The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Ballast Point Brewing, Chicago

Welcome to stop #10 on the Brews and Choos project.

Distillery: Ballast Point Brewing, 212 N. Green St., Chicago
Train lines: All Ogilvie and Union Station lines. (Also CTA Green/Pink lines, Morgan)
Time from Chicago: 0 minutes (Zone A)
Distance from station: 1.2 km from Ogilvie or Union (400 m from CTA)

After expanding a bit too quickly, Ballast Point found itself without enough cash and way too many beers to continue profitably. Highwood-based Kings & Convicts (stop #3 on Brews & Choos) bought it out and has just begun merging operations.

Ballast Point's Chicago taproom makes a couple of beers that you can only get on premises. All their other beers come from California. And wow, do they have a lot of beers. This set of taps covers about half of them:

I tried four, left to right described below:

Their Fathom IPA (6%) was a good, solid IPA, with a light flavor that I found malty for the style. The Sculpin IPA (7%) was more hop-forward with grapefruit notes and a good finish. The High Ryes porter (6.3%), a Chicago specialty you can only get in the taproom, had a chocolate and caramel nose, a smooth finish, and a delicious taste. Finally, the Sextant nitro Imperial stout (5%) had a subtle nose, and even more subtle flavor, that was a bit disappointing after the porter.

I'll go back because I know one of the bartenders. But I didn't really like the vibe at all. I lost count of the number of TVs and couldn't find a place in the entire large space where I could avoid them.

Beer garden? Yes (rooftop)
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Ubiquitous, unavoidable
Serves food? Full menu, pub food
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? See above

£53,676 per pour

A single 750 mL bottle of whisky sold at auction this week for £907,500, the highest price ever paid for a bottle:

A European buyer [won] the 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami 60 year old on February 17, 2020, setting a record for Scotland’s most expensive whisky ever auctioned.

It’s also the sixth standard-sized whisky bottle ever to achieve $1 million at auction, and the third-highest auction price ever achieved for a bottle of whisky. Even with the lower premiums charged by online whisky auction houses, this sale unambiguously surpassed the previous record for the Valerio Adami bottle, set in 2018.

That works out to £1,210 per millilitre, or £46,537 per ounce, slightly more than the highest-priced whisky at Duke of Perth (Macallan 25, $73 per ounce, $110 per pour).

Note that the whisky was already 60 years old when it went into the bottle in 1926, meaning Macallan distilled it about a year after the American Civil War ended.

I wonder what it tastes like? If I had a million dollars, I might find out.

CO2 like you've never seen it before

New research shows that global CO2 levels will likely hit 417 ppm this year, the highest ever in human history, and a level not seen since the oceans were 20 m higher:

This year's rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is expected to be 10 percent higher than normal, according to University of Exeter geography professor Richard Betts, head of the climate impacts division at the Meteorological Office, the U.K.'s national weather service. About 1 percent to 2 percent of the increase will come fromAustralia's devastating wildfire season, [said Martin Siegert, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London].

Australia's historic fires, which raged from September through early February, are thought to have unleashed about 900 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

When the planet last had an atmosphere that mirrored today's chemical makeup, Earth was in the midst of the Pliocene Epoch. During that geologic period, which lasted from about 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago, humans had yet to appear on the planet, and average sea levels were up to 20 m higher than they are today. Global average temperatures were also around 3°C warmer, with temperatures at the poles likely double that, according to Siegert.

Well, here in Chicago, we're 183 m above sea level. If we were 163 m above sea level it would take us a lot less time to get to the Mississippi Delta by Vicksburg, Miss., or to the Atlantic Coast in Richmond, Va. (I'd really miss Boston and London, though.)

On the other hand, unless Lake Michigan drops about 4 m by Saturday, we're looking at the second consecutive month of record lake levels, after the record year we had in 2019.

Flat Earther died trying to prove it

Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes, who either believed the world is flat or merely played the role of a Flat Earther, died Saturday trying to launch a home-made rocket in an effort to "prove" the belief:

In December, buttressed by his conviction and advances in homemade rocketry, “Mad” Mike Hughes flipped on a camera and fantasized about the moment when he shows mankind that it lives on a verdant disk.

