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Everywhere & In-Between - June 2013 Archives

deep in the pockets of random beer culture

TTFest Redux: To Minnehaha and Beyond
Posted Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 by emerge

Where to start... Borrowedladder and I braved the rush hour traffic in Chicago to make it to TT's in Minny at a reasonable hour. We left around 4 and arrived at 11ish. Loaded up with plenty of supplies, once we got there the pork shoulder and brisket were just coming out of the oven :ohyeah: Realizing that setting up our tent in the dark would cut into precious drinking time, we opted to crash in the basement, aka the valley of snoring beasts... 

First beer of the night was Pineapple Exhaust (go big or go home). Woof. Then Bakes fell asleep. :old:

Around this time, Bob started ripping ass and it never let up. Deco posed with some encased meat, and we gorged ourselves on pulled pork and smoked sausage. Last beer of the night was Dark Lord, which got left out until morning somehow. 

In the morning we were treated to the breakfast stylings of Swagqueen, which was glorious. Smoked salmon, bacon & eggs, so good. 

Beers started off with Flower Child Berliner and EvilKeith lived up to his name with a Bolt Cutter. It had poured since the early morning, and some campers weren't so lucky. Keith was manning the mash paddle, dumping the excess water off of the main canopy. Howardf headed up a 9am b-double-e-double-r-u-n to Casanovas in the pouring rain. Golden Nugget growlers were acquired, as well as some Berliner. Chili was on the stove when we got back, and soon after the lambic brewing began in the garage. Borrowedladder and I made a saturday afternoon run for Surly and other locals at Blue Max & Heritage. I was happy to find some Olvalde Farm Rhubarb Saison and Indeed Daytripper, and Aaron found a rare Springbank. 

Shot of a few happy campers and the local wildlife:

 

Once we got back, the brisket was nearly gone, but I scooped up a couple of remaining slices, and it was so tasty. In the garage the brewing was finishing up, and there were about a dozen empty bottles of lambic on the table. Luckily I got to try some Upland Persimmon & Sour Reserve, thanks to Deco and Howard (I think). Around this time we had a little charcuterie-palooza, all the George's stuff got unloaded (suva govedina, kulen), and Howard busted out his spicy cannonballs. We were dipping tortilla chips in the chili, which was tasty and brought the heat. Later we grilled up a couple dozen cevapi (lamb/beef kebab sausages) which got scarfed up in 15 minutes or less. Late afternoon we started passing beers around outside, which lasted late into the night. The rain held off and it was a great night. Nightcap for me was some of TT's Citra pale ale and everyone played numerous rounds of Cards Against Humanity. I crashed out first and luckily didn't wake up with drawn penises on my face. :unsure:

The next morning, Deco opened a breakfast kriek, which in hindsight wasn't the best idea that early on an unsteady empty stomach. Everybody said their goodbyes early and we headed to Key's to load up on breakfast. On the way back we hit a few stores and apparently avoided some hail outside of Madison. 

All in all an excellent TBS Fest weekend, looking forward to the next one already...

 

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A Tale of Two Isaacs, or Kiwi-Spotting on Route 66...
Posted Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by emerge

Labor Day weekend usually finds me deep in the rural backwaters of central Illinois. This time it just so happened the remnants of tropical storm Isaac were blowing over during the trip. This meant intermittent blasts of zero visibility on I-55, sunshine on one side of the road, grey/black thunderheads on the other side. Welp, I wasn't going to let that put a dent into my plans...

Isaac

Sunday afternoon I embarked on points south of Springfield, intending to make a growler stop at the new brewpub downtown, Obed & Isaac's, after checking out the historic Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, IL (about 45 min. south). There was a hairy storm or two along the way, but pretty short-lived for the most part.

About 15 minutes before the Litchfield exit, I noticed an electric blue convertible on Route 66, which parallels I-55 to St. Louis. Later as I was leaving the Ariston, I noticed the same car in the parking lot, apparently the group inside were from New Zealand on some sort of Route 66 cross-country road trip tour. 

