The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Property crime stories that have deeper meanings than I first thought

On this day in 1950, eleven thieves stole $2.7m ($29.8m today) from the Brink's Armored Car depot in Boston. They would have avoided prosecution had they just followed the plan, but the Liddy Rule got them in the end ("three people can keep a secret as long as two of them are dead").

Flash forward 72 years and we find that theft again dominates the news in Los Angeles, as thieves plunder stopped trains outside the intermodal depot in Lincoln Heights. If your package is delayed, it might have helped derail a freight train just down the hill from Dodger Stadium.

Finally, FedEx has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to install anti-missile lasers on its A321-200 cargo jets. I couldn't find statistics about how many airplanes have taken fire from portable missile batteries, but apparently FedEx has enough trepidation about them to want countermeasures on its planes.

I just realized I put those stories in order of increasing chaotic destruction. Hm. More to think about.

Double Clutch Brewing, Evanston

Welcome to stop #69 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Double Clutch Brewing, 2121 Ashland Ave., Evanston
Train line: UP-N, Central Street
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone C)
Distance from station: 800 m

This car-themed brewery opened on October 31st, about 18 months after their originally-planed April 2020 opening. (This has become a theme of the Brews & Choos project.) That gave them enough time to figure out their operations, however, and also to get a foothold in local restaurants and liquor stores.

They specialize in German lagers, with one IPA thrown in for the bourgeoisie like me. And going with the automobile theme, flights come in an engine block:

The Märzen (5.9%) has a lovely golden color, with a lot of malty complexity (pear, honey, raisin) I found a little too malty for my palate. The light and crisp Helles Lager (5.1%) also had a lot of malt, but a hoppier balance I think will taste great on their patio in the summer. The Little Juice Coupe Hazy IPA (5.7%) had a good Citra fruitiness and, yes, still just a little too much sweetness for me. I finished with the really malty Schwartzbier (4.7%) and its intricate coffee and chocolate notes I would go back to. The bartender also asked me to taste the Rausch Märzen, which has a similar recipe to the regular one but with smoked malt. The Rausch tasted like sitting by a fire pit in late October, which is exactly where I want to have another one.

They plan to build an outdoor space in the spring, and they've got weekly trivia and other events. Since it's Evanston, however, dogs won't be allowed until the city elects a new city council.

Finally...Star Wars fans, tell me what's missing from this lineup?

Beer garden? Seasonal
Dogs OK? No, it's Evanston
Televisions? Three, avoidable
Serves food? Full pub menu (try the buffalo balls)
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Goldfinger Brewing, Downers Grove

Welcome to stop #68 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Goldfinger Brewing, 513 Rogers St., Downers Grove
Train line: BNSF, Fairview Ave
Time from Chicago: 43 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 500 m

Goldfinger Brewing opened in July 2020, which really sucked for them. But because they focused on making nothing but high-quality, traditional, Central-European lagers, they attracted an immediate following that kept them going.

Fun fact: Lagers take about three times longer to brew than ales, which explains in part why so many breweries specialize in the latter. The longer brewing times also mean that Goldfinger only has a few taps open at once. When I visited Wednesday evening, they had five of their own plus a visiting beer.

Naturally I had to start with the Original Lager (5.2%, 18 IBU). It had a complex, malty flavor that won me over even though I usually find lagers too sweet. (Theirs wasn't.) The Baltic Porter (7.7%, 28 IBU) caught my attention next, and wow, I almost bought some to take home. It had deep chocolate notes among other robust and complex flavors, with a long, lingering finish. I chased that with their Pils (4.9%, 35 IBU), an excellent representative of the style that I found crisp and fresh with a complex malt and hop interplay that they helped along with a five-minute-long multi-step pouring process. Goldfinger really wants you to take your time with their beers, as they have certainly done so. 

I am disappointed that the Village of Downers Grove doesn't allow dogs inside bars. Apparently the Village allowed dogs in the outside tent Goldfinger erected over the summer, but then they changed their mind and also told them to take down the tent. Suburbs, I swear, they just find new ways of failing at basic human-interaction design every year.

Beer garden? Not unless Downers Grove elects a new village board
Dogs OK? No, because again: stupid village board
Televisions? None
Serves food? BYOF, but they have this pretzel you should try
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Imperial Oak Brewing, Brookfield

Welcome to stop #67 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Imperial Oak Brewing, 9526 Ogden Ave., Brookfield
Train line: BNSF, Congress Park
Time from Chicago: 24 minutes (Zone C)
Distance from station: 200 m

The ugly stepchild of the original Imperial Oak in Willow Springs opened in March after the owners acquired a failing local bar in December 2019. The pandemic didn't hurt them since it took about 15 months to build out the new brewing facility. They have some of the same beers as the original, but almost all of what they sell they brew on-site.

