Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wicker Park mini-UBH

Chicago, IL

Just before Thanksgiving, a few friends and I ventured to the great beer city of Chicago. It was too cold for the week before Thanksgiving -- winter had apparently arrived early. The only other time I’ve visited (almost 15 years ago) was in January, so this remains my only experience with this city. Fucking cold, god dammit!

Chris and I arrived a couple days before the others and took a quick overnight trip to Indianapolis where we didn’t get to every beer spot, but we sure gave it a hell of a go. (You can read about it here if you really hate yourself.) But the night before we caught the bus down there, we did a quick little UBH around Wicker Park, where we were spending the night at Holiday Jones.

mini-UBH - Wicker Park
Piece / Maproom / Small Bar; 2.7 miles

View Wicker Park mini-UBH in a larger map

Our first stop, Piece, was jam-packed with beer-chugging, pizza chomping revelers — I’m told that that’s not unusual — and it was impossible to get a beer from the bar before being seated. After 10 minutes and being jostled several times, I almost suggested we just skip it and try again later, but I’m glad we didn’t because we never made it back to Piece on the whole trip. When we were eventually seated, we were treated to some very good beer and a larger pizza than we ordered. Not too shabby. I’ll look forward to visiting again someday and trying more of their brews when it’s not so busy.

Chris gives thanks for this massive bounty.

From Piece, we headed up to The Map Room and just managed to grab two seats at the end of the bar as a couple was leaving. We ordered a couple pints from their formidable tap list and Chris began to tell me about a peculiar wormwood liqueur made in Chicago called Melort. He said he read somewhere that it’s a sort of right of passage in Chicago and we’d eventually have to partake. I suggested we get it out of the way now while this trip was still firmly in control (God only knows what insanity the other two of our fellowship would be towing when they arrived in a couple days.) Apparently the beer tender, Brandon, overheard Chris talking about it because without even asking, we found three shot glasses in front of us (one for Brandon) along with a half-full bottle of dull, yellowish liquid. We toasted the uncertain future and threw back our shots of Melort, which I thought would taste a lot worse than it did. I was glad to have it out of the way, although something told me that it wasn’t to be my only taste this week.

There was still plenty of time before last call and now we had some kerosene in the tank so rather than retire, we pressed on to another bar we had on our radar in that neighborhood, Small Bar on Division. Unlike the previous two stops, it wasn’t crowded. Small Bar isn’t exclusively a beer bar, but they do have a terrific selection of taps and bottles. After another pint and some good conversation with the locals about Melort, New Orleans, and where else in Chicago to find good beer, we called it a night. On the way out, I noticed that they were going to have a kick-ass stout festival in a few days. I made a mental note in case we were looking for something to do around then.

It was a cold, but quick walk back to Holiday Jones from Small Bar. We only got about five hours of sleep in before waking up and heading Downtown with the morning commuters to catch our bus to Indianapolis. It was a good peek at Chicago, but there was much more where that came from.

I’ll stop here. There's a lot more to come from Chicago.

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