"Da Beerz!" (of Chicago)"
by clay moore

If you travel out of state for any reason, you probably ask
yourself, "what's the beer situation like?"

Traveling to Chicago for a Mets/Cubs day game was the perfect opportunity to see the
Windy City and its hoppy offerings since my last jaunt fifteen years earlier.  

My trip began on a disappointing note. I settled for a Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale
at the Cubby Bear pre-game. I recall the Cubby Bear, a Wrigleyville institution,
being much better the last time I was there. As you can probably expect,
Goose Island is everywhere, and that doesn't excite me much. The dance
music they played was as useless as the Cubs' pitching staff, who got
destroyed later that day 17-1 by the Mets. So that worked out.

Bernie's in Wrigleyville had Half Acre Golden Ale. A local brewery, Half Acre was
very good and far hoppier than I expected for a golden ale. Their "Over Ale"
brown ale was a perfect after dinner (or was it lunch?) beer when I dined at
Ditka's the next day. Ditka's was savvy enough to have Rogue Dead Guy
and Nelson Imperial IPA from Widmer Brothers to complement their
excellent food selection. I recommend the 22 oz. "Paddle Steak"
ribeye with a side of mashed potatoes.

Ok, so I skipped around a bit.

The friendly confines of Wrigley Field was great, but don't expect good beer.
Enjoy a few Old Styles because "when in Rome." Don't expect anything
other than the usual garbage on the field and at the beer stand, but for
true baseball fans, it is a great place to watch a game in the daytime.

It was about 100 degrees when the game ended, so I thought that the
air conditioned Goose Island Brewpub in Wrigleyville would be a great stop.
However, their tap selection was weak and their IPA (only available in bottles)
doesn't crack the top 25 in the IPA category for me.

Fortunately, I met three guys from Wisconsin who now live in Minnesota.
We discussed the inability to get New Glarus in New Jersey. The irony is that
beers like Allagash and Dogfish aren't available to them, and we probably take
that for granted out here with such a solid selection these days in the Garden State.

We split a cab to The Map Room, which some folks online have ranked as a
top 10 beer bar. It met all my expectations. It was unpretentious, cash only,
and had a great beer selection.  I enjoyed the Three Floyd's Alpha King Pale Ale
and Dreadnaught Imperial IPA. I then followed up with a "closer" - an
Arcadia Starboard Stout. It's the perfect beer when you've been out in
the sun for 4 hours and super dehydrated.

The next morning, I felt like the Cubs.  

Before my trip ended, my buddy told me about Pippen's Tavern and fortunately,
it was right near my hotel.  Pippen's, though it looked like your classic
dive bar, catered to construction workers, families and professionals alike.
It reminded me of a smaller version of McSorley's with severely worn wood
plank floors, but with much better beer. The irony is that it looked exactly
like a place where a hobbit might drink. (Maybe Pippen's was just spelled
wrong and was intended to reference that furry little character after all).

There, I had another local beer, Argus Pegasus IPA. It was darker than I
expected for an IPA and though it could have been simple palette fatigue,
it didn't shock me. I preferred the Lagunitas IPA, and that said, maybe it's
an insult to call Pippen's a dive bar since it carries local beers and other quality beers.

Though it's probably a broad generalization, folks in the Midwest seem to be
nicer than out here, and they sure love their food, their beer and the Cubs.
If you've never been there, Chicago is a great city to visit if you have the
chance to slip away. I just hope that when you are about to land, you
don't hear the following phrases that I did: (1) "folks we missed our
approach due to a light problem"; (2) "this may be a bumpy landing";
(3) "there may be fire trucks on the Tarmac, but don't be alarmed"
and (4) "please close your left side windows."

Thus, I took full advantage of using borrowed money and
borrowed time to purchase fresh beer.
More From Moore  -  nothing but beer here.....
Clay Moore
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"beer for the ear"
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