Monday, July 30, 2007

Midwestern Summer Beer Update

It's been a tough summer for any NYS beer lover transplanted to the Midwest. Fortunately for me, while I do enjoy a good beer, I've still got a lot of that junior high kid in me whose first full beer was the Piels he stole from his father's personal stash nearly 20-years ago. So it is that, now as I sit here gulping down Old Style's and cursing my shitty window unit A/C, I am once again reminded that as it was in the beginning, as it is now and as it always shall be, in some ways it's still all about the alcohol.

However, no amount of alcohol can really dull the trauma of the first summer Chicago has spent with no Bell's Oberon to refresh us and the even more perplexing vanishment of the Summit Hefeweizen from the Heartland, the best place to sit outdoors and drink an imperial pint on a Sunday Morning anywhere on the planet. Plus as our gas prices remain the highest in the country, it's made the regular beer excursions of past summers a lot harder to make this summers.

So take away Bell's and the Summit at the Heartland and field trips to New Glarus, Delafield or the Bent River, and what are you left with? Surprisingly, there is still a lot going on. The microbrew revolution has finally moved beyond the Hopleaf and has begun catching on all over the city.

And while it's still comical to walk into a bar and look up at the beer list on the chalkboards behind most bars and see things like "Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, California, Goose Island Honkers Ale, Chicago, Fat Tire, Colorado, Goose Island 312, Chicago, Miller Lite, Milwaukee..." It's still nice to notice the Rogue invasion in places like the Edgwater Tavern, the Allagash White at Kuma's Corner and the explosion of bars like Small Bar, a neighborhood place that specializes in good brews and Pub food. If only they could get their prices down under 7.50 a pint for a Spaten Hefe-Weizen.

Yes, the microbrew revolution is finally catching on here, and while it's nice to be a part of it, without Bell's, it's sort of like being introduced to the Grunge revolution in the Summer of 1994 when Candlebox ruled the airwaves and Kurt Cobain had left just recently enough for the whole world to still feel the void, A void I find myself filling more and more these days with the Goose Island 312 or the Summer Brew, the Candlebox brews of the microbrew scene.

So that's pretty much the way the beer scene has played out this summer in Chicago. Not a whole lot of excitement in terms of good beers, but still there is something to be said for the saturation of the market. As for me, I'm pretty much stuck up here in the Northeast Corner of the City where I am content to stick to sucking down my $3.50 Franziskaner Hefe-Weizzen imperial pints at Champions and the Bubble while I fantasize about the El Rojo Diablo at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA, the Bohemian Red at the Kraftbrau Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI, and of course a wonderful midsummer nights dream dancing with Oberon in the Beer garden @ bells. All of which are adventures that will be detailed on entries to come.


Bojangles said...

Ooh, tantalizing! Give us more!

Bill said...

Welcome back, Dingo. Keep us in the loop.