The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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

What happened to public transit in the US?

In a CityLab article from this summer (which for some reason they put on today's newsletter, and not the one from June 25th), Tony Frangie Mawad examines the decline in American public transit since the late 20th century:

Back in 1970, 77 million Americans commuted to work every day, and 9% of them took a bus or a train. By 2019, the number of U.S. workers had nearly doubled, to more than 150 million. But the vast majority of these new workers chose to drive: The number of public transit riders increased by only around 1 million during those years, and their share of the country’s overall commuters collapsed to 5%.

“In a number of other countries, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are combined in one entity,” [said Yonah Freemark, a senior research associate with the Urban Institute]. “In the United States, we ended up with two different entities.” As a result, housing and mobility needs have been poorly aligned; the landscape is laden with housing that lacks access to public transportation, light rail lines that course through sparsely settled areas, and too many cities whose transit networks can’t connect riders with jobs.

But as Freemark’s new analysis of commuting data shows, based on his database of long-term trends in U.S. metros, regional patterns reveal a more complex story. Some cities have bucked national trends and gained transit commuters over the last 50 years. Coastal cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston saw an increase of hundreds of thousands of transit commuters between 1970 and 2019. Pre-pandemic, 3 million New Yorkers commuted by bus, subway and train daily — 500,000 more than in 1970 — and the region’s share of transit commuters held relatively steady.

Cities where transit use has seen massive reductions tend to be those that have endured deindustrialization and suburbanization during the last 50 years, with a concurrent rise in investments in highways designed to shuttle car-driving commuters in and out of town. “These used to be places that had really successful downtowns, but now most of their workforce has suburbanized,” says Freemark.

Here in Chicago, former Illinois Governors Bruce Rauner (R) and James Thompson (R) starved the Regional Transit Authority of funds—Rauner going so far as to halt almost all infrastructure improvements throughout the Chicago transit area.

Declines in transit use, therefore, come from policy decisions that we can reverse. Let's start by adequately funding the existing transit networks, and de-funding highway expansions, for example.

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:

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

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.

History in Wilmette

From 1916 until 1956, the Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee Railroad ran trolleys from the Roosevelt Road in Chicago up to Milwaukee. Trains traveled along what is now the CTA Purple Line to Linden Street, where the Purple Line now ends. From that point, they went another block up 4th Street, then west on Greenleaf to the Chicago & Northwestern tracks, then ran parallel to those clear on up to Wisconsin.

On Friday, I walked along the North Shore Line's right-of-way for most of the way. (It's now the Green Bay and McClory Trails.) About a month ago, I found a photo on the Trolley Dodger blog of the point where the North Shore Line met the C&NW line, taken in 1950:

Here's the same location Friday:

These days the Wilmette station on the North Shore line is a parking lot. I can only imagine what it must have been like to take a trolley through the streets of Wilmette. I imagine it looked a lot like this:

Those PRs only lasted 364 days

I once again walked from Uptown to Lake Bluff, as planned. And I broke all kinds of personal records.

Unfortunately, I discovered a usability bug in Garmin's Venu software that led to me accidentally deleting the first 9.47 km of the walk. I re-started the trace after covering another 530 meters, so the official record starts at 10.0 km:

Add 10 km and 1:27:02 to that data and you get 43.55 km in 6:30:08. My marathon time (42.2 km) was 6:16:55, a 2½-minute improvement over last year. But my marathon course time (including all rests) was 6:50:43, a 20-minute improvement. I completed my second marathon walk on the McCrory Trail in Lake Bluff:

Unlike last year, though, I had to get Cassie to and from day camp. That added about 4,000 steps to the day, leading to a blowout total step count and total distance:

Speaking of Cassie, she decided to reward me for the walk in her own, adorable way:

I should point out that I kind of hurt right now.

Another birthday, another long walk

Just as I did a year ago, I'm planning to walk up to Lake Bluff today, and once again the weather has cooperated. I'll take cloudy skies and 25°C for a 43-kilometer hike. (I would prefer 20°C and cloudy, but I'll take 25°C anyway.)

As I enjoy my breakfast in my sunny, airy office right now, mentally preparing for a (literal) marathon hike, life feels good. Well, until I read these things:

And hey, all you other Chicago athletes, good news! The City now has a website where you can find out the likelihood of the Chicago River giving you explosive diarrhea!