The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Chicago Distilling Co., Chicago

Welcome to stop #61 on the Brews and Choos project.

Distillery: Chicago Distilling Co., 2359 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, California
Time from Chicago: 14 minutes
Distance from station: 300 m

It's dangerous to have such a great distillery two doors down from a great brewpub. It's also convenient, when you're out with friends and want to have a cocktail after having a pile of pub food.

Chicago Distilling makes really good spirits, full stop. And they've recently launched a line of ready-to-drink cocktails, making all the spirits and mixers in-house.

After visiting Revolution on Friday evening, my friends and I ended the evening with three varieties of Old Fashioneds for them and a 60 mL sample of their single-malt Rauch whiskey for me. It tasted as smooth and malty as a solid Speyside Scotch, with just enough smokiness to suggest a blend with a good Islay. I'll try to find some in stores; it's worth another taste.

Outside space? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

The Empire State Trail

The kids today don't know how good they have it. When I lived in New York more than 20 years ago, I would have gotten on a bike and ridden this trail:

Last December, the Empire State Trail — a sprawling, 750-mile cyclist and pedestrian route that connects Buffalo to Albany and New York City to the Canadian border, forming what looks like a sideways T — opened to the public. Considering the pandemic bike boom, the timing was perfect.

About 400 miles of greenways, repurposed rail lines and bike paths already existed in New York. So, when the $200 million project was announced in 2017, the state rushed to fill in the gaps between them.

Where new bike trails were not possible, blue-and-yellow signs were installed on roads signaling the way, and some guardrails were added to protect cyclists from vehicular traffic.

The result — a combination of protected paths, city streets, highway shoulders and country roads that pass by small towns and cities — offers views of wetlands, waterways, grasslands and mountain ranges. It is a showcase for New York State’s history and natural beauty.

Of course, before my knees told me I had to stop biking, I also planned to ride RAGBRAI, so maybe this wouldn't have happened. Still: the kids today have opportunities my generation never had.

And they should get off my lawn.

Revolution Brewpub, Chicago

Welcome to stop #60 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Revolution Brewpub., 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, California
Time from Chicago: 14 minutes
Distance from station: 200 m

I've enjoyed Revolution beers for such a long time I can't really review them like I do the ones I've just met. When I met some friends for dinner at their brewpub (cf. the Revolution Taproom on Kedzie), I did try a new (to me) beer, the Hazy Pitch New England IPA (5.0%).

Like the rest of their lineup, it has excellent flavor and balance, and I'm glad I got to try the limited-edition brew.

I also had a very tasty hamburger, and cheese curds with homemade Buffalo sauce.

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

Slouching towards fascism

The software release yesterday that I thought might be exciting turned out to be fairly boring, which was a relief. Today I'm looking through an ancient data set of emails sent to and from some white-collar criminals, which is annoying only because there are millions and I have to write some parsing tools for them.

So while I'm decompressing the data set, I'll amuse myself with these articles, from least to most frightening:

Whee! WinZip has finished decompressing all 517,000 files. Now to write a parser...

Nice bit of news from the UK

The Department of Health and Social Care now allows visitors to the UK to satisfy their testing requirement with a £22 lateral-flow test, rather than the more expensive (and invasive) PCR test:

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from countries not on the UK’s red list can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR from today (24 October 2021).

Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day and can now be purchased from the list of private providers on GOV.UK from as little as £22 – significantly cheaper than PCR tests.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which can be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants. PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering in the usual way through NHS Test and Trace – via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.  Test providers will be expected to advise people to self-isolate and direct people towards the NHS Test and Trace booking page.

This also means I can pick up a test from a provider and take it back in my hotel room, rather than schedule an hour-long interruption in my day.

Weekend reading

As the last workday in October draws to a close, in all its rainy gloominess, I have once again spent all day working on actually coding stuff and not reading these articles:

Finally, a 97-year-old billionaire has given $240 million to UC Santa Barbara on the condition they build a 4500-room dormitory so awful (think Geidi Prime) the school's consulting architect resigned.

Crisp fall morning

Cassie and I both love these crystal-clear autumn days in Chicago, though as far as I know she spent her first two autumns in Tennessee. Does Nashville have crisp fall mornings? I don't know for sure, and Cassie won't say.

I meant to highlight these stories yesterday but got into the deep flow of refactoring:

I will now make Cassie drool buckets by using salmon skin as a training tool.

Ale's well that ends well?

The Tribune yesterday reported that local breweries have started producing more lagers as people get tired of IPAs:

Lager accounts for most of the beer sold in the world — including the 16 biggest-selling brands in the United States — but it has rarely been a recipe for success for craft breweries, which often default to ratcheting up experimentation, flavor and intensity. Lager, by contrast, tends to be approachable and predictable. Think Miller Lite. Michelob Ultra. Modelo Especial.

While tropically fruity India pale ales and boozy stouts remain engines for the nation’s small breweries, the industry has increasingly embraced lager in recent years. And consumers are rewarding them with surprising demand.

Around Chicago, the shift can be seen in the growing number of lager-centric breweries, including Goldfinger, Kinslahger in Oak Park, and Metropolitan and Dovetail on the city’s North Side.

Established breweries, including Hopewell, Revolution and Maplewood, are increasingly incorporating lagers into their portfolios while newer breweries, such as Art History in Geneva, have opened with an embrace of lager that would have required a leap of faith a few short years ago.

For Art History, it is already paying off; open just 18 months, the brewery is planning a new, larger production facility, due in large part to its lagers, which account for three of its four top sellers.

I typically evaluate a brewery by its mainline IPA, but in some cases (notably Dovetail), I'll go with their flagship lager. And I have yet to visit most of the breweries the article mentions, so I'll take their advice.

Evening reading

I was pretty busy today, with most of my brain trying to figure out how to re-architect something that I didn't realize needed it until recently. So a few things piled up in my inbox:

And finally, Whisky Advocate has four recipes that balance whisky and Luxardo Maraschino cherries. I plan to try them all, but not in one sitting.

Happy Mason-Dixon Day

On this day in 1767, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon completed their survey of the disputed Maryland-Pennsylvania border, which became even more contentious in 1780 when Pennsylvania aboolished slavery. A group of surveyors started re-surveying the border in 2019; I can't find out whether they finished.

Meanwhile, 255 years later, politics is still mostly local:

Finally, Chicago has perfectly clear skies for only the third time this month after yesterday and the 4th, getting only 39% of possible sunshine for almost the past three weeks.