The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Not the pub crawl anyone expected

A group of pub-goers in Yorkshire got trapped with an Oasis cover band after freak snowfall made the area impassible:

Dozens of people, mostly strangers, spent the weekend snowed in together at the remote pub after heavy snowfall blocked the exits.

The Tan Hill Inn, which calls itself the U.K.'s highest pub, was hosting the band Noasis when snowfall made leaving the area dangerous for staff, musicians and pub-goers.

So they stayed — and stayed and stayed — all weekend, waiting for the danger to pass.

The band was trapped at the pub as well, causing them to miss their next gig in Essex. "We're very sorry to announce that we are stranded in Yorkshire, snowed in at the venue after last night's gig at The Tan Hill Inn," the band wrote on Facebook.

I mean, I guess there are worse places to be trapped. At least they had food and beer.

Public Craft Brewing, Kenosha

Welcome to stop #65 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Public Craft Brewing, 716 58th St., Kenosha, Wis.
Train line: Union Pacific North, Kenosha
Time from Chicago: 1 hour, 40 minutes (Zone K)
Distance from station: 800 m

As our music director sometimes says with a pained look on his face, "there were a lot of good things in there." So with Public Craft Brewing, which seemed entirely the opposite in many ways from Rustic Road just around the corner. The high ceilings and well-lit seating area felt a lot less intimate than Rustic Road, for starters, though I complement Public Craft on keeping the music low enough that no one had to shout.

I spoke to one server who said the space felt like a furniture store. And then I spoke to another server who said the space was a converted furniture store. They even kept some of the furniture, which looked quite comfy.

I sat at the bar, however, and had a 4-beer flight while chatting with the bartender and his partner. They do make good beers. The Reality Czech Pilsner (5.0%) had more hop flavor than I expected, but still kept the light, clean feel and finish of a good Pils. Strangely, I had no first impression at all of the Bits & Pieces Mosaic IPA (6.1%), but on second tasting I got plenty of hops (but not the hop porn I've come to hate) and a good fruity flavor balance. The Lakeshore Haze New England IPA (5.4%, 14 IBU) had good citrus as one would expect, and a surprising amount of malt flavors. Finally, the Chocolate Birthday Cake Imperial Stout (9.5%) lived up to its name. Wow, that one was a lot of flavor, and like Rustic Road's porter, a good dessert beer.

Beer garden? Sidewalk patio, seasonal
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? None
Serves food? Yes, specializing in tacos
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Maybe

Rustic Road Brewing, Kenosha

Welcome to stop #64 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Rustic Road Brewing, 5706 6th Ave., Kenosha, Wis.
Train line: Union Pacific North, Kenosha
Time from Chicago: 1 hour, 40 minutes (Zone K)
Distance from station: 900 m

Kenosha, Wis., is the end of the line for the Metra Union Pacific North Line. It takes a while to get up there, longer than to any other Metra station. (The South Shore Line isn't a Metra railroad.) Plus, the weekday train schedules make a day trip nigh impossible Monday to Friday. So yesterday I left Cassie to her own devices and hauled on up to the Badger State.

I really liked Rustic Road. The brewery moved into its current downtown storefront in 2018, and seems to have gone out of its way to hire quirky and fun servers and bartenders.

I tried a $9 flight and a decent chicken Caesar salad. First, the Helles Belles Lager (5.1%, 18 IBU) had a not-too-syrupy, well-balanced malt profile and a clean finish, a good expression of the Helles style. The Haze Craze #10 New England IPA (6.1%, 35 IBU) had a slow build to real fruit flavors, some of which came from their experimental BRU-1 hops. The latest Haze Craze (#11, Triple New England IPA, 6.24%, 40 IBU) had tons more hop flavors than #10, and really exploded on the palate. I wound up getting a full pint of it with my salad, because after tasting the Highland Porter (9.1%, 32 IBU) and its huge coffee , vanilla, and chocolate flavors, I realized I had to save that one for dessert.

If I visit Kenosha again, I'll stop in.

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

Winter is coming...

...on Wednesday. And to remind us of this, yesterday didn't get above freezing at my house. It finally went above freezing at 3:04am, according to my thermometer. And at Chicago's official weather station at O'Hare, yesterday was the coldest day since February 21st.

Today won't get too much warmer. Still, in about 90 minutes, I'm taking the Brews & Choos Project out of Illinois for the first time. Kenosha, Wis., has two breweries within a couple of blocks of each other and the Union Pacific North Line's northern terminus. Cassie had a stomach issue on Thursday, which for reasons I won't explain but you can infer, turned out to be a hunk of one of her toys. So she will have a quiet day at home while I almost finish all the stops on the UP-N.

Short-term license agreements

Today is the 50th anniversary of DB Cooper jumping out of a hijacked airplane into the wilds of Washington State. It's also the day I will try to get a Covid-19 booster shot, since I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow that I'd have to cancel if I wind up sleeping all day while my immune system tries to beat the crap out of some spike proteins in my arm.

Meanwhile, for reasons passing understanding (at least if you have a good grasp of economics), President Biden's approval ratings have declined even though last week had fewer new unemployment claims than any week in my lifetime. (He's still more popular than the last guy, though.)

In other news:

Any moment now, my third DevOps build in the last hour will complete. I've had to run all three builds with full tests because I don't always write perfect code the first time. But this is exactly why I have a DevOps build pipeline with lots of tests.

New brewery opening Saturday

I had planned for Saturday to cap off the Union Pacific North Line segment of the Brews & Choos project with a trip up to Kenosha. I'll still visit the now-infamous city this weekend, but it turns out, I'll have one more spot to visit before completing the first entire Metra line:

Elements of Cultivate by Forbidden Root, which opens Saturday, will seem familiar to anyone who set foot in Band of Bohemia during the six-year run for the Michelin-starred restaurant and brewery that carved out one of the most unique niches in American dining before declaring bankruptcy last year.

But Forbidden Root’s second Chicago location aims to create a unique niche of its own after owner Robert Finkel acquired the airy Ravenswood location and everything inside earlier this year at auction.

The makeover for Cultivate by Forbidden Root (4710 N. Ravenswood Ave.) also includes an adjacent taproom and private event space expected to open in December with another 16 draft lines, half of which will be guest taps. Snacks will be served there, but no full meals.

Since the new brewery is directly adjacent to the Ravenswood Metra stop just over a kilometer from my house, I expect to stop in early next week.

Koval Distillery, Chicago

Welcome to stop #63 on the Brews and Choos project.

Distillery: Koval, 4241 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago
Train line: UP North, Ravenswood (also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 13 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 1.2 km (Metra), 500 m (CTA)

Koval is the granddaddy of Chicago distilleries. Conventional wisdom is that Koval's owners, Drs. Robert and Sonat Birnecker, taught all the other Chicago distillers how to make spirits. Conventional wisdom is also that everyone else does it better. I think that misunderstands the Birneckers' palate somewhat, as their Austrian style of distilling produces different flavor profiles than the techniques Americans prefer.

Personally, I find their spirits a bit harsh. But in their brand-new tasting room, their bartenders make excellent cocktails. I had one of the best Old Fashioneds in Chicago on Friday, on their beautiful marble bar in their very European-style tasting room.

I mean, just look at that. It could be in Vienna or Berlin, that tasting room. And in the summer, they have tons of outdoor, dog-friendly seating. I'd recommend the place as a first-date spot on its own, or as the place to go after dinner at Rojo Gusano next door on a second date.

Outdoor seating? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? No
Serves food? Charcuterie, nuts, dessert
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Twisted Hippo, Chicago

Welcome to stop #62 on the Brews and Choos project.

Note: A massive fire destroyed the brewery on 21 February 2022.

Brewery: Twisted Hippo, 2925 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Brown Line, Francisco
Time from Chicago: 38 minutes
Distance from station: 700 m

I will say this: Twisted Hippo has awesome beer names, and I respect the way they portray Africa's deadliest animal as kind of cute. And inebriated.

I was less impressed by their brewpub than I had hoped, though. It seemed more like a suburban pizza joint than a brewery, despite the large brewing vessels and aforementioned beers.

I mean, that's just loud, visually at least. They kept the music to a comfortable level, else I'd have gotten totally overstimulated.

They use Toast for ordering, so you don't actually interact with a human being before choosing food and beer unless you sit at the bar. I tried the Midnight Revere Milk Stout (5.3%), a solid example of the style, with chocolate and coffee galore and a smooth-as-silk finish. It paired well with my pulled pork "sando."

I finished with the C-HOP 137 IPA (7.2%), which had more hops than a rabbit warren, and underwhelming malt notes. I like hops, and I like IPAs, but this one was too much for me.

They don't have a patio (sorry, doggies) but they do have an enormous back room with pinball machines and live music from time to time.

Also, I should note that East Albany Park and Ravenswood Gardens, the two neighborhoods north and east of the brewpub, are freakin' gorgeous. They were developed in the late 1910s and early 1920s as suburban retreats from the hustle and bustle of the city, so they're chock full of cute "affordable" bungalows that would have set you back about $1,600 when built and go for about $700,000 today. (There's also that godawful modernist piece of crap at 2907 W. Wilson that you have to see to believe.)

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Yes, but they only advertise beers
Serves food? Full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Maybe