The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

It's like a mild cold that can kill your neighbors

On day 3 of my symptomatic Covid-19 experience, I feel about the same as I did yesterday, but more annoyed. It's exactly the kind of day when I would meet friends at a beer garden or outdoor restaurant and not sit inside reading. But I don't want to expose people who can't get vaccinated to possible illness (people who can get vaccinated and choose not to, however...), and after a 3 km walk with Cassie half an hour ago, I really can't do much more than sit and read for a while.

My friends who have gotten this strain in the last six weeks or so report that my experience sounds about right, and I should be through symptoms by Tuesday. And looking ahead at my summer plans, which include a trip to Austin at the end of this month and a trip to the UK at the end of July, plus two opera performances and many afternoons sitting at beer gardens, it turns out this was simply the best weekend for me to miss. Lucky me!

Cassie, on the other hand, seems bored. And she would very much like that squirrel to get just a bit closer:

Maplewood Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #75 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Maplewood Brewery, 2717 N Maplewood Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 1.7 km

I've actually visited Maplewood many times in the past, but not since starting the Brews & Choos project. The pandemic got in the way, especially after it killed Fat Willy's Rib Shack and nearly killed the movie theater around the corner.

I finally returned to the movie theater on Wednesday to see the director's cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Since we did not, in fact, take public transit to get to the movie, we did not take shrooms before watching it as several friends advised. Instead we got beers. I decided on this flight:

I didn't take notes, but I do remember liking all of them. The one second from the right (Son of Juice) and the stout (Fat Pug) were especially tasty. (Note the embankment just across the alley: that's the Union Pacific Northwest Line, so the window seats provide the true railfan with entertainment during rush hour.)

The taproom doesn't have a lot of room but it does have a lot of taps. Plus, Maplewood distills spirits, which (again because I drove) I didn't sample this time.

Beer garden? Sidewalk
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? None
Serves food? Snacks; BYOF while the kitchen is closed
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Mikkeller Bar, San Francisco

Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Mikkeler Bar, 34 Mason St., San Francisco
Train line: BART, Powell
Time from Chicago: about 4½ hours by air
Distance from station: 200 m

While in San Francisco last weekend, I happened across a brewpub that would fit the Brews & Choos ethos perfectly, were it in Chicago. The Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco serves a variety of craft beer, mostly their own Danish brews, but also some American varieties.

I tried three beers, the Weldwerks Mosaic Extra Extra Juicy Bits (DIPA, 8.6%), Mikkeller's Hop Opera NEDIPA (9%), and Mikkeller's Windy Hill (NEIPA, 7%). Of the three, I liked the Windy Hill enough to have a second.

It's an interesting place with a vibe that I assume came from a collision between Denmark and Northern California. It also has some deeply weird elements, like this, which rumor says came from the building's previous owner, presumably after he no longer needed it:

I'm glad I stopped in. Pity, though, that not a lot of breweries in the Bay Area would fit the Brews & Choos Project. But hey, it was a fun surprise.

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

Monday morning round-up

According to my Garmin, I got almost 18 hours of sleep the past two nights, but also according to my Garmin (and my groggy head), few of those hours made a difference. I take some of the blame for that, but on the other hand, someday I want to stay in a hotel room where I can control when the air conditioner turns on and off.

Anyway, while I slept fitfully, these stories passed through my inbox:

And finally, good news for the Brews & Choos Project: Lagunitas plans to re-open their taproom later this year.

Burning Bush Brewery, Chicago

Welcome to stop #74 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Burning Bush Brewery, 4014 N. Rockwell Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Brown Line, Rockwell
Time from Chicago: 35 minutes
Distance from station: 1.5 km

The brewery opened in March 2020, and like others on this list, quickly pivoted to to-go sales. That let them get pretty good at making beers. Yesterday, Cassie and I stopped by the brewery after a 5 km walk to the Horner Park Dog Park just across the river.

I got a flight, naturally, and Cassie found shade under my table, naturally.

(Cassie also pulled on her leash, which I had clipped to the table, just as I set the flight down.)

I started with the Lion's Den Hazy IPA (7%), which had good balance and a long Citra finish. The Walls of Jericho Hazy DDHIPA (7.7%) had less intensity than the Lion's Den, but a really good, smooth, almost malty flavor that I enjoyed. The Smooth Serpent American IPA (7.1%) had a very hoppy, bright flavor with and a refreshing crispness. Then I finished with the Indulgence Stout (8.2%) and its chocolate, vanilla, and caramel flavors that I would have for dessert any day.

The patio doesn't have any shade at all, so I expect it'll be really uncomfortable in the hot months but really great in spring and fall. The large interior space seems welcoming enough, too.

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

Earth Day

Today we celebrate the big rock that gives us days in the first place. One out of 364 is pretty good, I guess. And there are some good stories on my open browser tabs:

Finally, the Defense Department will open a Defense Innovation Unit just down the street from my current office in June. I knew about these plans a couple of years ago when I worked on an unclassified project for the US Military Enrollment Processing Command and was looking forward to it. I'm glad it's finally gotten to Chicago.