The Ariston Cafe is the oldest operating cafe on the entire Route 66 route, and has been in business since 1924. 

Ariston Cafe

It was a cool old building with vintage neon signs and the interior was a fun time warp. Think roadside diner with a little dash of Twin Peaks thrown in. There was a mounted marlin on the wall, a salad bar, lunch counter, and a small table up front showcasing the beer selection, around 20 bottles including Chimay, Goose IPA, Honkers, and Red's Rye.

Service was prompt and friendly, I had a fresh Weihenstephaner served with the proper glass. 

Only tried an appetizer but it was pretty interesting, roasted tomato jam, feta, olives and pita. Lots of hearty dishes on the menu, and an old school dessert tray with a dozen pies. The Ariston is a fun pit stop if you appreciate roadside Americana and hearty food. There just so happened to be a decent beer selection too, which was just icing on the cake.

On the way back, the storms broke long enough to get back downtown to Obed & Isaac's. They actually put a historic house on a flatbed and set it up adjacent to their brewery. If you're ever passing through Springfield, it's a pretty fun little place to check out.

Got a growler of their Long 9 Black IPA (8.2%) which was very roasty and pine laden, incredibly light and smooth for the abv.

Returned just in time for a fish fry, and had some Schlafly American IPA & Pumpkin Ale to wind down with that night...

    


Gettin' Galactic in the Glen...
Posted Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 by emerge

So today I came across a post about finding good beer in unlikely places, which inspired me to recall this recent beerhunting episode. 

Technically not Forest Glen (in Jefferson Park), but right near the Metra stop there sits this unassuming place:

Rabbits

(credit: chicagogeek, flickr)

Stumbled across it on beermenus, lo and behold they listed Galactic Double Daisy on tap (and maybe still do). What the hell, it's off Elston, i'll bike on over there. 

Well they did have it, and at the advertised price of $5. Pretty sweet. It's been sold out since day one virtually everywhere else, which was during craft beer week a couple months ago (at the TBS Blind Robin pre-Goose cornhole). Oddly enough Rabbit's had a pretty great beer selection for being a very divey dive practically on the edge of civilization. Four Revolution taps, and a Grand Teton on special for $2 (!?!). "Who drinks all these?" I thought as I watched the middle aged after work crowd mostly swilling Miller Lite. One guy swiftly drank an Alpha King from the bottle and was on his way. There was a crew of nearly a dozen regulars that mostly seemed to be blue collar neighborhood residents... old guys with white hair, grimy jeans, and leathery tans from decades of construction. A few Irish and Polish accents in the crowd. Nary a beer nerd in sight, and regular bar prices... maybe this is heaven.

The bar had two rooms, the main bar room and a side room for bands and table seating. Behind the backward-L shaped bar was a tiny grill that looked like it hadn't changed since the 50's. Taped up on one wood paneled wall was a printout of their beermenus list, and an FFF poster that simply said "We're watching you" with a big brother-style graphic. The bartenders were friendly, and everyone seemed to be on a first-name basis. Asked a guy if an empty bar seat was taken, and he grunted "Yeah" and that was it. Definitely an outsider, oh well. I'll drink a delicious DIPA to drown my sorrows. Make that two... Watched a little WGN news and was on my merry way. 

So the vibe was a little odd, but alright... and the beer selection was pretty nice. Rabbit's is a very unlikely oasis for the area, and if you're passing by, stop in and you might be surprised by what you find. 

2013 update: Been back in a couple of times, and the regulars do warm up to you, it all depends who you run into. They update on beermenus fairly regularly, though seemingly have gotten wise to the craft beer bar pricing scheme. BCS is a $1 an ounce now, but i'm not complaining :) 

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Beer Bleerg II: The Christening
Posted Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by emerge

And away we go... 

christening

...inspired by ender's "blog challenge", it's about time I got with it.

Watch this space for travelogues, photos, reviews, and the occasional random drunken rant. :furley:

If there's anything you'd like to see here, fire away... 

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