The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Obscurity Brewing, Elburn

Welcome to stop #81 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Obscurity Brewing, 113 W. North St., Elburn
Train line: Union Pacific West, Elburn
Time from Chicago: 85 minutes (Zone I)
Distance from station: 1.2 km

Elburn, Ill., is the end of the line for the Union Pacific West line. The station opened in 2006, extending the line past Geneva for the first time since the Chicago & North Western ceased intercity train service in 1971. In fact, when the last C&NW train pulled into Elburn 51 years ago, it stopped right at what is now the Obscurity Brewing Co.

Obscurity opened in the summer of 2020, after I'd already visited Penrose Brewing, at that point the farthest western Brews & Choos stop. They have two notable features: really good BBQ, and lots of honey, which makes sense as they have a sister location just across Main St. that makes mead and honeyed ciders. (Unfortunately, the mead hall only opens after 5pm on Fridays, so I'll have to stop back in Elburn some Saturday or Sunday when the train schedules work out better.)

I ordered a flight of four very different styles and a brisket sandwich. Starting at the top left, I tried the Train with Square Wheels milk stout (5%), a smooth, subtle, chocolatey pour with a clean finish. The American Pilsner (bottom left, 5.2%) would refresh me on a hot day, with its nice balance of malt and hops. The Good Kiss Braggot IPA (top right, 6.5%) had a sweetness I didn't expect and pretty subtle hop notes for an IPA, but I learned that "braggot" means they brewed it with honey. The Launch Juice hazy IPA (bottom right, 6.7%) was my favorite of the four, with nice Citra notes of grapefruit and pear, with a lingering finish and delicious mouthfeel.

I also sampled the Nemesis Cider (not pictured, 5%), which had lots of flavor: honeycrisp apple, pear, and a few other notes, sweet without cloying.

I would go back for the brisket, too.

And I love that they lean into the Metra theme:

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, unavoidable
Serves food? Really good BBQ
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes


Photo: The Elburn Metra station with its one train waiting to head back to Chicago.

Quiet Saturday morning

The storm predicted to drop 100 mm of snow on Chicago yesterday missed us completely. That made my Brews & Choos research a lot more pleasant, though I did tromp all over the place in heavy boots that I apparently didn't need. Of course, had I not worn them, I would now be writing about my cold, wet socks.

So while I'm getting two reviews together for later this week, go ahead and read this:

Finally, author John Scalzi celebrates the 25th anniversary of his domain name scalzi.com, exactly one month before I registered my own. But as I will point out again in a couple of posts later this spring, The Daily Parker started (as braverman.org) well before his blog. Still, 25 years is a long time for a domain to have a single owner.

Use-it-or-lose-it PTO, plus the oncoming storm

My company distributes each employee's paid time off (PTO) by distributing a certain number of hours of per half-month pay period. The hours accumulate in a bank that the employee can tap into at any time. Salaried employees can spend it in half-day increments, making it a straightforward arithmetic problem to see how much time off one has available.

There is, of course, a catch: At some point, you hit your maximum number of PTO hours, and it stops accruing. I will be at that point on the 31st of this month.

So, today, I'm taking a day off, and will use it to perform necessary research for the Brews & Choos Project.

There is, of course, a catch:

Yeah. That crap is slowly moving northeast and looks likely to hit Chicago in a couple of hours.

Well, I'll be on trains for a while, and the places I'm visiting are pretty close to the stations. And I can always adjust the plan on the fly. But it does look like I'll get a bit of snow.

Anyway, look for a couple of Brews & Choos entries this weekend.

Dreary Monday afternoon

The rain has stopped, and might even abate long enough for me to collect Cassie from day camp without getting soaked on my way home. I've completed a couple of cool sub-features for our sprint review tomorrow, so I have a few minutes to read the day's stories:

Finally, Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse hope to tap into National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act funds to turn their organization's namesake into a museum. That would be cool.

