The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lovely Sunday, pretty warm Monday

The last three days—i.e., the first three days of Summer—have shown us most of the weather we can expect this season. It rained most of Saturday, yesterday we had cool, sunny, and eminently walkable weather, and today it's hot and sticky with thunderstorms on the way. At least Cassie and I got to spend most of yesterday outside.

In other news:

Finally, a really fun video from Berlin setting an old German tongue-twister to a beat has garnered more TikTok views than Beyoncé. Apparently Germans, especially those named Barbara, really love their rhubarb pies.

Massive expansion to the north

Just doing a quick review of the Brews & Choos-eligible establishments within 2 km of the Milwaukee Amtrak station this morning, I discovered that seven breweries and a distillery have opened since the project started. Accounting for the demise of Milwaukee Ale House, that brings the total to 11 breweries and 2 distilleries. I'll have to make two trips. Now all I have to do is find a weekend...or two...or three...

Duke of Perth moving

I first went to the Duke of Perth in June 1993, about four years after it opened.

Today will be the pub's last day at their 35-year-old location on Clark St., after the property owner* doubled the rent. A bunch of us regulars and bartenders from the old days got together yesterday for one last whisky:

The place really hasn't changed much since 1989, which is how it maintained its charm. That, and the patio, where I had more than a few first dates:

When I lived in the neighborhood, I did so much freelance work at Table 5 that I referred to it as my remote office:

Sadly, I never ponied up to have any of these three whiskies before they were gone:

Three of us popped over to the new location, still under construction at 2834 N. Broadway, about two blocks away. Broadway has a lot more foot traffic than Clark, so the Duke's owners expect more people will walk in out of the cold. That said, after seeing the new space, I have no idea where they'd put the fireplace. And the new space will never get direct sunlight because the building across the street shades its only window. They can have five or six tables on the sidewalk, but that's not a beautiful, shaded walled garden.

Still, Colin has pulled off miracles before, saving neighborhood gem La Crèperie from closing in 2013. He doesn't do anything rash, so I have to guess he's had his eye on the new space since the previous restaurant closed in October. But it's still a sad day, losing one of my favorite pubs in the world.

*This landlord has kept storefronts vacant on Clark for so long that he inspired new legislation a couple of years back.

Heads-down research and development today

I usually spend the first day or two of a sprint researching and testing out approaches before I start the real coding effort. Since one of my stories this sprint requires me to refactor a fairly important feature—an effort I think will take me all of next week—I decided to read up on something today and have wound up in a rabbit hole.

Naturally, that means a few interesting stories have piled up:

Finally, Lagunitas Brewing will move its brewing operations back to Petaluma, Calif., (which is a million times better than Megaluma!) and close its Chicago taproom this summer, so I suppose the Brews & Choos Project should get its ass over there pronto.

Demo Brewing

Welcome to stop #104 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Demo Brewing, 1763 W. Berteau Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood. (Also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (zone 2)
Distance from station: 1.1 km (400 m from CTA)

The newest brewery on Malt Row opened March 29th just 2 km from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters and less than 500 meters from the CTA. I had a lot going on in April so I didn't get to check it out until last weekend. Cassie came with and met a couple of friends while my friends and I tried some of their beers.

For a variety of reasons, including Cassie wanting to meet every other dog in the place and the humans wanting to, you know, talk to each other, I didn't take detailed tasting notes. I had a pint of the Brunch Goblin Brut IPA (7%, 32 IBU), which I found refreshing and light, despite its strength. Given its proximity to my house, and its open-door policy to dogs, Cassie and I will return probably over Memorial Day weekend when I'll try a few other beers.

It won't replace Spiteful as my third place, but Cassie and I will put it in rotation along the south end of Malt Row with Dovetail and Begyle.

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

MobCraft Brewing

Welcome to stop #103 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: MobCraft Brewing, 101 N. Johnson St., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 200 m

Between the perfect weather, the really good beer, and the view of the Woodstock Town Square, my Brews buddy and I really enjoyed our visit to MobCraft last weekend. I mean, doesn't this just make you want to sing "The Pennsylvania Polka?":

But back to the beer. We tried two flights, again, this time with no overlaps:

  • Crush: Tropic Wave fruit beer (6%): Not my favorite at all, even after one sip. She: "This tastes like what you give to your high school girlfriend who's too classy for White Claw." (To clarify, in this scenario, you're both in high school, she wants to make clear.)
  • First Time in a Long Time copper lager (4.8%): Not a big impression. A decent basic lager, good malt, crisp enough for summer.
  • Juni-perfect Saison (6.5%): Beautiful scent, quite tart, she didn't expect to like it and did, I had the reverse experience and just wrote "NOPE!" in my notebook. (This is why we review these together.)
  • Out of Office light hopped ale (4.5%): Decent, drinkable, neutral palate, "nice on a hot summer day," would buy.
  • Squeezin' Juice IPA (6.7%): I liked the good Citra hoppiness, nice finish, and drinkability; she wasn't a big fan and said "tastes like Daisy Cutter." Nonetheless we bought some for the 90-minute train trip back to Clybourn.
  • Vanilla Wafer Porter (7%): Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, really smooth, not too sweet or strong. She: "That's good, I like that!"

