Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rock Bottoms - Not All the Same

I was reminded on a recent visit to the Rock Bottom brewpub in River North, that this chain has a good setting wherever you go, but the quality of the local brew master makes or breaks the actual quality of the beer offerings. I was specifically reminded again that Rock Bottom Chicago has a stellar brew master in Pete Crowley.

The regular offerings from RB on the little plastic sheet are regular, average beers for the non-discriminating crowd. I suppose a few Rock Bottoms only have these choices. The interesting ones are on the chalk board behind the bar. I counted about 6 on a recent evening. I quite enjoyed the just released Maibock, malty and full bodied, with a slick mouthfeel. As well the Belgian strong made a good accompaniment for the chocolate cheese cake, yummy! Unfortunately, because they are a chain the website is no help, you can't see what's on tap unless you call or go there. Not so good.

Anyway, I give the Chicago location an A-, for offering good food, really good beer, and I do love the mug club which gives you special treatment including full imperial pints! Had one visit to the location in Lombard, give it a B, the food was similar, but the beers not.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So That Explains Why I CAN Drink Good Beer

It took the Freakonomics guys to explain it, so it's not just our tastes evolving, it's also our income! Yes, I knew that, you did too, why else were you drinking Old Milwaukee in college!

By the way, dudes, it's Belgian dubbels, not dobbels.

Friday, May 2, 2008


This month the Session, the monthly beer blog where beer bloggers around the world blog on the same topic on the first Friday of the month, is hosted by Boak and Bailey. The topic is when did you see the light and become a beer lover?

For me I can date it to Early April 1999, which would be just after my 41st birthday. It was my first Cubs opener (being a White Sox fan I usually avoided Cubs games unless it was deep in the Summer). Now the light didn't come to me at the game, at that time beer still sucked at Cubs games, even today it's hard to find a decent micro there, but back then 'twas impossible. No, the light came to me because this was a group outing organized by my new friend Ed McDevitt (discussed his background with him during the April Session here). It was hosted at Goose Island Clybourn, this month celebrating their 20th anniversary, and sad to say maybe it's last.

The Goose group included about 30 men (maybe a gal or two, more recently there have been many more, nice to see), with a lunch and as many beers as you wanted before the bus took us to the game, plus growlers on the bus! Now I tried several of their brews I had never had before, and realized how crappy the stuff I'd been drinking was. The Honkers Ale with beautiful English malt and a nice hoppiness was very new and exciting to me. I knew my favorite Black & Tan would now be my bottom feeder. It also hit me that I had spent 41 years drinking crappy beer, had turned to wine as a result, and now had to make up time with my new favorites, and formed my new moto, "There is too little time left to drink anything but great beer!". By little, I was surely hoping for another 40+ or so.

Anyway this gives me additional sadness about the Goose possibly closing, but thankfully I have discovered in the meantime that many good makers now exist, if only in the immediate Great Lakes area, not to mention else where in the US, and whoa don't forget the whole world discovery that awaits you in Belgian! Gotta love it. And I hope to become a home brewer soon....