The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lunchtime lineup

It's another beautiful September afternoon, upon which I will capitalize when Cassie and I go to a new stop on the Brews & Choos Project after work. At the moment, however, I am refactoring a large collection of classes that for unfortunate reasons don't support automated testing, and looking forward to a day of debugging my refactoring Monday.

Meanwhile:

And now, more refactoring.

The dignity of the office

Even though no one ever utters the phrase "just when you thought he couldn't stoop lower" about the XPOTUS, this might come close to making you say it:

Former President Donald Trump has signed a contract to provide commentary on a "gamecast" of Saturday's boxing event headlined by Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort, Triller told ESPN on Tuesday.

His son Donald Trump Jr. will join him at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Talk about going back to his roots. But after all, who's really signing the contract anyway?

Late birthday present?

If anyone forgot to get me a birthday present last week, Whisky Advocate has a suggestion for you:

Many of us consider an 18 year old scotch a treat, and regard a well-aged 25 or 30 year old expression as an indulgent luxury. These are mere youngsters compared to the new Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80 year old distilled at Glenlivet Distillery. Matured for eight decades, this whisky spans the term of office of 15 U.S. presidents. It was approaching 50 years old when President George H.W. Bush took the oath of office, making him the last sitting president to be older than the whisky, and from Biden back to Clinton, none of the last five presidents were even born when this cask was filled. It’s a Speyside single malt disgorged from a sherry butt filled on February 3, 1940, which extends Gordon & MacPhail’s unbroken run of releasing the world’s oldest whisky, a record the company has held since the launch of the Generations series in 2010.

Gordon & MacPhail will release 250 crystal decanters globally, although the price remains a closely guarded secret ahead of the auction of decanter no. 1 as part of a Generations package going under the hammer at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong on October 7. Proceeds from this single lot will benefit Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life, whose work involves restoring areas of Caledonian forest habitat to the Scottish Highlands. The winning bidder will receive decanter no. 1 with a set of matching glasses, the framed cask end of the Generations 80 year old Cask no. 340, a signed lithograph of Sir David Adjaye’s original design sketches for Generations, and a whisky tasting with Sir David to celebrate the winner’s new ownership of the whisky. That event will be hosted in London by Stephen Rankin, who is Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige and the great-grandson of John Urquhart, who took ownership of the business in 1915.

An example of the previous release, a 75-year-old whisky bottled in 2015, sold at auction last September for a mere £16,000.

Sketchbook Brewery, Evanston (revisit)

I have stopped at Sketchbook's Evanston taproom about half a dozen times since it became stop #8 on the Brews and Choos project. This past Sunday, I mis-timed a trip to Temperance Beer Co., so why not try stop at one of my favorite taprooms? I mean, I suppose I could have walked 25 minutes through this:

Instead, I tried two of Sketchbook's beers that I hadn't had before, recommended by the ever-helpful Beesy. Knowing my palate, she suggested the Day Game American IPA (6%, 67 IBU), the lower-alcohol version of their stalwart Night Game DIPA. The big ol' Mosaic hop flavor gets a smoothing finish from a drop of honey. I loved it.

I also had a taste of the Orange Door Double Dry-Hopped IPA (7.2%, 76 IBU), a big, Citra-forward explosion of orange, lemon, and grapefruit, that I found completely refreshing on such a hot day.

I will probably revisit a few breweries now and then, starting with Lake Bluff Brewing Co., which I plan to visit next weekend. That said, I have 56 more new places to visit. I'll get there.

Temperance Beer Co., Evanston

Welcome to stop #54 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Temperance Beer Co., 2000 Dempster St., Evanston
Train line: CTA Purple Line, Dempster
Time from Chicago: 34 minutes (longer on weekends)
Distance from station: 1.8 km

I've made an exception to the "within 1500 meters" rule for Temperance. I almost always have some Gatecrasher IPA in my fridge, so I couldn't simply ignore one of my favorite breweries just because it takes an extra three minutes to get there.

I finally visited yesterday despite the 34°C temperatures and mis-timing these two small thunderstorms:

The blue dot shows me at Howard Street, waiting to change to the Purple Line, looking off to the west and wondering how long it would take for them to pass. I decided to stop in Evanston before continuing on to Temperance; more on that in a subsequent post.

Once I got to Temperance, I settled in with a brisket sandwich from the Goodstuff Eats food truck parked outside and a flight of four beers.

From left to right: first, the Gatecrasher English-Style IPA (6.6%), my go-to Temperance beer, with a lovely malty-hoppy combination that reminds me of English pubs. Next, the All the World is Here Double-Hopped Cream Ale (5%), which I found malty and refreshing, but not too sweet. The Oktoberfest Marzen-style lager (5.7%) was an excellent example of the style, with a lot of complex flavor for a lager. Finally, the Escapist American IPA (6.7%) had big hops, big flavor, and a malty finish. I'll supplement my next Gatecrasher purchase with some of that.

The only downside: the City of Evanston doesn't allow dogs in beer gardens, even when the establishment doesn't serve food. So while I would happily go back to Temperance, especially if they have a concert night, I'll take Cassie to Sketchbook in Skokie when I'm meeting friends in the suburbs.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No (city rule)
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, but watch for food trucks
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

How is it already 4pm?

I have opened these on my Surface at work, but I'll have to read them at home:

Finally, Empirical Brewery has a new line of beer that supports Tree House Cats at Work. I'll try some and let you know.

Dovetail Brewery, Chicago

Welcome to stop #53 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Ave., Chicago
Train line: UP North, Ravenswood (also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 13 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 1.3 km (Metra), 300 m (CTA)

I know, I know, I should have posted about Dovetail months ago. I mean, Dovetail and Begyle (stop #15) are less than 100 meters apart, and until recently both had dog-friendly policies. But on the day I visited Begyle for the Brews and Choos Project, Begyle had room for Parker and me, but Dovetail was jammed wall to wall. So I went up to Ravinia (sans dog) instead. That was 22 February 2020. Both Begyle and Dovetail shut down shortly after because of the pandemic.

So finally last Sunday, a friend and I wanted to take our dogs to a place where we could get a pint, and Dovetail fit the bill for both location and dog-friendliness. So finally last Sunday, I got a pint at Dovetail.

I need to point out two things about Dovetail's beers: first, they are really well made and delicious, my friends assure me. Let me repeat: these are great beers. They really do "produce beer of the highest quality similar to the level of craftsmanship found in fine woodworking" while "merging continental European styles and techniques with American creativity to produce the kind of beers found in small, family-run breweries in Europe," as their website says.

Exhibit: on tap as of this writing they offer an oak-smoked wheat beer, a Hefeweizen, a Kölsch, a Maibock, a Rauchweizen, a Cab Franc, a Fraise, a Framboise, a Kriek, etc.

But, you see, to my second point: they don't brew the Anglo-American styles that I like at all.

So when friends visit me from Europe, I take them to Dovetail. If I want to impress someone who likes Belgian beer with the best examples brewed in the U.S., I will give them Dovetail. But if I want to read a book while sipping a pale ale while Cassie watches the world go past, I'll go to Spiteful, Half Acre, Urban Brew Labs, or Empirical. (Also, Dovetail's beer garden is right next to the El, so conversation has to stop every few minutes while the El goes past and Cassie goes boyang.)

And that's OK. I like that Dovetail does really difficult beers really well. I appreciate them. I just prefer different beers.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, but watch for food trucks
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Fun times with non-profit contracts

Local restaurant review show "Check Please," which was to begin its 20th season on the local public-television station WTTW, will instead end its run after the station proposed contract terms that the producers couldn't accept:

I'd like to say our upcoming 20th milestone season will be our best one ever!  However, WTTW/11 and I want to go in different directions and pursue other opportunities, so it's just not to be.

Crain's has more:

The show's last contract ended in the spring of 2020, just as the pandemic forced restaurants to close. Manilow said they started new discussions about a month ago and in the last week, WTTW presented him with a new contract and he said it was so different, it didn't make sense for him to continue the relationship.

"We talked about some different ideas they had. They were so drastically different that I'm not going to get into the details," Manilow said. "There wasn't much room for negotiation. We tried but it didn't work out. If they had done what we've done the last 19 years, we'd be in production now. That's just a fact and that's their prerogative. From a fundamental standpoint, every other renewal was kind of pro forma and they'd renew."

My guess, informed by years of dealing with non-profit arts organizations, is that WTTW misunderstood how pricing and microeconomics work.

Arts organizations have a tough time making money, because (let's face it) most people don't value them highly. So there's a large supply of arts organizations and small demand. If you graph supply and demand, where they meet is the equilibrium price (where curve D1 and S meet):

If you charge more than P1, you will sell less, and probably make less money. In order to sell more (move from Q1 to Q2), demand has to move first (D1 to D2).

Unfortunately, many arts organizations try to balance their budgets by increasing prices, believing demand to be constant. Someone whips out Excel and plugs in some numbers, and voilà! Instant revenue!

But that doesn't work, and it's easy to see why.

We sell tickets to Händel's Messiah for $35 to $70, depending on the section. We have a good idea how many we sell every year in each section, so we have some confidence in our budgeting. But imagine we found out that, say, a deadly disease would require us to have an empty seat between each person in the audience, meaning we could only sell half the number of seats.

So we plug everything into Excel and figure that we can sell half as many seats for twice as much money. Cool!

Except no one wants to pay $140 for a seat at our performance. They might pay $75, but at that price would many other people would shift from the orchestra level to the balcony, so we'd wind up with even less money.

I imagine that WTTW looked at their budget and figured that they needed to pay "Check, Please!" a lot less in order to keep their books in balance. And the producers of "Check, Please!" said no, we're not adjusting our prices to help you balance your books; we can take our product elsewhere.

We'll see. It's sad when this sort of thing happens, and I wish more arts organizations would recognize that they need people with business skills in management. I expect "Check, Please!" will do just fine online.

Dry City Brew Works, Wheaton

Welcome to stop #52 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Dry City Brew Works, 120 N. Main St., Wheaton
Train line: UP West, Wheaton
Time from Chicago: 51 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 500 m

Just as Methodist-founded Northwestern University in Evanston kept that city dry from the 1850s until 1972, Wheaton College had the same effect on the DuPage County Seat until 1984. Dry City Brew Works celebrates (?) this history with their quirky taproom (and live music!) right on Main Street.

I planned to meet a local friend for dinner in Wheaton, and Dry City doesn't have sample sizes, so I only had one beer: the Cosmic Cryo DIPA (7.5%). It had bang-on Citra hops right away, with all their grapefruit and mango notes, good malt balance, and a crisp finish I really enjoyed. I also had a couple sips of my friend's Pollinator Saison/Farmhouse Ale (5.8%), a well-made specimen of the type, which I liked even though I typically don't like Saisons.

Next time Cassie and I visit my friend and her dog, we might stop for a pint at Dry City.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? No
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Lunchtime roundup

Stories from the usual suspects:

Finally, Whisky Advocate calls out a few lesser-known distilleries in Scotland worth visiting—or at least sampling.