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Sunday 15 February 2015

Since last report, I've spent time at two bars known for their craft beer selection. Even though I've seriously reduced my beer intake for a variety of reasons (especially its effect on my Fitbit numbers), spending a couple of days away from home let me feel a certain license in my consumption.

Friday night, therefore, I found Kaschk, a Swedish-owned pub on the fringes of the Mitte district in the former East Berlin. Within a few moments of entering I knew I'd come to the right place:

Old Rasputin on draft? And what's this Brewfist Spaceman pale—Italian?

After a 90-minute conversation with the manager, Rab (yes, Rab: he's Scots), I actually accepted that somewhere in Italy someone knows how to make small-batch craft beer.

Then, last night, back to Southampton Arms, we had a rare (for Saturday night) sighting of Fred the Bar Bitch:

And as Southampton Arms is a true pub, the evening wound up with me and a very cool couple (Chris and Jess) closing the place down before I hit the Night Bus back to my hotel. After that began a disappointing and ultimately futile search for kebab. No matter; it was a great evening, with a limited number of very tasty beers, including Redemption Big Chief Ale.

And now I'm back at Heathrow, with a 20-minute walk to my gate commencing in just a moment. Then Chicago, then routine. And less beer.

Sunday 15 February 2015 15:45:17 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Best Bars | London | Travel#
Thursday 29 January 2015

I may have time to read these over the weekend. Possibly.

In other news, J's Lincoln Park will close Sunday night, the owner having sold his lease to Bank of America. So our dog-friendly Euchre nights will have to move uptown a bit. I'm happy for the owner, but kind of sad that one of the last dog-friendly bars in my neighborhood is closing.

Back to creating a separate code repository for contractors...and other things...

Thursday 29 January 2015 11:57:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Best Bars | Kitchen Sink | US | World | Travel#
Monday 22 December 2014

My vacation officially began at 12:20 this afternoon when I turned in my laptop and badge to West Monroe. I have exactly one day of vacation more than required to burn down PTO until the end of the year, plus I have some final Christmas shopping to do, so I have returned to my old remote office for a moment:

In reality, I'm not going to do nothing on my vacation. Someday I'll have two weeks off with pay and no responsibilities, but starting a job as CTO isn't like starting other jobs. I'm already working with my staff and CEO to start 2015 at full throttle. At least with the holidays, and going out to see the nephews, and a 2½-day week leading up to New Year's Eve, I can warm up behind the pace car before gunning it on the 5th.

I'm still formulating my 2015 resolutions. That said, the forecast out by the P's this week lets me state one goal out loud: 25,000 Fitbit steps Wednesday or Thursday. And a ton of food.

Monday 22 December 2014 14:55:14 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Best Bars | San Francisco | Travel | Work#
Saturday 25 October 2014

The Nag's Head, Angel:

Coincidentally, this pub has the same name as my go-to pub when I lived in Hoboken, N.J., 15 years ago.

Saturday 25 October 2014 12:11:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Best Bars | London | Photography#
Saturday 20 September 2014

My friend is getting married in just over four hours, right around the time some weather is due to move in. So I'm going for a walk while I can.

Yesterday I took the hotel desk clerk's recommendation for lunch at Greenbush Brewery in Sawyer, Mich. Yum, both to the food and to the beer. I'm looking forward to having more of the latter back home.

Saturday 20 September 2014 11:54:52 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Best Bars | Geography | Travel#
Monday 11 August 2014

Crain's has a good summary today of new moderate-alcohol beers that craft brewers in the area are making:

In June, Temperance Beer Co. released the first batch of Greenwood Beach Blonde, a creamy ale that checks in at 4 percent alcohol. The beer became the Evanston brewery's second-most popular, and the first batch sold out so quickly at Temperance's taproom that owner Josh Gilbert decided to broaden his focus: When Temperance made a second batch last week, it was immediately canned and sent to distributors.

The session-beer trend isn't limited to upstart microbreweries. Some of the largest craft breweries—including Founders Brewing Co. of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Deschutes Brewery Inc. of Bend, Oregon; and Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, California, whose Midwest and East Coast operations are based in Douglas Park—now are making ales with less than 5 percent alcohol content year-round.

Premier local breweries such as 3 Floyds Brewing Co. of Munster, Indiana, and Two Brothers Brewing Co. in Warrenville are marketing session brews, and this summer Half Acre Beer Co. in Chicago's North Center neighborhood collaborated on a session ale with a brewery in Maine. The king of lagers, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, is filling out its line of ballpark beers with Endless IPA from Goose Island, a limited-run ale with a 5 percent alcohol content.

I've had a couple of these, including Lagunitas All-Day IPA and even the InBev Endless IPA. I've also written about English craft beers that fall into the American "session" category because most English beers are 5% or so anyway. Even my go-to Belhaven Twisted Thistle is only 5.3% ABV.

I always knew the hop-and-high-alcohol fetish beers would give way in time to much more drinkable brews. I'm glad the market has responded so quickly and affirmatively.

