The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Fifteen minutes of voting

Even with Chicago's 1,642 judges on the ballot ("Shall NERDLY McSNOOD be retained as a circuit court judge in Cook County?"), I still got in and out of my polling place in about 15 minutes. It helped that the various bar associations only gave "not recommended" marks to two of them, which still left 1,640 little "yes" ovals to fill in.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world...

Finally, Chicago gets a new brewery taproom on Thursday when Hop Butcher to the World opens in Half Acre's former Lincoln Avenue space, just over 2 km from my house. Cassie and I might find out on Saturday whether they let dogs in, assuming the forecast holds. (And there it is: a post that literally checks all the boxes for Daily Parker categories!)

Why Empirical closed

I reported Saturday that Empirical Brewery, one of my favorite hang-outs just 400 meters from my new house, closed unexpectedly on Sunday. Block Club Chicago's Alex Hernandez found out why:

Empirical Brewery was booted from its building and abruptly shut down over the weekend following a months-long legal battle in which the landlord said the company did not pay its rent for several months this year, according to court records.

Hayes Properties, which owns the Foster Avenue building, served Empirical owner Bill Hurley with a five-day notice in May for the brewery to pay just over $16,496 in unpaid rent, or else the lease would be terminated, court documents show.

The landlord then moved to evict Empirical in June, court records show. In that filing, attorneys said the brewery owners owed back rent from Jan. 1 through May 19.

Cook County Judge Theresa M. Smith Conyers granted the eviction request in August, giving Empirical until Sept. 6 to move out of the Foster Avenue building.

The landlord went back to court Sept. 8, saying the brewery was still operating in the space. The landlord asked the court to enforce the eviction, and order Empirical to pay back rent, rent for every month they continued to occupy the building and attorneys fees. In all, Empirical owed about $30,600, court records show.

I'm sorry it went down like that. I hope the employees find new work quickly. And this does increase the likelihood that another brewery will move in. One can hope, anyway.

Packing day

As far as I know, I'm moving in 2½ weeks, though the exact timing of both real-estate closings remain unknown. Last time I moved it took me about 38 hours to pack and 15 to unpack. This time I expect it to go faster, in part because I'm not spending as much time going "oh, I love this book!"

I'm taking a quick break and catching up on some reading:

Finally, a new survey says Chicagoans swear a lot less than most Americans, with people from Columbus, Ohio, swearing the most. Fuck that shit.

Two brewery closings this month

One of my favorites (and Cassie's), Urban Brew Labs, closed on September 10th due to inadequate beer sales. They ran out of my favorite brew a couple of weeks earlier but I still managed to get there on the 9th to wish them luck.

In a bit of Karmic balancing, Smylie Brothers closed their awful Lakeview location (on my birthday of all things!), for no apparent reason. I mean, my hypothesis would have to include the food and beer, but owner Michael Smylie declined to comment when Block Club Chicago asked about it.

That still leaves almost 140 breweries and distilleries on the Brews & Choos Project list, including 63 I've yet to visit. And I plan to, with somewhat more vigor after I move next month.

Banging Gavel Brews, Tinley Park

Welcome to stop #77 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Banging Gavel Brews, 6811 Hickory St., Tinley Park
Train line: Rock Island District, Tinley Park
Time from Chicago: 35 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 100 m

The owners of Banging Gavel Brews opened a beer garden at the historic Vogt House in Tinley Park to get people interested in their beers while they restore the house. Since they have an abbreviated beer list at the moment, and they expect to open the brewpub proper next spring, I have an abbreviated review, and will revisit the place since it doesn't require walking through suburban hell. (More on that later this week.)

I had only one of their beers, the Prop 65 West Coast IPA (6%). The joke, if you haven't seen it before, is that California's Proposition 65 requires a warning when the environment contains cancer-causing chemicals. Whether this beer causes cancer I can't know for sure, but I thought it was OK, if a bit thin.