Lovely day for a walk (or two)

Cassie and I walked all the way to the Horner Park Dog-Friendly Area yesterday, taking advantage of the 19°C weather and forbearance of rain clouds. We went a little out of our way on the first walk, so I could get a look at what was left of Twisted Hippo Brewing:

Yikes. Still, only one person was injured in the fire, and he's expected to recover completely.

After a 48-minute walk, Cassie ran around like a puppy at the dog park for about 20 minutes:

The return walk took another 45 minutes, after which both dog and man took a nap.

Then this happened overnight:

Well, I mean, it's Chicago in March. We got lucky to have one warm day.

Smylie Bros. Brewing Co., Chicago

Welcome to stop #73 on the Brews and Choos project.

Note: this location closed permanently in September 2022 in what I can only assume was Karmic balancing for Urban Brew Labs closing the week before.

Brewery: Smylie Bros. Lakeview, 3855 N. Broadway, Chicago
Train line: CTA Red Line, Sheridan
Time from Chicago: 20 minutes
Distance from station: 500 m

I guess it was inevitable that I would visit the newest location of what may be my least-favorite brewery so far. Smylie Bros. (who really seem to be dude-bros of the highest order) opened their second brewpup a short walk from Wrigley Field because Wrigleyville just doesn't have enough big, loud bars with mediocre food and unimaginative beer.

A friend who lives just around the corner from the place wanted to try it, so I said fine. We discovered only when we got there that they had a private event going on so there would be a one-hour wait. Notwithstanding that, my friend, who took an oath to do no harm, threw an elbow at the bar to get us two seats. So I guess we committed to getting some food and beer.

Given that their website still uses the WordPress favicon (which I suppose improves upon it being maliciously defaced the last time I reviewed one of their locations), and that they have no social media presence, and that they didn't even have a sign on the door about the private event, I doubt they'll take my advice to post things like that somewhere to avoid having people elbowed out of the way at the bar by angry physicians.

We each had one pint of the Wolcott IPA (6%), imaginatively named after the street in Bowmanville where they actually make their beer, and one pint of the Reluctantly Rad IPA (6.5%, hazy), imaginatively brewed with flaked oats for some reason. They were fine. So was the BBQ chicken pizza (my friend's choice). Fine.

By the time the really bad cover band started playing recognizable songs too loudly, both of us independently decided we had to get out of there. We had our third beers of the evening and a conversation we could both hear around the corner at Wrigleyville North.

Then I walked home and saw that St Mary of the Lake had unfurled the Ukrainian flag, which almost made up for my visit to a brewery I have no intention of ever visiting again.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Everywhere, unavoidable
Serves food? Full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? No
Would go back? No

Moody Tongue Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #72 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Moody Tongue Brewing, 2515 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Green Line, Cermak–McCormick Place
Time from Loop: 6 minutes
Distance from station: 900 m

Moody Tongue surprised everyone when it won two Michelin stars in 2021, in part because of their novel 12-beer parings menu in the dining room. Fortunately for the Brews & Choos Project, they also have a separate bar area, which by itself would qualify for a Bib Gourmand.

I got a reservation for last Thursday, and trudged through Bronzeville during what I hope was Chicago's last significant snowfall of the season. The bar did not disappoint me.

They have 100-mL pours, and I brought a friend, so I got to taste four of their current beers without going broke (or getting intoxicated). That let me enjoy a few of their appetizers as well.

I started with the Caramelized Chocolate Churro Porter (7.0%), with its complex chocolate, red wine, and vanilla notes, about which I wrote "ooooooo!" in my notebook. Next, with my food, I had a 100-mL pour of the Roasted Mocha Scwarzbier (4.9%), which I found lighter than expected, with a clean finish, and a caramel-oaky flavor that only hinted at the espresso they brewed it with. My friend had full pours (that I got to taste) of the Irish Cream Stout (6.6%), a malty and deliciously-balanced dark beer, and the Bourbon Barrel 12 Layer Cake Stout (13.9%), which exploded into chocolate and oaky maltiness that has to be one of the most dangerous beers I've ever had. Despite none of those coming even close to my usual medium-hoppy, English IPA palate, I would drink any one of them again.

And they had food. Oh heavens they had food. I had two appetizers and shared one of my friends', and felt completely satisfied.

Above, on the left, is the smoked beet tartare, with "whipped ricotta, saba, arare, egg yolk jam, and toasted sourdough." My vegetarian friend ate most of that, while I had (on the right) the braised rabbit cavatelli ("Castelvetrano olives, pine nuts, preserved lemon, pecorino"). I wound up using one of the toast points to thoroughly mop up my rabbit. I also had the confit Berkshire pork belly ("smoked pumpkin risotto, bacon, butternut squash, pickled apple, soy caramel chestnuts") and left almost nothing on the plate. My friend also had the roasted lion's mane mushroom entrée, which she enjoyed.

I will, at some point, go back to try the actual Michelin-starred tasting menu. But for $100, the two of us had just the right amount of food and beer, well worth the trip.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? Yes, Michelin-quality
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes