The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Guinness to open Chicago brewery

Yes, that Guinness. They've found a derelict railway building in the Fulton Market area and plan to open a new stop on the Brews & Choos Project:

Chicago developer Fred Latsko has struck a deal with Irish beer brand Guinness to open a brewery and beer hall in a long-vacant Fulton Market District building while he lines up plans to build what could be one of the former meatpacking neighborhood's tallest office buildings next door.

Guinness is poised to open the venue as part of a revival of the graffiti-clad former Pennsylvania Railroad Terminal building on the eastern edge of Latsko's property at 375 N. Morgan St., according to sources familiar with the plans. Separately, a Latsko venture aims to develop a 33-story office building on the vacant western edge of the property near the corner of Morgan and Kinzie streets, according to a document submitted to City Council this month by 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett.

Details of each project remain unclear, and Latsko and Burnett couldn't be reached for comment. A Guinness spokeswoman declined to comment.

A lot can happen before this becomes real. But Guinness opened a brewery in Baltimore three years ago, though they don't brew their iconic Stout there. Instead, the taproom sells experimental beers brewed on site and Stout brewed in Dublin. I expect the Chicago iteration will have the same strategy.

Third Monday in September

Today might be the last hot day of the year in Chicago. (I hope so, anyway.) While watching the cold front come through out my office window, with the much-needed rain ahead of it, I have lined up some news stories to read later today:

And finally, Metallica has an unexpected show tonight at Metro Chicago, about two kilometers from my house. Tickets are $20. I hope people show up for my board meeting tonight.

E-books are terrible

Writing in The Atlantic, Ian Bogost explains better than I could why I stopped using my Kindle a few years back:

A particular reader’s receptivity to ebooks...depends on the degree to which these objects conform to, or at least fail to flout, one’s idea of bookiness. But if you look back at the list of features that underlie that idea, ebooks embrace surprisingly few of them.

An ebook doesn’t have pages, for one. The Kindle-type book does have text, and that text might still be organized into sections and chapters and the like. But the basic unit of text in an ebook does not correspond with a page, because the text can be made to reflow at different sizes and in various fonts, as the user prefers. That’s why Amazon invented “locations” to track progress and orientation in a book. You’d think the matter displayed on an iPad screen would feel more familiar—it’s just pictures of actual pages—but oddly it often feels less like leaves of paper than its e-ink brethren does. The weird way you tap or push a whole image of a page to the side—it’s the uncanny valley of page turning, not a simulation or replacement of it.

Ebook devices are extremely compatible with an idea of bookiness that values holding and carrying a potentially large number of books at once; that prefers direct flow from start to finish over random access; that reads for the meaning and force of the words as text first, if not primarily; and that isn’t concerned with the use of books as stores of reader-added information or as memory palaces. Some of the reading that corresponds particularly well with this conception of bookiness includes fiction in general and genre fiction—such as mysteries, sci-fi, young-adult fiction, and romance—in particular.

I guess I have my answer, then: I hate ebooks because I don’t read much genre fiction, but I read a lot of scholarly and trade nonfiction. I also buy a lot of books on art, architecture, and design, whose subjects work best—or feel most bookish—when they are large-format, open-spread, and richly illustrated. As a somewhat haughty book person, I also can’t quite wrap my spleen around every book looking and feeling the same, like they do on an ebook reader. For me, bookiness partly entails the uniqueness of each volume—its cover, shape, typography, and layout.

If you like ebooks, great. Enjoy your dim, gray screen in peace. If you hate them, don’t worry about it. Who says everything must involve a computer? Maybe it’s better, even, to protect the print-book market by building a firewall against ebooks’ expansion beyond their rule over genre fiction. Just give up and read normal books, like humankind has done for 2,000 years.

I read dozens of books on Kindles while traveling for school and work, and I remember very little of them. Yet I can often recall the place on the page where I read a particular line in a book.

Horse Thief Hollow, Chicago

Welcome to stop #57 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Horse Thief Hollow, 10426 S. Western Ave., Chicago
Train line: Rock Island, 103rd–Beverly Hills
Time from Chicago: 26 minutes (Zone C)
Distance from station: 1.3 km

About 180 years ago, the low, swampy area where 111th Street meets Vincennes Avenue today provided excellent cover for a band of horse thieves who plagued the farmers far to the south of Chicago. In 2013, Neil Byers opened a restaurant and brewery nearby.

Eight years in, they are worth the trip to the hind end of Chicago. They not only have many tasty beers, but also they have a smoker and lots of pork to smoke in it. I tried their flight, which comprises six 100-mL pours:

I started with the Little Wing Pilsner (5.2%), a crisp, malty lager with a clean finish. Next, the Annexation West Coast IPA (7.2%), bursting with Citra fruitiness and almost a little tartness, a good example of the expression—but my socks stayed on my feet. The Kitchen Sink "Old School" APA (5.7%) was very good, more flavorful than the Annexation but not obnoxiously so. I had two Spoonful double dry-hopped hazy IPAs (6.5%), and found them nice and hoppy with good juiciness and a clean finish. Finally, I tried the Mannish Boy American Stout (5.0%), which was dryer than I expected, with great flavor, and a long hoppy finish I liked.

The pulled pork sandwich did, it turns out, knock my socks off. So did the beer garden, which (alas) will revert to being a parking lot when the weather turns colder.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got pinned down for an hour by a fast-moving but strong thunderstorm. Fortunately they serve beer inside as well. After the storm passed I had about 25 minutes to walk to the Metra, so I took my time strolling through Beverly. About three blocks in, I encountered this guy:

He didn't seem particularly interested in me, though he kept his distance. Instead he rid the neighborhood of at least one rat and carried on with his evening. Thanks, friend fox.

Beer garden? Yes (summer only)
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? A few, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Open Outcry Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #56 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Open Outcry Brewing, 10934 S. Western Ave., Chicago
Train line: Rock Island, 111th–Morgan Park
Time from Chicago: 30 minutes (Zone C)
Distance from station: 1.1 km

Yesterday I snuck out of the office before sunset and headed out to Tinley Park to see the new beer garden at Banging Gavel Brews. Despite my very careful reading of train schedules to visit three Rock Island Line stops in one evening, I did not read Banging Gavel's website carefully enough, and wound up spending 21 minutes wandering around the Tinley Park Metra station feeling kind of dumb.

It turned out, the mistake allowed me to spend more time at Open Outcry and Horse Thief Hollow. So did the violent thunderstorm. It was a fun evening.

Anyway, I don't know if or when I've ever visited the Morgan Park neighborhood on Chicago's far South Side, but I will have to go back. Open Outcry Brewing opened in 2017 on what has to be the only semi-attractive stretch of Western Avenue in Chicago. (Seriously, the longest street in Chicago may also be its ugliest.)

They have a huge rooftop beer garden, and I had no trouble getting a seat in the shade overlooking the street.

They have flights for only $9, so naturally I tried a few:

From left to right, I tried the Self Regulator New England Pale Ale (5.5%), a juicy, fruity, Citra forward pale that wasn't too hoppy; the Fresh Hopped Louis Winthorpe NEIPA (7.2%), a yummy balanced hazy beer with big flavor and a great finish; the Open Interest NEIPA (6.3%), which had a little more hop and fruit than the Winthorpe; and the Dark Pool Russian Imperial Milk Stout (10.5%), whose coffee and chocolate flavors hit like a brick wrapped in gold foil. That last one is a very dangerous beer. And the guests at the next table had a small pizza that I will have to try.

They don't allow dogs except for the three tables along the sidewalk, so call first to make sure you can get one. Also, the rooftop is open all winter, with a half-dozen heated yurts (reservations required).

