The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Half Acre Beer Co., Balmoral Brewery

Welcome to stop #28 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Half Acre Beer Co., Balmoral Brewery, 2048 W Balmoral Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood (Also CTA Brown Line, Damen)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 1.7 km (1.6 km from CTA)

Half Acre actually operates two locations: its original brewpub on Lincoln Ave., and its newer and much larger brewery/restaurant/beer garden just south of Rosehill Cemetery. Both are on the Brews and Choos list, but the beer garden is open this summer while the Lincoln Brewery only has curb-side pickup.

I'm actually cheating a little. You'll have to walk more than 1,500 meters from the Ravenswood Metra station to get to the Balmoral Brewery, but Half Acre makes excellent beer and you'll have to pass two other taprooms (Empirical and Spiteful) to get here. It's worth the trip—especially if you make a summer afternoon of all three.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, you'll need a reservation that costs $15.45, which they apply to your bill. Also they've temporarily curtailed food service and dogs on the patio.

As for the beer, their Daisy Cutter Pale Ale (5.2%) has remained one of my go-tos for years. Try their other pales and IPAs when you visit; they're all excellent. And see what else they've made that month.

When they don't have a raging pandemic to deal with, they serve good pub food including weekend brunch.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Suspended during the pandemic
Televisions? None
Serves food? Suspended during the pandemic
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Sketchbook Brewing Co., Skokie Taproom

Welcome to stop #29 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Sketchbook Brewing Co. Skokie Taproom, 4901 Main St., Skokie
Train line: CTA Yellow Line, Dempster-Skokie
Time from Chicago: 48 minutes
Distance from station: 900 m

I have gone to Sketchbook Brewing in Evanston for years, so naturally I made a special trip to their Skokie Taproom for its grand opening last Friday. We had perfect weather, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and good beer. The brewery occupies the front part of a 1950s-era light-industrial building next to the CTA, under high-tension power lines, on a medium-busy street—but don't let that stop you.

As they had just opened that afternoon, they had a couple of operational hiccups, but nothing that detracted from our enjoyment. I stuck with the Orange Door IPA as they had just finished a run of the No Parking Citra IPA and didn't have any in Skokie that night.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, they require reservations. And a tip: If you're coming from downtown Chicago on a weeknight, change to the Linden-bound Purple Line Express at Belmont and shave 10 minutes off your trip.

Beer garden? Yes, in front
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? None
Serves food? Snacks only; "BYOF" (bring your own food) policy
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Spiraling out of control

First, this chart:

And yet, there are so many other things going on today:

The one bit of good news? Evanston-based Sketchbook Brewing, who make delicious beers and whose taproom inspired the Brews and Choos project, will open a huge new taproom in Skokie tomorrow evening. And guess what? It's only 4 blocks from an El stop.

Working later than usual

I kind of got into the flow today, so things to read later just piled up:

And wait—you can make risotto in an Instant Pot? I might have to try that.

Busy morning

Just a few things have cropped up in the news since yesterday:

Finally, the Covid-19 mitigation rollback announced yesterday has led to Guthrie's Tavern closing permanently. Guthrie's, which opened in 1986 and featured board games and good beer, will pour its last pint on Thursday.

No debates unless...

Tom Friedman gives Joe Biden some good advice:

First, Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. Biden has already done so, and they are on his website. Trump must, too. No more gifting Trump something he can attack while hiding his own questionable finances.

And second, Biden should insist that a real-time fact-checking team approved by both candidates be hired by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates — and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled.

Of course, Trump will stomp and protest and say, “No way.” Fine. Let Trump cancel. Let Trump look American voters in the eye and say: “There will be no debate, because I should be able to continue hiding my tax returns from you all, even though I promised that I wouldn’t and even though Biden has shown you his. And there will be no debate, because I should be able to make any statement I want without any independent fact-checking.”

We'll see. But really, Biden has no reason to debate Trump otherwise. (Note: I am a financial contributor to Joe Biden's campaign.)

In other news:

Back to coding.

Oak Park Brewing Co., Oak Park

Welcome to stop #27 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Oak Park Brewing Co., 155 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park
Train line: Union Pacific West, Oak Park
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 700 m

Oak Park Brewing Co. is the first brewpub in Oak Park since 1872, when the village went dry. Yesterday evening an old friend and I donned masks and sat outside in the perfect weather to have pub food and, in my case anyway, beer.

From left to right, I sampled: the Leprechaun Zombie (4.1%, 26 IBU), a smooth nitro stout that reminded me of Guinness if Guinness had flavor; London Britches English porter (5.6%, 33 IBU), a malty, complex brew with lots of different flavors as befits a porter; Helles Other People (4.9%, 18 IBU), a nice, light Munich lager; Baby Got Bock Maibock (7.0%, 23 IBU), an interesting bock I might have to have again soon; and finally the Mary Hoppins APA (5.4%, 38 IBU), a well-balance, not-too-hoppy pale ale that was so good I had another couple of pints.

Their wings were very good as well.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Sort of: the Village says no, but...
Televisions? Yes, 2
Serves food? Yes, full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

In the news this morning

Vox has called the US Senate Democratic Party primary in Kentucky for Amy McGrath, but the main national outlets don't have it yet. [Note: I have contributed financially to Amy McGrath's campaign.] So while I wait for confirmation from the Washington Post (or, you know, the Kentucky State Board of Elections), here's other fun stuff:

Finally, Jeffrey Toobin attempts to explain "Why the Mueller Investigation Failed."

Update: NBC calls Kentucky for McGrath.