The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Ravinia Brewing vs Ravinia Festival

I first visited Ravinia Brewing early in the Brews & Choos Project, and liked it. In fact I have gone back several times, most recently a week ago Friday. I haven't yet visited their Logan Square taproom though, and because of the way trademarks and contracts work in the US, I may never:

In October, Ravinia Festival, the Highland Park outdoor concert venue known for its summer music series, sued the craft brewery for trademark infringement, court records show.

The brewery was born out of the Ravinia District of Highland Park in 2017 and opened its original location there in 2018.

In 2018, the brewery signed an agreement that allowed both parties to use the name, as long as the brewery complied with guidelines to ensure consumers understood there was no relationship between the two organizations.

The lawsuit alleges the brewery violated that agreement.

Brewery co-owners Jeff Hoobler and Kris Walker have called the lawsuit unjust and said the business is rapidly losing money because of legal expenses. They warned the business could close if the company keeps bleeding financially.

I've just read RBC's answer to RF's complaint, which includes the allegations in the complaint as per local rules. As with any lawsuit, we don't know the full story, and as this will probably never go to trial, we probably never will. It looks like the brewery and the Festival have some bad blood between them, for sure. But if the brewery's answer is accurate, this has all the feeling of trying to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer.

I hope the Festival and the brewery can come to a compromise here. I like them both.

Illuminated Brew Works

Welcome to stop #100 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Illuminated Brew Works, 6186 N. Northwest Hwy., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Norwood Park (Zone 2)
Time from Chicago: 22 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

It only took four years and a pandemic to get to the 100th Brews & Choos stop. When I stopped at Macushla in Glenview almost exactly four years ago, I thought I'd knock out all 90 or so breweries and distilleries in about 18 months. We all know what happened a month later...

Here we are at stop #100, and I'm happy to report it garnered a "would go back" rating.

Illuminated Brew Works has a bit of fun with its namesake, even calling its mailing list a "cult." They make really good beer, and they allow dogs, but fortunately no one tried to convert me to Belgian sour ales.

In fact, as I have a touch of bronchitis, I didn't drink much at all. The 120-mL pours I had were excellent. The Brony DDH DIPA (7.5%) was really smooth, and didn't taste at all like the strong beer the menu says it is. And the Millennial Munchies stout (13.5%), which I shared, was complex, sweet but not cloying, with malty coconut and chocolate notes.

I also had a sips of my friend's beers. The CULT stout (10%), which had real complexity but not a lot of sweetness, and the guajillo chiles they brewed it with really smacked me in the end. I didn't feel I could evaluate the Cherry Brainwash sour (7%) and Orange Sunshine Saison (5.4%), as I'm not a fan of those styles, but my friend assured me they were excellent, and particularly liked the cherry sour.

They have a quirky, no-fucks-given vibe that we particularly liked. We may have to bring Cassie and Butters here when it gets warmer.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? Snacks; BYOF encouraged
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Forbidden Root

Welcome to stop #99 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Chicago
Time from Chicago: 8 minutes
Distance from station: 1.1 km

After visiting three breweries on Saturday and having less than a full pint of beer at each, by 5pm we had worked up an appetite for food and for more than a couple sips of beer. So we walked the whole 800 meters from On Tour to Forbidden Root's first restaurant and brewery. (They also own Cultivate, in the Ravenswood Beer Corridor near Inner Drive Technology World HQ.)

Even before the beers, we ordered some beer cheese, which really hit the spot. I don't mean Merkt's out of the plastic container; this is hand-made whipped aged cheddar with a hint of beer and a spicy maple drizzle. On tasting that we also ordered some burrata, with pesto, tomato jam, parmesan chips, and Focaccia.

And then we tried some beers, still keeping our heads clear by sharing 150 mL pours, which worked all the way up until the last one.

The Halfway to Crazy West Coast IPA (6.2%) was halfway to piney, with some fruit, note and a clean, bitter finish that I enjoyed. The Snoochie Boochies double IPA (8%) really hop-slammed me; I noted its "strong, complex, interesting, fruity" flavors but also jotted down "caution required."

