The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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

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

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

Vaccines, climate change, and trains

Those topics led this afternoon's news roundup:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 6th periodic report on the state of the planet, and it's pretty grim. But as Josh Marshall points out, "Worried about life on earth? Don’t be. Life’s resilient and has a many hundreds of millions of years track record robust enough to handle and adapt to anything we throw at it. But the player at the top of the heap is the first to go."
  • Charles Blow has almost run out of empathy for people who haven't gotten a Covid-19 jab. Author John Scalzi takes a more nuanced view, at least distinguishing between the people who peddle the lie and those who merely buy it.
  • A research group has discovered how they can own your locked-down computer in about 30 minutes with a few tools, but at least they also tell you how to lock it down better.
  • Almost half of Amtrak's $66 billion cash infusion will go to making New York City more navigable. I want my HSR to Milwaukee, dammit!
  • Sometime last week, a Russian capsule accidentally fired a thruster, sending the International Space Station into a 540-degree roll.

Finally, long-time police reporter Radley Balko exposes the lie that keeps innocent people in jail.

MyGrain Brewing Co., Joliet

Welcome to stop #49 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: MyGrain Brewing., 50 E. Jefferson St., Joliet
Train line: Heritage Corridor or Rock Island, Joliet
Time from Chicago: 70 minutes (Zone H)
Distance from station: At the station

One of the subtle (to American audiences, anyway) bits of satire in Simon Pegg's 2013 movie The World's End is the sameness of the pubs that the characters visit. They have the same faux-handwriting, faux-chalk menu boards; the same layouts; the same food; the same prefabricated vibe. I have experienced this sorrow as well, when the lovely Blackbird in Earls Court got hollowed out in 2019 and became just like every other corporatized pub in London.

As I did at Emmett's in Palatine, and at Ten Ninety in Glenview, upon walking into MyGrain last Friday I felt...nothing. The servers, all of them just old enough to serve alcohol but not old enough to remember a world before Facebook, seemed friendly enough, even as they missed things like my request for a glass of water with my beer. Or silverware with my hamburger. (The food was fiiiiine.) They did let me charge my phone, though. That was nice.

While watching the US Women's Soccer team beat the Netherlands in penalty kicks to win the quarterfinal, I tried a 9-ounce Service Dog New England IPA (7.3%, 50 IBU) and a 16-ounce Pincher's Pale APA (5.7%, 60 IBU), both of which were fiiiine. They were well-designed, focus-group-tested, inoffensive, and utterly boring examples of the styles.

I get that opening a restaurant inside a large space under railroad tracks has a lot of risk in and of itself. I just wish that restauranteurs would sometimes stray, just a little, from the most-average-customer's tastes and try something interesting. But they didn't, so I finished my beers and my hamburger and checked to see if the 7:30 return train was on time.

Except there is no 7:30 return train. There's a 7:15 and an 8:30. So I wound up having another pint of Pincher's (still just fiiiiine) and watching the USA-Japan women's basketball game with half an eye, reading my book, and forgetting that I would arrive at LaSalle Street Station just as a million teenagers wearing inappropriate clothes would leave Lollapalooza and board the El I needed to take home.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Everywhere, unavoidable
Serves food? Full menu (it's fiiiiine)
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? No
Would go back? No

Welcome to August

While I look out my hermetically-sealed office window at some beautiful September weather in Chicago (another argument for working from home), I have a lot of news to digest:

And finally, Jakob Nielsen explains to web designers as patiently as possible why pop-ups piss off users.

Elder Brewing Company, Joliet

Welcome to stop #48 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Elder Brewing Co.., 218 E. Cass Ave., Joliet
Train line: Heritage Corridor or Rock Island, Joliet
Time from Chicago: 70 minutes (Zone H)
Distance from station: 500 m

Joliet: the end of two train lines. Home of the Big House, the Sting, and a weird little brewery that I will make a point of visiting again.

When Andrew Polykandriotis opened Elder Brewing in 2017, he saw the brewery as a part of the push to revitalize downtown Joliet. You can see from the photo above that Joliet still has a way to go, though. No matter: he's created an inviting space with friendly people.

I only planned to have one beer so that I could get food at the other Joliet brewery, so I chose the Poly's Revenge APA (5.5%), one of the first beers Polykandriotis brewed. (The "revenge" is on all the people who predicted the brewery would fail.) It was great: nicely balanced, not too hoppy, clean, and flavorful.

The dog-friendly taproom has free popcorn and a library of old VHS tapes that they will happily play on the TV over the bar. A couple of patrons had just started The Little Mermaid when I came in. They also have a rack of menus if you want to order in from the local restaurants (a rib joint nearby looked like a good bet), and board games for all ages.

With a minor-league ball park a block away and easy access on Metra, I might make a day of it in Joliet at some point. Elder Brewing will be on the agenda.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? Only popcorn (free!)
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes