficult beers really well. I appreciate them. I just prefer different beers.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, but watch for food trucks
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Dry City Brew Works, Wheaton

Welcome to stop #52 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Dry City Brew Works, 120 N. Main St., Wheaton
Train line: UP West, Wheaton
Time from Chicago: 51 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 500 m

Just as Methodist-founded Northwestern University in Evanston kept that city dry from the 1850s until 1972, Wheaton College had the same effect on the DuPage County Seat until 1984. Dry City Brew Works celebrates (?) this history with their quirky taproom (and live music!) right on Main Street.

I planned to meet a local friend for dinner in Wheaton, and Dry City doesn't have sample sizes, so I only had one beer: the Cosmic Cryo DIPA (7.5%). It had bang-on Citra hops right away, with all their grapefruit and mango notes, good malt balance, and a crisp finish I really enjoyed. I also had a couple sips of my friend's Pollinator Saison/Farmhouse Ale (5.8%), a well-made specimen of the type, which I liked even though I typically don't like Saisons.

Next time Cassie and I visit my friend and her dog, we might stop for a pint at Dry City.

Beer garden? Yes
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