The plan: Float dozens of miles high in a balloon, then fly a rocket to the Karman line, the 62-mile-high barrier that separates the atmosphere and the cold vacuum of space, filming the entire way. “For three hours, the world stops,” Hughes said during a live stream, imagining the reaction.

Justin Chapman, a freelance reporter, witnessed the launch while reporting a longer story on Hughes. The rocket’s green parachute tore away moments after takeoff, sending the crowd of 50 or so people into a panic, he said.

Hughes’s support team went to inspect the crash site about a half mile away, Chapman said, and returned with the harrowing news: Hughes was dead, the rocket had pancaked, and the other three parachutes never deployed.

I believe this fits the Greek definition of "tragedy" perfectly.

By the way, here is proof the Earth is a spheroid:

CH Distillery, Chicago

Welcome to stop #9 on the Brews and Choos project.

Distillery: CH Distillery, 564 W. Randolph St., Chicago
Train lines: All Ogilvie and Union Station lines. (Also CTA Green/Pink lines, Clinton)
Time from Chicago: 0 minutes (Zone A)
Distance from station: 200 m (400 m from CTA)

CH Distillery (named after carbon and hydrogen, principal ingredients in alcohol) opened in 2013 with a mission to create "the only organic vodka made from Illinois grain and a variety of core and specialty spirits." They no longer distill much of their stuff at their downtown restaurant, having opened a much larger facility in Pilsen. But they still give tours on Randolph Street.

For $13, they will give you a flight of 4 spirits. I tried their vodka (smooth and sweet with a bit of harshness in the tail), key gin (made with lime and lavender, described as "like Hendrix" but not really), London dry gin (very dry and juniper forward, would go well with tonic), and their Bourbon (101 proof, 2 years old, MGP alcohol, not ready yet).

Because of its proximity to downtown and its upscale drinks and food, CH is a popular date spot. I quite like it every so often.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? Small plates, charcuterie
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Dastardly Do-Right?

Via reader ML, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have stepped in it over protests on First Nations land in northern British Columbia:

Canadian federal police had “no legal authority” to make ID checks and searches on activists seeking to block a pipeline project on Indigenous territory, according to newly released correspondence from the force’s oversight body.

The nine-page letter written by Michelaine Lahaie, chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, offers scathing criticism of the police’s continued use of tactics against Indigenous people which she had previously warned against.

In recent weeks, demonstrations have sprung up across the country, blockading major railway lines and obstructing access to ports and government buildings.

On Thursday, Canada’s largest rail operator, CN Rail, obtained a court injunction giving it permission to remove a blockade in St-Lambert, a suburb of Montreal.

Al Jezeera has an overview of the issues:

Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who hold authority over their land, say they were not properly consulted on the 670km (416-mile) Coastal GasLink pipeline. The company says it reached agreements with 20 elected First Nations band councils. In December, the BC Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink an injunction to continue work on the pipeline. 

Following the arrests of Wet'suwet'en land defenders about two weeks ago, tensions have mounted as solidarity actions have grown across the country, with many calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to solve the crisis.

"This is not a new resistance," said [lawyer Sylvia] McAdam, one of the founders of Idle No More, a movement born in 2012 in response to parliamentary bills that threatened Indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections.

"I think today we're reaching a boiling point where Indigenous people are so tired of the racism, they're tired of colonisation, they're tired of protecting and defending (rights and land)," she told Al Jazeera.

McAdam said Canada needs to reckon with its past and pay the debts it owes First Nations.

I'll be checking back on this story as it unfolds.

Sketchbook Brewing, Evanston

Welcome to stop #8 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Sketchbook Brewing, 821 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Ill.
Train line: Metra Union Pacific North, Evanston–Main St. (Also CTA Purple Line, Main)
Time from Chicago (Ogilvie): 20 minutes, zone C
Distance from station: 100 m (200 m from CTA)

I love Sketchbook, and have loved it since it opened a few years ago. I've visited many times, often after getting some excellent Italian food at Campagnola next door. And long after the Brews and Choos project finishes up, I'll keep going back to Sketchbook whenever I find myself near Main and Chicago.

