The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Is/Was Brewing, Chicago (preliminary report)

Welcome to stop #113 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Is/Was Brewing, 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood (Also CTA Brown Line, Damen)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone 2)
Distance from station: 600 m (1.6 km from CTA)

If this façade seems familiar, it's because this storefront has a long history of making adult beverages. Until September 2022, Urban Brew Labs lived here; before they moved in, Koval Spirits called it home. And last week, Is/Was opened their long-awaited taproom after buying much of Urban Brew Labs' equipment and furniture at auction. I popped in for a couple of minutes last Sunday.

They opened a week ago Thursday, quietly, hoping to build some buzz around the neighborhood while they finished getting everything together. Currently, their quasi-outdoor space contains a bunch of boxes and bottles of beer, and they haven't gotten their custom-made, 4-meter communal table, which will go roughly in the center of the area shown above. They plan a Grand Opening in August, which Cassie and I will attend, but until then they're only open Thursday and Friday evenings, and weekends.

Most of their beers are Saisons, a style I don't particularly like. But I did try their Table Beer, a 3.2% delight I expect to have if I take Cassie over there on a weeknight. They plan to add some more bourgeoise beers, including an English pale and possibly (they grimaced when they told me this) an IPA. You know, for the people who don't appreciate Saisons.

But I do appreciate that the newest taproom in Chicago is only 350 meters from my front door, and they welcome dogs and people who just want to drink a 3.2% beer while hanging out. I can't wait to see everything come together for them.

Beer garden? Not yet
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? None
Serves food? No; BYOF encouraged
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

End of Thursday link roundup

Lots of stories in the last day:

Finally, comic genius and Chicago native Bob Newhart has died at age 94. He was a national treasure.

Wait, a tornado hit where, exactly?

Monday's derecho spawned so many tornados in Northern Illinois that the National Weather Service hasn't yet confirmed the paths they all took. But one of those paths got my attention:

That's, uh...that tornado ended at the front door of the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where I get off my morning commuter train, which is 300 meters from my office. It went straight down Madison Street from Racine to Canal. That does not usually happen.

And yesterday, this one little punk rainstorm dumped almost 10 mm of rain on the North Side in 15 minutes:

Notice the blue dot (i.e., where Cassie and I were caught). I put a video up on social media if you want to see how much fun she and I had at Spiteful last night. Fortunately we got to Spiteful a good minute before it started pouring. Unfortunately I underestimated how much water would descend on us, so we went inside for a bit before returning to the patio with a rag.

Now the NWS predicts "isolated showers" this afternoon as well. I really have had enough of this New Orleans-level heat and moisture. Tomorrow should be cooler and drier, though.

Breezy night in Chicago

A full-on derecho ploughed through the Chicago area last night, bringing spectacular rainfall and at least 10 tornados—one of which hit the Near North Side:

While few injuries were reported related to the storm, a woman in Northwest Indiana died after a tree fell on her Cedar Lake home. Laura Nagel, 44, was pronounced dead and identified by her family after storms ripped through the area Monday night, the Lake County, Indiana, Coroner’s Office said.

At least 10 tornadoes were reported in the Chicago area Monday night — including two at O’Hare and Midway airports and at least two others in the far western suburbs as severe thunderstorms returned to the Chicago area, knocking out electricity for hundreds of thousands of residents.

“We are seeing power flashes on both the O’Hare and Midway Airport webcams due to likely tornadoes and/or destructive wind gusts near those areas,” the National Weather Service tweeted shortly before 10 p.m. “Continue to take these warnings seriously!!”

Tornado sirens started going off in my neighborhood around 7:30pm and came back several times before the derecho passed around 10:30pm. I took Cassie out at 9:30, and she did not want to linger. I can't blame her; here's the radar picture:

I could totally understand why Cassie, who walks past firecrackers without flinching, did not want to stay outside any longer than it took to do her business. Possibly because the sirens were wailing.

Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much damage in my neighborhood. Not as much flooding as I expected, either, given that my rain gauge measured 20 mm in half an hour. (Fun fact: 20 mm of rain is 1 tonne of water every 50 square meters. Clouds may look light and fluffy but they mass in the millions of tonnes.)