While the original location sits in a hollow along the I&M Canal, the Brookfield location sits along Ogden Avenue between an abandoned strip of small professional offices and a paint store. I went in the early evening, so I missed out on the full glory of the "Village of Brookfield Development Opportunity" next door. At least it's only a parking lot and squishy field from the train station.

They do make decent beers, though. 

I got three 150 mL pours for $8, and enjoyed them. From right to left, I tried (again) the Udderly Black Milk Stout (5.3%, 20 IBU), which had a much better balance and finish than the specimen I tried in Willow Springs last July. The Dave's Pale Ale (5.5%, 40 IBU, and not in any way a trademark concern with Oskar Blues) had a nice, hoppy nose, clean finish with definite Citra notes and more subtle Galaxy flavors. And the Crank It Dank West Coast IPA (7%, 60 IBU) lived up to its branding, with some blammo hops off the first sip, and a grassy flavor that reminded me of grad school for reasons I will not disclose.

The bartender also gave me a taste of Wee Willie's Heavy Scotch Ale (9.4%, 18 IBU), a wonderful, flavorful, caramelful, chocolateful wee heavy that would knock anyone on his ass after two.

I hope the new location succeeds, but it just seems like an ugly building in an ugly location to me. I'd revisit the one in Willow Springs; not the one in Brookfield.

Beer garden? Yes, year-round
Dogs OK? Not since an incident last summer
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? BYOF, but they have snacks
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? No
Would go back? No; but the one in Willow Springs is worth the trip

Cultivate by Forbidden Root, Ravenswood

Welcome to stop #66 on the Brews and Choos project—and the final stop on the Union Pacific North Line!

Brewery: Cultivate by Forbidden Root, 4710 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood
Time from Chicago: 19 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: across the street

Until July 2020, Band of Bohemia occupied the space directly across from the Ravenswood Metra station that Forbidden Root has taken over. Band of Bohemia became the world's first Michelin-starred brewpub in 2018, so its abrupt closing and subsequent bankruptcy saddened Chicago restaurant aficionados. Since then, Moody Tongue has become the world's second Michelin-starred brewpub, earning not one but two stars in 2020.

Cultivate by Forbidden Root seems to want to follow in their footsteps. I snuck in after getting off the train from Kenosha on Saturday and got to see the new space on its opening night.

I only experienced one minor opening-night oddity, when the hostess said yes, I could take the open seat at the bar, and she hoped I would come back soon. I couldn't tell if she were suggesting I come back another night or not, but they served me beer and house-made potato chips, so I guess the latter.

Since I had spent the afternoon on a Brews and Choos Project excursion, I really a couple of tastes. I tried the Footwear Connoiseur, which I found well-made and well-balanced with a long finish, but I can't really say much else about it. The Abstract Concepts had lots of orange and grapefruit flavors; my notes say "not a lot of depth but the surface is great." The Back to the Golden Ale tasted a bit more syrupy than I prefer, but was still not a bad beer.

I will try more of their beers in future.

I get what they're trying to do, and I hope they succeed at it. Looking at the menu, though, after reading each description I found myself saying "but why?" But of course, because they want a Michelin star (or at least a Bib Gourmand placard).

Like I said, I'll revisit them soon. This summer I'll even take Cassie to their 30-seat beer garden when it opens.

Beer garden? Yes, no reservations
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? No
Serves food? Yes, full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Public Craft Brewing, Kenosha

Welcome to stop #65 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Public Craft Brewing, 716 58th St., Kenosha, Wis.
Train line: Union Pacific North, Kenosha
Time from Chicago: 1 hour, 40 minutes (Zone K)
Distance from station: 800 m

As our music director sometimes says with a pained look on his face, "there were a lot of good things in there." So with Public Craft Brewing, which seemed entirely the opposite in many ways from Rustic Road just around the corner. The high ceilings and well-lit seating area felt a lot less intimate than Rustic Road, for starters, though I complement Public Craft on keeping the music low enough that no one had to shout.

I spoke to one server who said the space felt like a furniture store. And then I spoke to another server who said the space was a converted furniture store. They even kept some of the furniture, which looked quite comfy.