Monday 11 August 2014 12:16:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Best Bars | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | London#
Sunday 23 March 2014

It's 11pm on Sunday and everything is closed, so I'm taking a break from my break. My body still seems to think it's on Chicago time, which will help me rejoin American civilization on Tuesday, though at the moment it means my body thinks it's 6pm and wonders what it will do for the next three and a half hours or so.

I have accomplished what I set out to do this weekend. I visited the British Museum, the Southampton Arms, and another pub a friend recommended, The Phoenix. I've also finished Clean Coder, read Snow Crash cover to cover, and have gotten mostly through High Fidelity. The last book in the list connects Chicago and London—specifically, Camden and Gospel Oak, two neighborhoods I spent time in this weekend—more completely than any other book I can think of.

Tomorrow evening (morning? it's hard to tell) I'm flying out on a 787, about which I will certainly have something to write. I'm quite jazzed about it.

Now, back to Nick Hornby...

Sunday 23 March 2014 23:11:47 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Aviation | Best Bars | London | Travel#
Sunday 5 January 2014

I've gone to my remote office to do some work. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me sit in the beer garden:

Fortunately, I found an acceptable seat inside:

My real office is closed tomorrow because no one wants to commute on the coldest day since 1995. I hope something is open. Or at least, I hope someone delivers.

Sunday 5 January 2014 16:07:15 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Best Bars | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Friday 8 November 2013

Colin Cameron, owner of Duke of Perth (my remote office) told me a couple weeks ago that this was in the works, but swore me to secrecy. Now that it's in Crain's, it's out there:

If you've been mourning the loss of La Creperie since it closed Aug. 22 when its owner retired, take heart: The iconic little French bistro at Clark and Diversey is scheduled to reopen, most likely in December.

Duke of Perth proprietors Colin Cameron, his cousin Jack Crombie and Jack's wife, Pam, have purchased the property from Germain Roignant, who opened the restaurant in 1972 with his late wife, Sara.

Mr. Roignant's son, Jeremy, and his wife, Yasmina Ksikes, who'd managed La Creperie for the past five years, intended to take the concept and name with them to Los Angeles. That changed with Jeremy's death from a heart attack on Aug. 1.

Mr. Roignant, now 75, says that when Mr. Crombie first asked him about becoming a partner in reopening the restaurant, he was hesitant because he'd been planning to retire to his home in Brittany, France. “But I hadn't been happy about the place closing after 41 years,” he says, “and when we hinted on our Facebook page that it might reopen, we got a very positive reaction from customers.”

Now a partner, Mr. Roignant says he'll probably work the dining room Wednesday through Sunday evenings and some afternoons. He won't be the only familiar face—he estimates that four dining room staffers are returning. Juan Aranda, who started as a dishwasher/prep cook/busboy in 1991 and was promoted to head cook two years later, will be back in the kitchen. This is a plus, since he knows all the recipes, which haven't been written down.

One of my favorite pubs buying one of my favorite restaurants? Perfect.

Friday 8 November 2013 14:59:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Best Bars | Cubs#
Saturday 21 September 2013

I'm starting a new post series born out of frustration with existing restaurant and search tools. Simply put, most entertainment sites (e.g., Yelp) don't have easy ways of searching for good places to have a beer while working.

Anyone who's read The Daily Parker knows I usually have a "remote office." Often, after regular working hours, I relocate from my regular office to a quiet bar to do another hour or two of work. Right now my remote office is Duke of Perth, where I wrote much of the Inner Drive Extensible Architecture and good hunks of other projects.

Right now, the Duke of Perth is clearly my favorite place to work. What makes it so?

Location: Notwithstanding its objective characteristics, it's a favorite because it's only one click from my house. My other remote offices have been similarly proximate to my daytime offices or my homes.

No TVs: TVs distract me from reading, writing, and talking with people. Plus they're ugly. Duke of Perth doesn't have a single TV anywhere.

Beers: I like to sip a medium-hop, moderate-alcohol pale ale when working. Duke of Perth has Belhaven Twisted Thistle, a well-balanced British IPA that clocks in at 5.3% ABV and around 45 IBUs.

Food: The Duke has a good spread of Scottish pub food (including, yes, haggis) and for no apparent reason the best wings in Chicago. One of their servers finally gave me a hint as to why: they use fresh wings and fresh batter. And orphan's tears.

Staff: Mike has managed Duke of Perth since 1990, and Colin has owned it for a couple years longer than that. Server, cook, and bartender turnover is low. And the staff are uniformly smart and laid-back.

Dogs: No, Parker isn't allowed at the Duke. But that's OK. While I like dog-friendly bars, Parker can be a big distraction while I'm working. If I'm just hanging out with a book, though, he's less of a bother.

Even though Duke of Perth remains my favorite after-work work bar, I'm going to spend the next few weekends looking for other places like it as a public service. Look for more posts on this topic, or download the data, which I'll update from time to time.

Saturday 21 September 2013 15:37:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Best Bars#
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The rise of session beers
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Best bars to work in: Duke of Perth
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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