Today we're back to muggy and sticky, with really high dewpoints, despite the lower temperatures. Thursday, however, looks lovely: 24°C with a 14°C dewpoint and sunny skies.

18th St Brewery, Gary, Ind.

Welcome to stop #112 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: 18th Street Brewry, 5725 Miller Ave, Gary, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, Miller
Time from Chicago: 57 minutes
Distance from station: 200 m

It turns out, 18th Street Brewery's Miller Taproom doesn't have a production facility, so it wouldn't qualify after the July 2023 update to the Brews & Choos Criteria. But it was on the list from the beginning, so it stayed. And Saturday's visit might have been the only time I've ever been in Gary voluntarily.

The thing is, their beer is really good. We only tried three, mainly because of the heat and that we'd already tried 12 beers throughout the day (but, nota bene, only about 500 mL—one EU pint—in total volume for each of us). I got myself a Candy Crushable APA (5%), which was light, malty, with a great hop profile, and great flavor. We also tried the King Reaper DDHIPA (8%), which was much lighter than expected with a lot of fruity notes, and the Patio Pills (5%), just the right beer for a 37°C heat index.

I might not go back to the Miller Taproom, but unfortunately the main 18th Street Brewery is 2.4 km through Hammond, Ind., from the South Shore Line. (There is a proposed South Shore Line extension from Hammond down to Munster that could not only bring the main 18th Street Brewery facility into the Brews & Choos Family, but also make 3 Floyds accessible, depending on where they site the stations.)

Would we make a special trip to Miller? Probably not. But Miller has some vacation homes by the beach less than 2 km from the brewery, and I hear the Miller Pizza Co. has some good pies. Not to mention, a brand-new, double-tracked South Shore Line that gets there in just under an hour.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? None
Serves food? Some pub grub, BYOF allowed
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Zorn Brew Works, Michigan City, Ind.

Welcome to stop #111 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Zorn Brew Works, 605 E. 9th St., Michigan City, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, 11th St/Michigan City
Time from Chicago: 84 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m

Zorn Brew Works provided a nice contrast to Shoreline Brewery, as tourists seemed to make up 90% of Shoreline's clientele and about 25% of Zorn's. It makes sense, as Zorn is in a more residential/transitional area, and Shoreline is about ten steps from the beach. It does help that Michigan City has signs pointing to both along all of the major streets, though.

Once again, we tried a handful of 150 mL samples. The Pilsenzorn American lager (4.8%, 10 IBU) had a lot of flavor for a Pils, with a long finish and a good malty balance; my buddy, who generally hates Pilseners, liked it—like Mikey. The Hey Man! New Zealand pale ale (6%, 33 IBU) also had a lightness and a malty, full flavor that was perfect for the mid-July heat. The Red Devil Red IPA (6.6%, 70 IBU) had bitter, big hops, and a strong citrus finish. That left the Major Galaxy's Full Nelson DDH hazy IPA (7%, 35 IBU) and it's weird (to me) finish that only one of us liked, and the Golden Grain cream ale (6%, 15 IBU), which my notes say was "Huh.  Smooth. Interesting. Unusual."

They definitely have an aesthetic. And food, which, after our big lunch an hour earlier, we didn't try but we heard was pretty good. But between the two Michigan City breweries, I would probably hang out at Zorn more often.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Somewhat avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Shoreline Brewery, Michigan City, Ind.

Welcome to stop #110 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Shoreline Brewery, 208 Wabash St., Michigan City, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, 11th St/Michigan City
Time from Chicago: 84 minutes
Distance from station: 1.4 km

It took 4½ years of Brewing and Chooing to get to Indian, because the Northern Indian Consolidated Transit District added a second mainline track to the South Shore Line from 2021 to just this past April. This ended the street-running through Michigan City, but shortened the trip from Downtown Chicago by 30 minutes at rush hour. During the project, however, NICTD ran buses between Michigan City and Gary, effectively cutting off three breweries from the Brews & Choos Project.