But then we tried the Call Your Mom Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout (12.9%). I wrote: "mmmmmmm. Chocolate, toffee, vanilla, all the good things. Yum!" And half an hour later, in the Lyft home, I just wanted to go to sleep. But I also would love to try that beer again, and I regret not taking a bottle home.

Finishing the day at Forbidden Root was exactly the correct choice.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

On Tour Brewing

Welcome to stop #98 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: On Tour Brewing, 1725 W. Hubbard St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Green and Pink lines, Ashland
Time from Chicago: 6 minutes
Distance from station: 700 m

Of the three breweries my friend and I planned to visit last Saturday, On Tour was our clear favorite. It helped that her employer has done several events there, one of which I attended before the pandemic, so we were both happy to go back. And, because there were two of us, we could try a full 5-pour flight without overtaxing our livers.

Here are our tasting notes:

  • Thalia Hall Pilsner (5%, 15 IBU): malty, lingering finish, not my cup of tea but well made.
  • Sleepy Fire Berlinerweißbier (4.2%, 15 IBU): I personally do not like Weißbieren., but I recognized this is a good example of the variety. My friend wanted to order a full pint after tasting it.
  • Apres black lager (5.2%, 10 IBU): Very interesting, and quite good. "Almost like a stout without the motor-oil feel."
  • Half Step American pale (5.7%, 45 IBU). Really hoppy, but finishes nicely. We once again had opposite reactions: she said it had a similar feel and finish to Half Acre Daisy Cutter, which she does not like, but I like Daisy Cutter and so liked Half Step.
  • Mercury hazy IPA (5.5%, 20 IBU): I wrote, "why can't I form an opinion of this? It's, I guess, good? I like it? Tasting notes are eluding me. But it's a good sippin' beer. Perfectly balanced, no one flavor dominating, does its job and steps back." She had a similar opinion.

We'll definitely go back this summer.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Goose Island Beer Co., Fulton taproom

Welcome to stop #97 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co., 1800 W Fulton St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Green and Pink lines, Ashland
Time from Chicago: 6 minutes
Distance from station: 600 m

Given Chicago's long association with Goose Island Beer, and my own review of their (now closed) flagship brewpub on Clybourn almost exactly a year ago, I haven't got much to add. Since InBev bought the brewery in 2016 and expanded to places like Seoul and Shanghai, it almost doesn't qualify as a local brewery anymore. And hey, I loved Goose Island 20 years ago. But selling to InBev really did make a difference.

But the Brews and Choos Project doesn't discriminate, so we went back to the Fulton Taproom and tried their newest beer, the No Plans Tasty Time pale ale. I wrote: "not too bad, not awesome."

And that's pretty much my review of their only remaining Chicago taproom. They plan to open a new flagship brewpub at the Salt Shed in the spring, and I'll review it in due course.

Bottom line, with a couple of truly wonderful taprooms nearby like Midwest Coast and On Tour, you can skip Goose Island and not miss anything special.

Beer garden? Patio
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Maybe

Great Central Brewing

Welcome to stop #96 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Great Central Brewing, 221 N. Wood St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Green and Pink lines, Ashland
Time from Chicago: 6 minutes
Distance from station: 500 m

Despite the cold yesterday, a friend and I set off to the West Fulton Corridor industrial area to visit a cluster of three breweries all within a few hundred meters of each other. First on the list: Great Central Brewing.

We liked the place, though it really leans into the "industrial" part of the corridor, with a cavernous interior and washrooms three flights up.

Still, we liked their beers. The dry-hopped Pilsner (5%) was nice: dry, not too malty, good finish. The West Coast IPA (6.5%) had a great hop mix and a long finish, with a hint of banana. We judged it "very good." And the Kick Push Hazy IPA (7.2%), a collaboration with Perch, was dryer than most hazies, with lots of banana, a bit of apple and apricot, and lingering bitterness.

We also liked that, by sharing three 150 mL pours, we barely dented our capacity for trying beers at our next two planned stops.

Beer garden? Rooftop planned, not yet open
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Busy weekend

I grabbed a friend for a couple of Brews & Choos visits yesterday, and through judicious moderation (8-10 oz of beer per person at each stop), we managed to get the entire West Fulton Corridor cluster done in six hours. So in a few minutes I'll start writing four B&C reviews, which will come out over the next three days.

