The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Welcome to the new normal

Yesterday in Chicago the temperature bottomed out at -19°C after dumping 50 mm of snow on us. Today the temperature just went above freezing, where it's expected to hover for a while.

So, mild winter indeed, with more ridiculousness to come.

Working from home is still working

While I do get to sign off a bit earlier today, I might not read all of these articles until tomorrow:

Finally, despite today's near-record low temperatures in Chicago, we expect a 12°C increase from earlier this morning until tomorrow afternoon. Hey, if this is the only day all winter that even flirts with -18°C, I'm happy.

Lake Bluff Brewing Co., Lake Bluff

Welcome to stop #4 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Lake Bluff Brewing Co., 16 E. Scranton St., Lake Bluff, Ill.
Train line: Metra Union Pacific North, Lake Bluff station.
Time from Chicago (Ogilvie): 61 minutes, zone G
Distance from station: 100 m

I liked this taproom a lot. I only had 35 minutes between trains, but that was enough time to enjoy the chill atmosphere and to try a beer.

The pint of Inspiration IPA (6.2%, 66 IBU) went down cleanly and easily. It's a straightforward IPA that doesn't have as much bitterness as you'd expect from its IBU rating. The bartender also gave me a sip of the Velvet Hammer Imperial Vanilla Porter (9.4%, 26 IBU) that would have started the afternoon a little on the wobbly side had I gotten a full tulip glass. But wow, it was yummy.

The place felt comfortable and the patrons seemed laid back listening to vinyl and chatting quietly. But at 2pm on a Saturday, why wouldn't they be? The bar also had events that, if I lived all the way up there, I might attend, such as monthly trivia nights hosted by the Lake Bluff Public Library.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? 2, avoidable
Serves food? Supplied from pub next door
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Old Irving Brewing Co., Chicago

Welcome to stop #3 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Old Irving Brewing Co., 4419 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
Train line: Metra Milwaukee District North, Mayfair station. (Also CTA Blue Line, Montrose station)
Time from Chicago (Union Station): 20 minutes, zone B
Distance from station: 600 m (300 m from CTA)

I think I should have come during the day and not on a Friday night. Old Irving, which opened in 2016 to good press, wants to be a neighborhood bar that brews beer. I think it succeeds on that front. But when I visited, it seemed the entire neighborhood had come out for dinner.

I wound up having a 300 mL pour of their Double Beezer double dry hopped double IPA (8.5%, 52 IBUs). Not bad. I'd have it again. But they didn't have a regular IPA or APA on the menu, so I felt a bit hopped out when I left. 

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Everywhere
Serves food? Full kitchen
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Maybe

Ten Ninety Brewing Co., Glenview

Welcome to stop #2 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Ten Ninety Brewing Co., 1025 Waukegan Rd., Glenview, Ill.
Train line: Metra Milwaukee District North, Glenview station.
Time from Chicago (Union Station): 38 minutes, zone D
Distance from station: 700 m

A trio of bros formed Ten Ninety in 2012 and moved to Glenview in 2016. They specialize in Imperial-style beers, but they have a full line to go with their full kitchen.

From left to right, I tried the Jackman Bear, 4.7%, brown ale; Masshole, 6.7%, New England IPA; Angry Dragon, 6.1%, American pale; and Brut, 5.5%, IPA.

I liked the Angry Dragon best. It had grapefruit and caramel notes with a long finish. The Jackman Bear tasted like what Newcastle Brown Ale wishes it were. The Masshole was a solid New England IPA with orange and treacle notes and a long finish. I'm not sure I liked the Brut IPA at all; it had a bitterness that tasted more like lemon peel than citra hops.

As for the vibe, it's a suburban restaurant-brewpub. If I lived in Glenview, I might stop in once in a while...but Glenview House is just three blocks away.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Many, unavoidable
Serves food? Full kitchen
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? No

Macushla Brewing, Glenview

Welcome to my new project: Brews and Choos. Off and on over the next year, I'm going to visit 98 breweries and distilleries that are within about 1.5 km of rail lines around Chicago. Some of them are right downtown; others require a 100-minute schlep to a neighboring state.

I'll post reviews and visit notes in chronological order. For a list organized by train line, check out the explanation page.

Here's the first stop.

Brewery: Macushla Brewing, 1516 E. Lake Ave., Glenview, Ill.
Train line: Metra Milwaukee District North, Glenview station.
Time from Chicago (Union Station): 38 minutes, zone D
Distance from station: 1.3 km

"Macushla" means "my pulse, my lifeblood, my darling" in Gaelic. Mike and Megan Welch founded the brewpub in 2015 in Mike's home town of Glenview, Ill. Unfortunately, Mike died in 2016, and Megan now runs the brewery on her own.

I had a 4-beer sampler from their current line-up: Easy Sipsa, a 4.1% 20 IBU session IPA; Ring of Fire, 5.2%, 41 IBUs, Scottish IPA; Chalk Eater, 7.2%, 55 IBUs, IPA; and The Hammer, 9.75%, 20 IBUs, Scotch ale.

They were all pretty good. The Easy Sipsa lived up to its name; the Chalk Eater hit me with a full dose of hops and alcohol. The Hammer, despite its strength, tasted sweet and malty, with notes of pear and maple. They don't serve pints of that one; sip it slowly.

I also liked the vibe. The place is small and cozy, with a modest patio (complete with igloo). They have pretzels and small pizzas in the bar, and an arrangement with Hackney's next door if you want something more substantial.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? 2, unavoidable
Serves food? Snacks; full kitchen next door
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Yes

Three strikes against impeachment

Welp, the Senate has acquitted President Trump almost entirely along party lines, as everyone knew it would. Only Mitt Romney (R-UT) crossed the aisle to vote for conviction. Here's a roundup of the news in the last few hours:

About yesterday:

  • The Washington Post has an annotated SOTU.
  • Alexandra Petri clutched every pearl she owned, "and also the pearls of strangers, and some oysters that may contain pearls in the future" after Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ripped up her copy of the SOTU.
  • NBC called the address Trump's "victory lap." Oh no, NBC; he's got more lapping in him.

In other news:

And it's snowing.

Mild winters in Chicago have a depressing side effect

We conclude January 2020 in Chicago having 16 out of 31 days (including today) with no visible sun, tying the all-time record of 9 consecutive days without sun set on 9 January 1992. We've had only 24% of possible sunlight this month, making this the third-gloomiest January on record after 1998 (20%) and 2011 (23%).

But this is really just a consequence of our unusually mild winter. Since December 1st, we've had 46 out of 60 days above freezing, and only 6 days below -10°C. And mercifully, the forecast for tomorrow and Sunday calls for warmth (11°C on Sunday, fully 9°C above normal) and sunshine (20% predicted for tomorrow, and 90% predicted for Sunday).

So, all right, I can live with more than a week of gloomy skies in exchange for unseasonably mild weather in January.