I finally got out there yesterday, despite the heat and humidity. First stop in Indiana: the Shoreline Brewery, just steps from the Amtrak station and about 1400 meters from the South Shore Line. (Why didn't I take Amtrak? The train schedule would have stranded me in Indiana for six hours. Nobody wanted that.)

So, I mean, it's fine. It's huge, with four outdoor spaces and at least three indoor rooms, plus a half-open bar area where I sat with my Brews & Choos buddy. They do have good food and beer, though. To go with my elote mac & cheese, and my friend's Margherita pizza, we got seven (7!) samples.

From left to right, they are: Duality Steam Beer (5.5%), Don't Panic English-style Pale (5%), Shoddy Dock session IPA (4.15%), Sum Nug American IPA (7.5%), Hop Drop, and Roll American Pale (5.4%), Bleacher Bum session hazy IPA (4.7%), and Lost Sailor Imperial Stout (10%). My friend especially liked the Hop APA, while I wanted more of the Duality (which reminded me of Anchor Steam, my first real beer) and the Lost Sailor—the latter in small quantities.

Not a bad place, if you find yourself in Michigan City. And it's only a 5-minute walk from the beach.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Only in bar area
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Millennium Park before the millennium

I don't know the provenance of this photo, but it appears to be taken from near the top of the Prudential Building at 135 E. Randolph St., summer of 1968:

Here's approximately the same view from last year (via Google Earth):

What a difference 55 years makes. I especially like how we removed all the surface parking lots and hid them under the park. And I'll be there—under the park—tomorrow morning for another Brews & Choos expedition.

In other Chicago history, today is the 45th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park.

People doing it completely wrong

If he were even a tiny bit better as a human being, I might have some empathy for the old man clearly suffering from some kind of dementia who spoke in Doral, Fla., yesterday. But he's not, so I don't. I mean...just read the highlights.

In other news:

Finally, I got two emails through the contact-us page from the "Brand Ambassador & Link Approval Specialist" at a little company in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick demanding that we remove a link from a post to their site. Each email was clearly the output of an automated process that must have scraped every post on The Daily Parker—all 9,479 of them—more than once, because each email had a different fully-qualified domain name and most of the links they included were for category or history pages. Clearly the BALAS hadn't actually read the post that contained the link. 

The request read: "We kindly request the immediate removal of these links to SchengenVisaInfo.com from your page because SchengenVisaInfo maintains strict editorial control over the information it provides. As such, we do not endorse the linking of our website without our prior consent."

This is dumb for several reasons. First, the emails provide clear evidence that they ran a bot over The Daily Parker more than once, which is rude. Second, this particular link could only benefit the complaining firm as it appeared in context as a way of finding out more about exactly what the company offered. And finally, before you send an email like that, you should confirm that the site you're complaining to won't ridicule you and your firm in a subsequent post.

Of course I removed the link. There are many better sources of information on the topic out there.

(Note to self: remove the company's name before posting!)

Tuesday afternoon links

It has started raining in downtown Chicago, so it looks like Cassie and I will get wet on the walk home, as I feared. I still have a few tasks before I leave. I just hope it stays a gentle sprinkle long enough for us to get home from doggy day care.

Just bookmarking these for later, while I'm drying out:

  • Researchers concluded that the problem with online misinformation and epistemic closure comes from people, not technology. Apparently we generally look for information that confirms our existing biases. Who knew.
  • Chicago has more lead pipes than any other North American city--and more regulation, labor issues, and general corruption, too. We might replace all the pipes by 2075; not so much the corruption.
  • Shocking absolutely no one, a study has found that drinking alcohol on an airplane is worse that doing it on the ground.

Finally, former US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) died today, just as climate change once again contributed to a massive storm flooding neighboring Texas. I mention that because Inhofe, who served in the Senate until he was 88 years old, refused to believe that the planet had gotten warmer, and did his best to keep the US from entering the 21st Century by any reasonable measure. Oh, and he was also an asshole pilot who once nearly hit a bunch of construction workers because he wanted to land on a closed runway. He may be mourned somewhere, but the Daily Parker is glad to see him underground. So, presumably, is the FAA.