I sat at the bar, however, and had a 4-beer flight while chatting with the bartender and his partner. They do make good beers. The Reality Czech Pilsner (5.0%) had more hop flavor than I expected, but still kept the light, clean feel and finish of a good Pils. Strangely, I had no first impression at all of the Bits & Pieces Mosaic IPA (6.1%), but on second tasting I got plenty of hops (but not the hop porn I've come to hate) and a good fruity flavor balance. The Lakeshore Haze New England IPA (5.4%, 14 IBU) had good citrus as one would expect, and a surprising amount of malt flavors. Finally, the Chocolate Birthday Cake Imperial Stout (9.5%) lived up to its name. Wow, that one was a lot of flavor, and like Rustic Road's porter, a good dessert beer.

Beer garden? Sidewalk patio, seasonal
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? None
Serves food? Yes, specializing in tacos
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Maybe

Rustic Road Brewing, Kenosha

Welcome to stop #64 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Rustic Road Brewing, 5706 6th Ave., Kenosha, Wis.
Train line: Union Pacific North, Kenosha
Time from Chicago: 1 hour, 40 minutes (Zone K)
Distance from station: 900 m

Kenosha, Wis., is the end of the line for the Metra Union Pacific North Line. It takes a while to get up there, longer than to any other Metra station. (The South Shore Line isn't a Metra railroad.) Plus, the weekday train schedules make a day trip nigh impossible Monday to Friday. So yesterday I left Cassie to her own devices and hauled on up to the Badger State.

I really liked Rustic Road. The brewery moved into its current downtown storefront in 2018, and seems to have gone out of its way to hire quirky and fun servers and bartenders.

I tried a $9 flight and a decent chicken Caesar salad. First, the Helles Belles Lager (5.1%, 18 IBU) had a not-too-syrupy, well-balanced malt profile and a clean finish, a good expression of the Helles style. The Haze Craze #10 New England IPA (6.1%, 35 IBU) had a slow build to real fruit flavors, some of which came from their experimental BRU-1 hops. The latest Haze Craze (#11, Triple New England IPA, 6.24%, 40 IBU) had tons more hop flavors than #10, and really exploded on the palate. I wound up getting a full pint of it with my salad, because after tasting the Highland Porter (9.1%, 32 IBU) and its huge coffee , vanilla, and chocolate flavors, I realized I had to save that one for dessert.

If I visit Kenosha again, I'll stop in.

Beer garden? Sidewalk patio, seasonal
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? Three, avoidable
Serves food? Yes, full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Winter is coming...

...on Wednesday. And to remind us of this, yesterday didn't get above freezing at my house. It finally went above freezing at 3:04am, according to my thermometer. And at Chicago's official weather station at O'Hare, yesterday was the coldest day since February 21st.

Today won't get too much warmer. Still, in about 90 minutes, I'm taking the Brews & Choos Project out of Illinois for the first time. Kenosha, Wis., has two breweries within a couple of blocks of each other and the Union Pacific North Line's northern terminus. Cassie had a stomach issue on Thursday, which for reasons I won't explain but you can infer, turned out to be a hunk of one of her toys. So she will have a quiet day at home while I almost finish all the stops on the UP-N.

Short-term license agreements

Today is the 50th anniversary of DB Cooper jumping out of a hijacked airplane into the wilds of Washington State. It's also the day I will try to get a Covid-19 booster shot, since I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow that I'd have to cancel if I wind up sleeping all day while my immune system tries to beat the crap out of some spike proteins in my arm.

Meanwhile, for reasons passing understanding (at least if you have a good grasp of economics), President Biden's approval ratings have declined even though last week had fewer new unemployment claims than any week in my lifetime. (He's still more popular than the last guy, though.)

In other news:

Any moment now, my third DevOps build in the last hour will complete. I've had to run all three builds with full tests because I don't always write perfect code the first time. But this is exactly why I have a DevOps build pipeline with lots of tests.

New brewery opening Saturday

I had planned for Saturday to cap off the Union Pacific North Line segment of the Brews & Choos project with a trip up to Kenosha. I'll still visit the now-infamous city this weekend, but it turns out, I'll have one more spot to visit before completing the first entire Metra line:

Elements of Cultivate by Forbidden Root, which opens Saturday, will seem familiar to anyone who set foot in Band of Bohemia during the six-year run for the Michelin-starred restaurant and brewery that carved out one of the most unique niches in American dining before declaring bankruptcy last year.

But Forbidden Root’s second Chicago location aims to create a unique niche of its own after owner Robert Finkel acquired the airy Ravenswood location and everything inside earlier this year at auction.

The makeover for Cultivate by Forbidden Root (4710 N. Ravenswood Ave.) also includes an adjacent taproom and private event space expected to open in December with another 16 draft lines, half of which will be guest taps. Snacks will be served there, but no full meals.

Since the new brewery is directly adjacent to the Ravenswood Metra stop just over a kilometer from my house, I expect to stop in early next week.