Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Short, But Mean

Chicago, IL

After a quick, but very full adventure in Indianapolis, Chris and I returned to The Windy City and set up camp on the 15th floor of the Downtown Chicago Hilton. We don't usually spring for such swanky quarters when we travel, but many hotels offer really good deals during the week before Thanksgiving — perhaps because there weren’t too many business travelers or conferences happening. Whatever the reason, I got to have my own bathroom for a few days and that kicked major fucking ass in the best way. I've never in my life had my own bathroom. It's so fucking sweet. I loved it. Thank you Chicago Hilton! I'll stop with the bathroom now.

Anyway, when we arrived back in Chicago on Saturday night, we dropped our bags, inspected our private bathrooms for a little while, and then headed to Lou Malnati’s around the corner for some of their famous deep dish pizza. We elected to take our pie back to the hotel room because Chris wanted to eat his pie in the little fort he was going to build. That was fine with me - I planned to eat mine in my bathroom. Even though it was a Saturday night and we were in the big city, there would be no beer hiking. Tomorrow was probably going to be a big day: we would join forces with the other half of our pack (along with some friendly locals) and celebrate our friend Dean’s birthday the only way we know how.

The UBH begins.

Short, But Mean UBH
Haymarket Pub / Beer Bistro / Goose Island / Local Option / Seven Ten Lanes (Atlas Brewing); about 4.5 mi.

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Around 10:30 on Sunday morning, we headed out into the sunny, but very cold Chicago streets. This day had been on our radar for weeks as one that could go off the rails quick, but it never really got too crazy.

1. Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Haymarket was relatively quiet for a football Sunday so we had a lot of room to spread out. We took our time here and Dean and I indulged in some birthday whiskey. Later, Chris couldn't resist giving Dean his first taste of the infamous local liqueur Melört. At the end of the first half of the Bears game, we rallied the gang and took the short walk over to The Beer Bistro.

2. Kaiser at The Beer Bistro

The Beer Bistro was similarly tame. We hung out here for a while and enjoyed the terrific beer selection and some masterfully prepared chicken wings. Before long, it was time to move on again. Just about everyone elected to cab or drive to the next stop, Goose Island on Clybourn, but Dean, Chris and I elected to brave the cold and undertake the 45 minute walk. How cold was it? This:

The hike along this part of N. Halsted St. affords some great views of the city and a lot of urban landscape. We probably would have arrived 15 minutes sooner if I wasn't stopping every half-block to take pictures:

3. Goose Island - Clybourn

Goose Island Brewery kind of took me by surprise. It's in the same building as a Bed, Bath, & Beyond and doesn't look very promising from the outside, but turned out to be very warm and inviting. The gang arrived ahead of us and secured a corner of the pub, so we had beers in our hands in no time. Yes, GI is owned by those bastards over at AB-InBev and I don't have to like it, but they do still make some fine beer at Clybourn. We weren't lucky enough to score any Bourbon County Stout, but there were still plenty of options and I'm glad we stopped in.

With the most punishing stretch of the hike behind us, we had little trouble with the walk to stop number 4, Local Option.

4. Local Option

This was probably my favorite bar of the day and I was really hoping that we would get back here at some point in the trip, but we never did. It's a kind of punkish-metal craft beer bar with a nerdy twist to it and a definite divey feel to it, but that's a shitty way to try and label it. Like anything good in life, it defies classification. It's just a cool, fun place to go and fuck around. What more could you want?

Dean and Kaiser fucking around

Dean and Devlin fucking around

As so often happens, someone said the word, "bowling" and we were tripping over each other to get out the door and back on the hike.

5. Seven Ten Lounge (Atlas Brewing)
A little less than a mile north is Seven Ten Lounge. It's right next door to Atlas Brewing, so you know the beer here is fresh. While we had no trouble putting away a couple pints each, keeping score was a little trickier -- there is no automatic scoring! Turns out Chris was raised in a bowling alley and knows how to keep score. I'm pretty sure I got my ass kicked, like I always do at bowling, darts, billiards, shuffleboard, etc.

The beer part of the hike ended here, but Chris and I walked five miles back to our hotel from Seven Ten. Just because. Sure it was ball-shatteringly cold, but we had layers on and our blood was warm and thin by now. I never really felt that cold. The streets were completely desolate and the only thing we could hear was the wind and our own footsteps. It's not often that you get to wander around a huge city when it's that quiet. It's beautiful and maybe a little bit haunting.

The big city is asleep...

Coming up, I have one more Chicago UBH I want to tell you about, along with a quick road trip to Three Floyd's that I very much enjoyed, but for now, sit tight and take in some more of my crappy photography. I'll have more for you next year.