Beer garden? Yes (rooftop)
Dogs OK? Not really
Televisions? A few, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Entering Beverly

The Brews & Choos Project continues this evening with a short trip to the South Side. Beverly (probably named after the one in Massachusetts) became one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods in the mid-20th century, and remains so today. I would call it the most North Side-like part of the South Side. (I'll also visit Morgan Park, just a little below 107th Street.)

To celebrate this occasion, enjoy this fun ditty by John Forster:

Gotta have hearts

Whisky Advocate finally lays out something I've wondered about: which single malts go into which blends?

“Cardhu’s at the heart of Johnnie Walker,” says Emma Walker, one of 12 master blenders that work on Johnnie Walker. “Cardhu was always a blender’s favorite,” she adds. “It was essential to Johnnie Walker. They always created high-quality spirit and it became a partnership even before Cardhu joined the Johnnie Walker family.”

Owned by Diageo, Cardhu Distillery is just one of the global corporation’s 29 whisky-producing distilleries in Scotland alone. This gives the Johnnie Walker blending team a vast library of stocks to work with.

For fans of single malt scotch, being able to identify the single malts that make up a blend is a fun endeavor that is sure to bring new appreciation for the craft of blending.

That's true, and in some cases it works inductively. Like, where does 90% of Caol Ila's output wind up?

Busy day

Tonight the Apollo Chorus of Chicago has its first in-person rehearsal since 12 March 2020, almost exactly 18 months ago. We're in a new rehearsal space with lots of new people and new challenges (like mandatory mask-wearing while singing). Poor Cassie won't see me for several more hours.

Tomorrow I expect a little more breathing room. Today, though...yikes.

Want a new ride?

Lloyds of Australia has an auction lot available for a couple of weeks that could seriously shake up your neighborhood:

Title: High Octane Offers - Expressions of Madness Invited

Description:
Available for expressions of Madness is a Museum of Modern Masterpieces, these vehicles are survivors of the apocalypse that was the filming of FURY ROAD.

Blown, super-turbo charged and armed to the teeth with weaponry and War Boys, the machines that outran the end of civilisation have been unearthed in the greatest barn-find ever recorded.

Nitrous, noxious, and no-nonsense harbingers of hell, marking man’s uncanny ability to wring beauty even from that designed for death and destruction, art from power, meaning from machine.

No, really, I want to see the Doof Wagon on the streets of Chicago. Don't you?

The auction closes on September 26th.

Greenstar Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #55 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Greenstar Brewing, 3800 N. Clark St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Red Line, Addison
Time from Chicago: 18 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m

The local organic restaurant pair Uncommon Ground brews organic beer at its Wrigleyville location just a block from Wrigley Field. Since 2011 they've brewed good beer and served it alongside decent food, offering a grown-up alternative to the Kindergarten bars around the ball park.

A couple of friends joined Cassie and me on Friday. They don't usually drink beer, but the server brought us tastes of the Oktoberfest (5.5%) they just tapped. I also had a flight while they had cocktails. We all had food.

I started with the ZCF ("Zero Carbon Footprint") Pilsner (second from right, 5.1%), a flavorful, complex, and malty expression of the style. Next I tried the Certifiable American Pale Ale (right, 4.6%), a light and not-too-hoppy, not-too-fruity malt I'd give to someone just learning to like good beers. Third from right was the Gabba Gabba Haze pale ale (5.5%), bursting with Citra hop fruitiness and a lot of malt, with the wheat and oats providing even more sweetness. I finished on the left with the Spaceship IPA (6.9%), a very fruity Citra bomb that still had a lot of malt in it.

Altogether, I found Head Brewer Brandon Stern's palate a bit too sweet for my taste. All the beers tasted good, and solidly demonstrated their styles, but all of them had more malt than hop in the balance. I would like to have seen a dryer pale or India pale in the mix.

They have an airy and comfortable sidewalk area that extends out into Grace Street just far enough from the children returning from the afternoon's Cubs game.

And while we had dinner, Cassie made a new friend (11-month-old Bluebottle), playing with her for about 90 minutes until we had to leave.

Beer garden? Sidewalk
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? None
Serves food? Yes, full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes