The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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

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

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

Two big wins for all of us

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation this morning:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Tuesday he would resign from office, succumbing to a ballooning sexual harassment scandal that fueled an astonishing reversal of fortune for one of the nation’s best-known leaders.

Mr. Cuomo said his resignation would take effect in 14 days. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will be sworn in to replace him.

“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Mr. Cuomo said from his office in Manhattan. “And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

The resignation of Mr. Cuomo, a three-term Democrat, came a week after a report from the New York State attorney general concluded that the governor sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, including current and former government workers, by engaging in unwanted touching and making inappropriate comments. The 165-page report also found that Mr. Cuomo and his aides unlawfully retaliated against at least one of the women for making her complaints public and fostered a toxic work environment.

Good. He needs to go. And yes, I am happy that my party threw the book at one of our own. We hold ourselves accountable, unlike the other guys.

But that's not all the Democratic Party did today. We also passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the Senate with the support of nine Republicans:

The 69-to-30 vote follows weeks of turbulent private talks and fierce public debates that sometimes teetered on collapse, as the White House labored alongside Democrats and Republicans to achieve the sort of deal that had eluded them for years. Even though the proposal must still clear the House, where some Democrats recently have raised concerns the measure falls short of what they seek, the Senate outcome moves the bill one step closer to delivering President Biden his first major bipartisan win.

The bill proposes more than $110 billion to replace and repair roads, bridges and highways, and $66 billion to boost passenger and freight rail. That transit investment marks the most significant infusion of cash in the country’s railways since the creation of Amtrak about half a century ago, the White House said.

The infrastructure plan includes an additional $55 billion to address lingering issues in the U.S. water supply, such as an effort to replace every lead pipe in the nation. It allocates $65 billion to modernize the country’s power grid. And it devotes billions in additional sums to rehabilitating waterways, improving airports and expanding broadband Internet service, particularly after a pandemic that forced Americans to conduct much of their lives online.

If this bill becomes law, it's possible that within my lifetime the United States could have the same quality of roads, bridges, and trains that Western Europe has today. (NB: I expect to live at least another 50 years.)

Meanwhile, as if to underscore this week's IPCC report, the dewpoint outside my window right now has almost reached 26°C, giving us a delightful heat index of 38.7°C. Even Cassie didn't want to be outside for her lunchtime walk.

Update: the 2pm readings at O'Hare show even lovelier weather: temperature 33°, dewpoint 25°C, heat index 40.4°C. Bleah.

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.