The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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.

Two Hound Red, Glen Ellyn

Welcome to stop #51 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Two Hound Red, 486 Pennsylvania Ave., Glen Ellyn
Train line: UP West, Glen Ellyn
Time from Chicago: 45 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 500 m

You know? Downtown Glen Ellyn is a lot cuter than I expected. And Two Hound Red, which opened in June 2019, is worth the trip. If only they had fewer TVs...

They don't have flights, but they will give you pairs of 5-ounce samples, so I had two. Meaning four. And they were pretty good—though it turned out one of them was a guest tap.

Their Lost Grimoire Pils (5.3%, 24 IBU) started very malty, almost too sweet, with a long finish. I really liked their NEWest Coast IPA (6.3%, 46 IBU) had Citra on the nose and lots of flavor with a good hop balance. And their hop-forward Red War Era IPA (5.8%) had some unexpected malt and a really nice bitterness to round out the complex flavors at the end.

I also had their current guest tap, Miskatonik's Nazgul Porter (5.7%), which had excellent chocolate and coffee notes. (I would love to visit their taproom in Darien, but as it would require a 7.4 km walk from Westmont, it won't appear on the Brews and Choos list.)

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

Getting the band back together

In a few minutes I'm hosting only the second in-person thing my chorus has done in the past 18 months: our last board meeting of the summer. We're all set to start in-person rehearsals on the 13th, though we will probably have to wear masks until our performances. That'll be weird—but at least we'll be in the same room.

Other choruses in Chicago have the same challenges:

“COVID shut us down completely because singing is a superspreader event,” said Jimmy Morehead, artistic director for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. Immediately, they canceled all shows and in-person rehearsals.

But they set virtual rehearsals for the same time, hoping to provide connection.

“The twofold reason why people join the chorus is to either just sing, or make friends, and so we wanted to make sure that people didn’t feel alienated and didn’t feel isolated,” Morehead said. Everyone shared what they did that week, what they watched on Netflix or what they cooked.

In person, Morehead was used to being able to give quick feedback. On Zoom, “I have to trust and hope and pray that they’re learning and doing everything correctly.” The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus pulled off live online shows, where people performed from their home.

Some of our singers also perform with CGMC, and I've talked to Jimmy a couple of times during the pandemic. We are all overjoyed to get back to rehearsals, even if it means proof of vaccination and big ugly masks.

Elmhurst Brewing Co., Elmhurst

Welcome to stop #50 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Elmhurst Brewing Co., 171 N Addison Ave., Elmhurst
Train line: UP West, Elmhurst
Time from Chicago: 32 minutes (Zone D)
Distance from station: 300 m

Elmhurst Brewing opened in February 2018 and got through the pandemic with take-out and delivery. I can understand how: they have good beer. They brew in the back, then send the beer up to giant steel containers behind the bar, which creates a cool aesthetic in the bar area:

Marissa set out a flight of four 5-ounce pours. I started with the Go To Helles (4.7%, 23 IBU), a clean, malty lager with good length and complexity. Next, the Sabro Paradise APA (5.4%, 40 IBU) also had a clean feel with more malt than hops in an unexpectedly hazy pour. The Julius Squeezer Hazy IPA (6.7%, 21 IBU) had a great hop-malt balance with prominent Citra hops and a long, pleasant finish. Finally, the PrHopaganda West Coast IPA (7.1%, 71 IBU) had a big hop flavor without being "hop porn." All four really showed off the craft.

We have a concert in Elmhurst next March. I'll bring the crew to EBC for post-concert drinks.

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

Happy birthday, Gene

Eugene Wesley Roddenberry would have been 100 years old todayStar Trek and NASA have a livestream today to celebrate.

In other news:

Finally, sometime today I hope to finish reading Joe Pinsker's interview with author Oliver Burkeman about how not to get sucked into things that waste your time, like the Internet.