Before I start, though, I'm going to read all these stories that have piled up since Friday:

Finally, the Roscoe Rat (really a squirrel) Hole got its own NPR story this morning. And in my social media I saw a photo of someone proposing to her boyfriend at the rat hole. Color me bemused.

Old Stove Brewing, Seattle

Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Olkd Stove Brewinig, 1901 Western Ave., Seattle
Train line: Sound Transit, University St
Time from Chicago: about 4 hours by air
Distance from station: 400 m

Except for picking the coldest weekend in years to visit Seattle, I enjoyed the Pike Place Market a lot. At its north end I found the Old Stone Brewing Co., with a view of the Puget Sound that would have knocked my socks off if doing so wouldn't immediately have led to frostbite. Even being inside a place with "Stove" in its name didn't help as Seattle buildings generally don't approach insulation the same way Chicago buildings do. Nice views, though.

Still, spending $18 and 90 minutes in the place kept me warm and got me an extra 75 pages through the excellent polemic I'm reading, Cory Doctorow's The Lost Cause. (I should finish it today on the plane.)

They have two brewer's-choice flight options plus a DIY option. I didn't feel like having 6 beers s I chose 5 from their long list and sipped. From left to right: the Old Stove Pilsner (4.2%, 35 IBU), the Streaker Citra pale (5.7%, 30 IBU), their flagship Two Pronged Crown IPA (6.66%, 53 IBU), the No One Knows hazy IPA (6.2%, 25 IBU), and the Dark Passage American stout (7%, 46 IBU). All tasted great, and I'd drink any of them if presented. I liked the No One Knows the best. The stout was less stout and more dry than anticipated, but still good enough to finish the 100 mL sample.

Next time I'm in Seattle, I'll choose a warm, dry day to sit outside this place with a full pint. Possibly my friend's dog, too.

Beer garden? Yes, looking over Puget Sound!
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Two, avoidable, but only showing 1950s through 1970s beer commercials
Serves food? Full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Revolution Taproom

Welcome to stop #95 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Revolution Brewery & Taproom, 3340 N. Kezie Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Belmont
Time from Chicago: 18 minutes
Distance from station: 700 m

Revolution's main brewing facility and taproom is the granddaddy of independent Chicago breweries. I've already reviewed their brewpub (about 2½ km from the taproom), and longtime readers know I like their beer a lot. So this Brews & Choos stop was more about checking in at an old favorite than trying new beers.

I had a Hazy Hero IPA (7.3%), one of my favorites and one of their best-sellers, and I think the same one I had when I reviewed the brewpub. My friend, however, ordered the Ryeway to Heaven barrel-aged rye wine (15%) along with one of their less-deadly beers. Wow. I would love to try that again, but only in small doses. So much flavor!

I only have one complaint, that the area around Belmont and Kedzie isn't really fun to walk through. The taproom is only a ten-minute walk from the Belmont Blue Line stop, though, so unless you're buying cases of beer, you don't need to drive there.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? Snack menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Hopewell Brewing

Welcome to stop #94 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Hopewell Brewing, 2760 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

The second stop on the "research expedition" my friend and I took on Saturday didn't excite us as much as BiXi or Revolution. My friend decided that Hopewell is what you get when you tell an AI to design a Logan Square taproom. She's not wrong.

We tried six beers—well, I tried five, because I really don't like göse—and compared notes:

  • Lightbeam hazy IPA (6.3%): nice, light, fruity, good finish; my favorite
  • As If West Coast DIPA (7.5%: Pow! Huge hops, big flavor, a little banana, clean finish
  • Long Shadows winter IPA (7.5%): a little syrupy, a bit heavy, not our favorite
  • Ride or Die pale (5.5%): good balance, nice acidity, very drinkable; my friend's favorite
  • Going Places IPA (6.8%): Lager, malty, syrupy, apricot, very good
  • Table Salt göse (4.5%): A hint of saltiness, and the cardamom gives it a unique flavor

So, it's not bad, but it's not someplace either of us particularly felt like seeing again. At one point I mused that it would be much more welcoming if they lined the ceiling with anechoic tiles, but loud is in vogue these days. On to the next stop.

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