Regardless of what I think of Tinley Park (at least the suburban hellscape west of Harlem Ave.), they have a decent train station just a few meters from the brewery.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? No
Serves food? Partners with the place next door
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes, when they open the full brewpub

Soundgrowler Brewing, Tinley Park

Welcome to stop #76 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Soundgrowler Brewing, 8201 W. 183rd St., Tinley Park
Train line: Rock Island District, Tinley/80th
Time from Chicago: 37 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 1.4 km

When I visited Hailstorm Brewing in March 2021, I really should have gone to Soundgrowler next, as they're just a short walk from each other and I'd never have to go to their industrial park in Tinley Park again. They're both great in their own ways, don't get me wrong; but now that I've visited and walked through the west part of Tinley Park twice, I'm in no hurry to return. More on that in a future post (or if you prefer, one from 18 months ago).

Soundgrowler bills itself as "Beer, Tacos, Metal," which I can confirm from my visit. To the mellifluous strains of Thou's "Inward" and other much-beloved death-metal ditties, I had a flight of excellent beer and two satisfying tacos.

I started with the Small Poems Vienna lager (5%): smooth, malty, with a clean finish; well-done. The Jaguar Elixir APA (5%) had a hazy, light-straw color, lots of hop but not overwhelming amounts, and a refreshing finish. I'd drink that one on a hot day. The excellent Orange Haze West Coast IPA (7%), their flagship beer, burst out with fruity hops, and lingered with a long, malty, citrusy finish. I ended with their limited-release Bending Blades West Coast Imperial IPA (8%) and its big-ass hops and a citrus-without-Citra flavor. I'd get any of them again.

I'll go back at some point, possibly if I ever need to visit the south suburbs for some other reason, and I'll get more delicious $3 tacos.

Beer garden? Seasonal
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? No
Serves food? Tacos and other Mexican food
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

More neighborhood closures

One of my favorite local breweries, Urban Brew Labs, will close when it runs out of beer in the next week or so:

Owner James Moriarty announced on Instagram the brewery and taproom, 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave., will close by the end of the summer. Moriarty did not give a specific end date for the business, but thanked fans, neighbors and employees for keeping the business going for so long. 

“We’ll keep the lights on as long as we have beer to serve, but this will be our final summer season,” Moriarty wrote. 

Moriarty told Block Club in an email the closure is due to a lack of sales.

“It’s unfortunate, but we just didn’t have enough traction [through] distribution,” he said, in the email.

I tried to help, Jim. I really did. And I'll miss y'all.

Meanwhile, I'm taking advantage of some beautiful weather on the last Friday of summer to add two more entries to the Brews & Choos list. Stay tuned.

Cassie wants to go outside

So I'm going to have to postpone reading all of these:

And Cassie, who has not actually had much patience the last few minutes, will now get a walk.

Friday night, Saturday afternoon

More photos from last weekend. I mentioned The Samuel Palmer in Shoreham, Kent, where I stopped after my hike through the Kentish Downs. I didn't mention that I had a delightful cheese plate for dinner, because cheese:

Then I got to experience four Chicago blocks' worth of an English country road at 10:30pm getting to the railway station:

On Saturday, I walked along the Regent's Canal on my way to the Southampton Arms:

Which remains, as ever, one of my favorite pubs in the world:

I will return to all of these places in due course.

Friday's hike (and pubs)

I started Friday by having lunch with a colleague in the picture-perfect Hare & Billet in Greenwich:

After lunch I hopped a Southeast service to Otford, Kent, where I embarked on the 6.5 km hike I mentioned Saturday morning. Otford looks like something out of a Brontë novel (either sister), surrounded by farms and walking paths. And sheep:

The village also sits in what I believe is a washout valley bisecting a long moraine known as the Kentish Downs. After a 75-meter climb, I got to this vista:

About 3 km of the walk looked like that. At the end of the ridge the trail sloped into the village of Shoreham, which made by brain hurt. I think I want to retire there:

I ended my journey at The Samuel Palmer, which opened in 2019 in a building continuously operated as a pub since the 15th century. Somehow, this village of 2,000 people supports three pubs, but I only stopped in this one. I might have to try all of them next time I visit the UK.

More photos later this week. Meanwhile, I've got to figure out a tricky security configuration and rehearse Mozart for the rest of the day.