Rauner's offenses against the people

After standing on the Ravenswood Metra platform for 10 minutes in 40 km/h winds and blowing rain, I hearby sentence former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to 100 days of standing on said platform without an umbrella or waterproof shoes for the offense cutting off funding to all Illinois transportation projects for 3 years in a fit of ideological pique and general lack of empathy for anyone else.

Each instance of Rauner's prickishness causing suffering and inconvenience to the citizens of Illinois shall be a separate and distinct offense.

Basically, I want him to live out the remainder his life stuck in traffic, getting soaked on "temporary" train platforms, and failing to find shelter for the night because so many homeless shelters closed for lack of funds on his watch.

Broken Tee Brewing Co., Highwood

Welcome to stop #80 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Broken Tee Brewing Co., 406 Green Bay Rd., Highwood
Train line: Metra UP-North, Highwood
Time from Chicago (Ogilvie): 52 minutes
Distance from station: Across the street

Broken Tee, the newest brewery in Lake County, opened over Labor Day weekend—the weekend before Urban Brew Labs closed down. But while Broken Tee requires a longer train trip than UBL did, I found it worth the trip.

I met an old friend for a beer and a bite last Friday. I only tried two 10 oz. pours (they do flights too), because I apparently have a cold, and they were both quite good. The One Hop N Bite IPA (6.9%) "showcases the Idaho7 hop variety." It's got a good nose, clean finish, and a bit of fruit and bitterness almost like a more-subtle Citra-hopped beer. I also tried the Range Session IPA (5.5%), a nice, rounded, balanced IPA, not too hoppy, but definitely a bit too strong to call itself a "session" IPA for real.

The space is cute, with a separate dining room and a nook off the main bar area. I also recommend the fried elote cheese bites dipped in chipotle aioli. My friend had the hot chicken sandwich in about 40 seconds, pronouncing it "delicious."

When they open their beer garden later this spring, I can see meeting some suburban friends at Broken Tee for lunch followed by a walk to Kings and Convicts for another pint.

Beer garden? Opening Spring 2023
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? 1, avoidable
Serves food? Yes, pub food
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Why doesn't the AP want me to give them money?

I spent way more time than I should have this morning trying to set up an API key for the Associated Press data tools. Their online form to sign up created a general customer-service ticket, which promptly got closed with an instruction to...go to the online sign-up form. They also had a phone number, which turned out to have nothing to do with sales. And I've now sent two emails a week apart to their "digital sales" office, with crickets in response.

The New York Times had an online setup that took about five minutes, and I'm already getting stuff using Postman. Nice.

Meanwhile:

Finally, I've got a note on my calendar to check out the Karen's Diner pop-up in Wrigleyville next month. Because who doesn't want to be abused by servers?

When, in the corset of human events...

Let's start with combat-actor Jill Bearup explaining how the Netflix-ITV-BBC ban on corsets solves entirely the wrong problems:

Meanwhile, in the modern world:

Finally, I missed an anniversary yesterday. On 22 February 2003, Saturday Night Live aired this bit of Tina Fey's genius:

Taking a break from heads-down coding

I spent the morning going over an API for standards and style, which will result in an uncomfortably large commit before I leave the office today. I prefer smaller, more focused commits, but this kind of polishing task makes small code changes all over the place, and touches lots of files.

So while I have my (late) lunch, I'm taking a break to read some news:

Finally, the Securities and Exchange Commission has fined the Mormon Church $5m for failing to disclose its holdings as required by law. As the Church has some $32 billion in holdings worldwide, that $5m fine will sure sting.

Big sprint release, code tidy imminent

I released 13 stories to production this afternoon, all of them around the app's security and customer onboarding, so all of them things that the non-technical members of the team (read: upper management) can see and understand. That leaves me free to tidy up some of the bits we don't need anymore, which I also enjoy doing.

While I'm running multiple rounds of unit and integration tests, I've got all of this to keep me company:

Finally, you may not want to know what the CBP beagle squad has found in baggage at O'Hare.