The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Tonality Brewing, Mundelein

Welcome to stop #108 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Tonality Brewing, 169 N. Seymore Ave., Mundelein
Train line: North-Central Service, Mundelein
Time from Chicago: 68 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

One of Chicagoland's newest breweries, Tonality opened in November in the shadow of Mundelein's water tower, ensuring they will always have enough of their principal ingredient to keep making great beers. They also have really good food, which their house manager claimed is 95% made from scratch. I can only attest to the potato chips, which were really good.

But the beer is worth the trip. Beermiscuous in Lakeview has some of their beers while they work out other distribution deals, but only a few of them, and not the best of the tastes I had.

On the left we have the Rich Life Bohemian Pilsner (4.2%), which has a lot of flavor for a Pils. (The haziness of my sample is merely because it was near the end of the keg.) The Notoberfest festbier (6.2%)—so named because they missed opening in September last year—had big malt with honey and apple notes, and a long finish. Next came the Cosmic Wolf NEIPA (6.6%), which had peach and banana notes, and drank more like a lager than a double dry-hopped IPA. I rounded out my official flight with the Fadeaway West Coast IPA (8.8%), a dangerous, flavorful beer I would drink very carefully. Mo, the bartender, also let me try a swig of the Crepuscular Russian Imperial Stout (12%), which exploded in my mouth with chocolate and vanilla flavors that completely concealed the alcohol. I also got a taste of the Faraday Phenomena IPA (5.5%), a solid, well-balanced ale I could sip outside on their patio.

I would love to go back to Tonality, if only Mundelein weren't so far away. Perhaps, on my way back from Wisconsin next time I go up.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Harbor Brewing, Lake Villa

Welcome to stop #107 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Harbor Brewing, 136 Cedar Ave., Lake Villa
Train line: North-Central Service, Lake Villa
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes
Distance from station: 100 m

The North-Central Service doesn't have the worst schedule in the Metra system; it has the third-worst. With only 7 trains a day, and only one train going in the reverse-commute direction, it takes some planning to get from downtown Chicago to Lake Villa. And, sadly, the return train comes only 45 minutes after the Antioch-bound train drops you off.

Still, Harbor Brewing knows how to create a great beer garden and taproom. Like their Winthrop Harbor location (much easier to get to), they have lots of room outside, and lots of beers inside. The Lake Villa taproom opened in 2022 after they outgrew the Winthrop Harbor spot west of the tracks. (The lakefront location is still open.) Lake Villa is one village over from Wisconsin, so the train passed through some soybean and corn fields on the way up. But that far from the city means it's quiet and quite relaxing—even if you only have 40 minutes to spare.

Because of the short connection time, I only got two half-pours. The Full Sun New England pale ale (5.6%, 25 IBU) was decent, with nice hop/malt balance and a little bitterness that I liked.  I also enjoyed the Nature Walk pale ale (4.7%, 32 IBU) as a drinkable, easy beer for a summer afternoon.

I would definitely go back. And I may need to stop by their lakeside beer garden again this summer.

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

Industry Ales

Welcome to stop #106 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Industry Ales, 230 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago
Train line: All of them
Time from Chicago: not applicable
Distance from station: 100 m from Adams/Wabash, 1.6 km from Ogilvie Transportation Center

Chicago's newest brewery opened in April in what used to be Kramer's Health Foods next to the 125-year-old Central Camera store in the Loop. I am impressed.

My Brews & Choos buddy and I went there Wednesday directly after visiting Chicago's oldest continuously-operating brewery around the corner. She had a light lunch earlier in the day so she could save room for the vegetarian pierogis on Industry's all-day menu, which were definitely worth the wait.

We shared a flight of four beers. We both found the Zeal for Zielke New Zealand pale ale (5%) surprisingly bitter, but very clean for a pale, with along finish, an even palate, and no big flavors. The Out of Focus hazy IPA (5.5%) was lighter than expected, with some melon and orange notes. The County Clare Irish dry stout (4.6%) had a very dry, light mouthfeel, with coffee and chicory flavors that I loved and she did not. Her pick, the Hinomaru Japanese red ale (6.0%) was surprising (I don't typically like red ales), dry, light, balanced, with a quick finish. ("Light" came up in every discussion; maybe the pierogis affected our perceptions?)

The only odd note to the late-afternoon visit was the armed guard at the door. I asked co-founder Dan Rook about it, and he reminded me that the Loop has had some incidents in the last few years, not least of which when rioters burned out the Central Camera store next door in 2020. Fair point; but I can't imagine Spiteful needing that kind of security.

Still, we both liked Industry Ales a lot, especially its vegetarian-friendly menu. Given its proximity to Symphony Center, the Auditorium and Studebaker Theaters, and Millennium Park, I expect we'll get a bunch of people over there soon.

Beer garden? Sidewalk patio under the El
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Yes, full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Adams Street Brewery

Welcome to stop #105 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Adams Street Brewery, 17 W. Adams St., Chicago
Train line: All of them
Time from Chicago: not applicable
Distance from station: 100 m from Adams/Wabash, 1.3 km from Ogilvie Transportation Center

The Adams Street Brewery traces its history back to 1887, and has existed in the same location in the Chicago Loop since 1898. It stopped brewing during Prohibition, but the Berghoff Restaurant above the brew works remained open throughout. I doubt much has changed in the past 126 years except the prices and the clever beer names.

I decided against having lunch there when I visited yesterday, only because I had plans to meet friends later in the evening and I didn't want to gorge on the authentic German food from the Berghoff. Who doesn't want a $26 Wiener Schnitzel on a hot July day?

Instead I tried two beers, and a sip of my Brews & Choos buddy's as well.  The What-Duh Helles Lager (5.3%, 24 IBU) was a solid Helles, light, with banana notes, a long finish, and a malty but not too sweet body that would have gone great with the aforementioned Schnitzel. The Dat's Da Joose New England hazy (6.2%, 25 IBU) Definitely juicy, not particularly hoppy, and not much of a finish. My friend ordered Da Drizzly dry-hopped sour (4.0%, 10 IBU), which surprised me, as I don't typically like sours. It was clean and refreshing, not too sweet or sour, which my friend declared "very exciting." I thought it was OK.

I didn't find any mention of flights on the menu until after I'd ordered, when the bartender mentioned it in passing. (It's actually one of the only breweries I've been to that offers beer by the liter.) I might have tried a couple of others had I known. But given the brewery's location, and how long it has been there, I think I can find a way back...say, in mid-September?

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Yes, full German menu
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Holiday weekend

I'm about to leave the office for the next 4½ days. Happy Independence Day!

And who could forget that the UK will have a general election tomorrow? To celebrate, the Post has a graphical round-up of just how badly the Conservative Party has screwed things up since taking power in 2010:

There’s a widespread feeling among voters that something has gone awry under Tory government, that the country is stagnating, if not in perilous decline.

Nearly three-quarters of the public believes that the country is worse off than it was 14 years ago, the London-based pollster YouGov has found. More than 46 percent of people say it’s “much worse.” And to some extent, economic and other data back that up.

Before Brexit, a different word hung over Conservative policy: “austerity.”

Cameron pushed spending cuts intended to reduce government debt and deficit. The goal was never achieved — public debt this year hit its highest rate as a percentage of economic output since the 1960s — but austerity had many side effects, including huge cuts to local governments that hit services such as schools and swimming pools.

Britain’s beloved National Health Service was one of the few places to see funding rise in real terms during this period, but it mostly failed to match pre-2010 trends, let alone keep up with spiking inflation, immigration and the needs of an aging population. Under the Conservatives, waiting times for treatment have surged.

I'm sorry I can't be there tomorrow, but I will be there in September, eagerly questioning my friends about the election and its aftermath.

For this weekend, though, expect some Brews & Choos reviews, and probably some blather about other things as well.

Whoo boy

Apparently everyone else got over Covid yesterday, too. Or they're just trying to make deadline before the holiday:

Finally, the Post analyzed a ton of weather forecasts and determined that forecasting Chicago weather is a lot harder than forecasting Miami's. The only glimmer of good news: today's 7-day forecasts are at least as accurate as the 3-day forecasts from the 1990s.

Feeling a little better, weather a lot better

A cool front came through last night and I no longer want to take a shower every 45 minutes:

The dewpoint also dropped, from a sticky 26°C yesterday afternoon to a comfortable 13°C right now. Cassie and I will take advantage of this delightful development in about half an hour. I'm hoping we get a good 10-12 km in over two hours or so.

Speaking of weather, the WGN Weather Blog reminded me this morning of the twin derechos that tore through Northern Illinois 10 years ago today. And Facebook reminded me that I got drenched in the first one. Parts of Chicago got 100 mm of rain in as many minutes, while a poor town in Iowa got 207 mm in the storm. That's a lot of rain.

Sticky weather + cooped up with Covid = 2pm shower

Cassie and I have gone on two walks today, the first for 3.2 km and the second for 4.25 km, despite the really uncomfortable 26°C dewpoint. I mean, it's really gross out there. Fortunately because of the way dogs get rid of excess heat, it didn't bother her as much as it bothered me—the air is only 28°C, after all. But we both felt a lot better when we got back to my air-conditioned house. (Fun fact: my thermostat is set for 25°C, but the dewpoint inside is closer to 15°C which makes all the difference.)

Another person who values comfort over just about everything else is Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter, who on Thursday took a "legislative tour" of the transit system he ostensibly runs, prompting Chicago Tribune reporter Alice Yin to arch an eyebrow:

[T]he sight of many Chicago-based politicians partaking in the tour with Carter — who himself has drawn heat for not using CTA buses and trains more — raised the question why do they need a guide to familiarize them with their own city’s public transit agency?

[Chicago mayor Brandon] Johnson’s office did push the effort via a flyer from his intergovernmental affairs office that reads: “Legislative Tour featuring CTA, Chicago Park District, Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus and Chicago’s Urban Historian Sherman ‘Dilla’ Thomas.” His IGA head, Sydney Holman, also gave remarks, the CTA statement noted.

The description says the four-hour tour began at CTA’s headquarters in the West Loop before stopping at three locations “while experiencing transit as everyday Chicagoans on a quick Green Line ride on Chicago’s West Side.” Barreto’s post, meanwhile, said 10 state representatives, two state senators and seven aldermen joined Wednesday.

The flyer also notes: “Limited paid street parking available and one public lot at 180 N Jefferson $16.50 for 6 hours.”

I have a friend who works at Amtrak's head office because he loves trains. He and his wife took a 7-day vacation earlier this year, starting on the 46-hour Empire Builder train from Chicago to Seattle. Would it kill Patrick to maybe take the Red Line once in a while? Or maybe get a job doing something where he doesn't have to get a tour of the place where his customers spend all their time after having the job for several years?

Slow news day yesterday, not so much today

Lunchtime link roundup:

Finally, People for Bikes has consistently rated Chicago the worst major US city for biking, principally because of our 50 km/h speed limit. If only we'd lower it to 40 km/h, they say, Chicago would immediately jump in the ratings to something approaching its peers.

Really lucky timing this morning

I woke up at my usual time this morning, noticed how dark it was, checked radar, and got Cassie out the door less than 10 minutes later. Because by the time I had her to day camp and got myself to the Metra platform, it looked like this:

Waiting for the train, I got this:

But what luck, it let up just as the train arrived. The photo doesn't do it justice: those are horizontal rain bands, and I was standing behind a window.

By the time I got down to Ogilvie, we had this:

Again, just a bit of light rain as I walked the 300 meters from OTC to my office.

I would like to point out that Governor JB Pritzker (D) made my morning commute possible today, by restoring funding to the Ravenswood Metra station construction that took 12 years to complete because of his Republican predecessor's ideological cruelty. I really hope that Bruce Rauner goes to hell, and has to stand on the temporary, unsheltered platform for every minute that every commuter had to over the years we waited for the project to resume.

Now we're just waiting for the new Alstom train sets to arrive (probably 3 years from now) and for the electrification of the remaining diesel-powered Metra lines (probably 40 years from now). Apparently, though, adding a third track to the UP-N mainline between Rogers Park and Clybourn might happen before 2035. We'll see.