On my most recent visit, I just had a pint of No Parking Citra Pale Ale, a delicious, low-alcohol (4.4%) pale. But I've never had a bad beer there. And at my most recent house party, we emptied a growler of No Parking in no time at all.

Until recently, the taproom included a bar, a few tables, and barely enough room to pass the bar when it got crowded. And then this winter this happened:

Nice work, guys! And I also love that it had a good crowd for a Saturday evening.

Beer garden? Yes, in back
Dogs OK? No
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

Friday afternoon reading backlog

I was going to lead off with a New Republic article about Michael Bloomberg, but they just put up a paywall yesterday and lost my subscription information. And their new "subscribe now" page doesn't work. But why would anyone need to test software before deploying it to production?

Anyway, that wasn't the only article that interested me today that I'll read later on:

Finally, it's going to be warmer than usual this weekend, so I'm going to add some Brews with my Choos.

Rot from the head

Both New Republic and the Post come to the same conclusion on the latest from both the Republican and Democratic sides. First, TNR looks at the president's "clemency binge:"

Those rewards send a powerful signal to Trump’s allies who are still caught up in the criminal justice system. There’s ample evidence that the president has dangled his clemency powers as a means to keep associates from testifying against him. Trump publicly floated the idea of pardoning Paul Manafort in 2018 while his former campaign chairman was under pressure to testify in the Russia investigation. One of Trump’s lawyers reportedly discussed a pardon for former national security adviser Michael Flynn with Flynn’s lawyers two years ago. The president even personally raised the possibility of pardoning Roger Stone, who is set to be sentenced for lying to Congress on Thursday, to his advisers in recent weeks. Tuesday’s pardons and commutations help normalize what is surely coming to his long-suffering loyalists after the 2020 election, if not sooner.

Trump himself will also personally benefit from the clemency spree. With the stroke of his pen, he all but negated thousands of man-hours spent by the Justice Department over the past three decades to convict defendants who stood accused of serious offenses: bribery and corruption, fraud and tax evasion, lying to investigators and deceiving the public, and more. Trump can’t reverse the financial and personal toll that those cases imposed on their targets. But he can delegitimize the federal government’s anti-corruption efforts and undermine the notion that it can hold the wealthiest and most powerful Americans accountable for their actions.

And Greg Sargent, on Elizabeth Warren ripping Michael Bloomberg a new one at last night's Democratic debate:

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians,” Warren said, right at the outset. “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk,” Warren continued, adding: “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”

That, of course, is an indictment not just of Bloomberg (who has his own history of demeaning women) but also of Trump: The president is a disgusting misogynist and a racist in his own right, and he’s engaged in nonstop corrupt self-dealing, facilitated by concealed tax returns — and a corrupted system.

Because both things are true: Trump and Bloomberg represent the system protecting its own. And that has to stop.

Smylie Bros. Brewing Co., Evanston

Welcome to stop #7 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Smylie Bros. Brewing Co., 1615 Oak Ave., Evanston, Ill.
Train line: Metra Union Pacific North, Evanston–Davis St. (Also CTA Purple Line, Davis)
Time from Chicago (Ogilvie): 23 minutes, zone C
Distance from station: 200 m (400 m from CTA)

First, as much as I'd like to link to their website, it appears they've lost control of their domain name to a fraudulent, virus-infected host. Good luck with that, guys.

Smylie Bros. opened a couple of years ago in the ever-expanding zone of downtown Evanston. It's a former garage, I believe, and they've kept the high ceilings and acoustically alive space. (That means it's loud.)

My first note on entering: "This is what some corporate dude thinks a taproom should be like." That was my impression on leaving, too.

I had a flight of small pours comprising their Pale Ale (6%), EEE-PA (6%), Wolcott IPA (6%), and Appleseed Porter (8%). The Pale was competent, the EEE-PA was fruity, the Wolcott was juicy, and the Appleseed was the best of the lot.

Judging by the mix of families, sports fans, and Northwestern students, I don't think I'm the right demographic for this one.

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