The brewery has two taprooms, one upstairs with smaller rooms off the main bar and lighter beers, and one downstairs with jail cells and darker beers. (The building used to be the sherriff's annex to the historic town hall next door.) It looks like it would be cozy in the wintertime, especially if you're trapped for 10,000 days in Woodstock on February 2nd.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Healthy, happy dog once again

Cassie and I just got back from her vet, with a good 2 km walk in each direction and treats at both ends. The semi-annual wellness check was only $88, and pronounced Cassie in perfect health. Even her weight (25 kg) is exactly what it should be, so I can start adding a little kibble to her meals if we walk a lot.

Of course, the heartworm pills were $230 and the fecal test was $107, so not everything about the checkup was great. Le sigh.

Also, it's warm today: 27°C for both walks, which is more like June 14th than May 13th (normal high: 20.9°C). I even had the air on last night. But I can see a cold front approaching from the west, with an expected temperature crash around 6pm and temperatures barely above 10°C (March 24th!) tomorrow. I'm glad we got our walks in already—looks like the first thunderstorm could hit before 3pm.

And check back tomorrow and Wednesday for two more Brews & Choos reviews from this past weekend, including a brand-new brewery that just opened 2 km from my front door.

Holzlager Brewing

Welcome to stop #102 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Holzlager Brewing, 150F S. Eastwood Dr., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 1 km

Woodstock isn't the farthest Metra station from downtown Chicago; that honor goes to Harvard, which is almost 20 minutes farther out. But getting to Woodstock by train on a weekend takes about 2 hours when you have to change trains at Clybourn. And no small irony, the train taking me the one stop from home to Clybourn was 30 minutes late, cutting our overall travel time by that amount.

My frequent Brews buddy and I went to the town, made famous in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, and spent a few hours wandering around and drinking beer. We stopped first at the farthest (walkable) brewery, Holzager, which turned out to be at the end of a strip mall off a stroad just outside the historic section of town.

At least they have an outdoor space, which we found pleasant despite the traffic noise. And they make pretty decent beer. We each got a flight of four 150 mL pours, and tried 7 beers total (we both had Clown Hammer):

  • Agrarian Pale Ale (5.4%, 36 IBU): lots of hops, nice finish, some malt.
  • Clown Hammer AIPA (7.6%, 63 IBU): big hops, big malt, big flavor, maybe some banana and apricot notes. The brewery's #1 seller.
  • Fruit Warmer: the fruit rounds out the hop bitterness; big pineapple and apricot notes.
  • Let Go My Belgo Pale (6%, 26 IBU): "I love the name. It tastes like it's designed like a Belgian but lacking the complexity."
  • Malina Raspberry Ale (5.7%, 14 IBU): Uncomplicated, and tastes like real raspberry.
  • Moostache Milk Stout (5.7%, 18 IBU): Burnt notes, with coffee and a little chocolate, but thinner texture than expected. My friend added, "it's like an Imperial stout, but where's the ABV?"
  • Wooly Haggis Scotch Ale (10.1%, 26 IBU): very malty at first but changed after the initial few moments, with a very long finish. Again, some banana notes, which we pretty consistently tasted in all their beers.

We both want to explore Woodstock a bit more, but probably not this summer. And probably not in the beginning of February, either. Cute town, passable first brewery.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? Yes
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Maybe

New Brews & Choos reviews soon

My frequent Brews buddy and I trekked out to Woodstock, Ill., yesterday, and visited the two breweries in town, then took Cassie to the newest brewery in my own neighborhood. I'll be going through notes and photos later today, so expect the reviews up tomorrow through Wednesday.

Meanwhile, for some reason, Minnesota unfurled a new state flag yesterday:

Minnesota's new flag went into official use Saturday, which has many wondering why the state adopted a new flag. The controversial replacement of the old flag requires an explanation of that emblem's history.

The legislature established the State Emblems Redesign Commission during the 2023 session to redesign Minnesota's flag and seal.

The reason for the change, according to state officials, was twofold. Primarily, officials were concerned with the scene depicted on the old flag, which many found offensive. First adopted in 1957, the flag showed a White settler tilling land as an Indigenous man rides horseback. Indigenous members of the State Emblem Redesign Commission said it was harmful to their communities and promoted the "erasure" of their people from the land.

Here's the flag. Enjoy:

Two houses, unalike in dignity...

I'll lead off today with real-estate notices about two houses just hitting the market. In Kenilworth, the house featured at the end of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles can be yours for about $2.6 million. If you'd prefer something with a bit more mystique, the Webster Ave. building where Henry Darger lived for 40 years, now a single-family house, will also soon hit the market for $2.6 million. (That house is less than 300 meters from where my chorus rehearses.)

In other news:

Finally, Industry Ales, the new brewery-taproom at 230 S. Wabash Ave., hopes it survives. So do I. But I'll make sure to get it on the Brews & Choos reviews list very soon.