Chicago definitely has a healthy drinking culture, which is a good thing for your humble author. There are liquor stores and bars on just about every block in the city and the bars stay open late. You’re not going to go thirsty there.
I recently had the good fortune of being back in Sweet Home Chicago and my good friend, @kerrierieo, invited me to join her and her friends at the Bull & Bear in River North. The name is a dual play on the two prominent Chicago professional sports teams and the stock market. It’s a sports bar located a short distance from the Chicago Board Options Exchange. On any given night it’s full of financial types downing a few while glued to a game on one of a few dozen TVs. It’s also a hang-out for sports types too. Party boy Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks star that scored the goal to win last season’s Stanley Cup, has been known to frequent it.
Kerri and her friends like B&B for the people watching (i.e. lots of hot guys), solid menu with pub grub like burgers, truffle fries and nachos, but also for slightly nicer entrees like a seared tuna salad. They also like the pajama brunches, which unfortunately doesn’t mean sipping champagne with ladies in lingerie.
But the real attraction here is the table taps. That’s right, table taps. They have beer taps right in table so you don’t have to wait to be served. Genius! Talk about a great drinking culture. This is the public equivalent of those enormous sectional couches that have the mini cooler and remote control holder built into the armrest. The only thing that could make it better is if they also had urinals under the table so you don’t have to get up to pee. Bull & Bear’s claim to fame is that they are the only bar in Chicago to have this brilliant table tap system.
Hazy amber like a butterscotch candy with a mild cream colored head.
Sweet dried grass recently cut and left to molder in the pallid November sun.
Like a chilled glass of run-off from a compost heap. Herbaceous, sour fruit and cedar spice with a hint of caramel on the finish. I’ve never been a fan of Belgian style ales, so my description is decidedly biased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine beer, but not my thing. I ended up drinking more Bud Light, not just because I could reach the tap without standing up, but because I actually liked it better.
$0.75 an ounce or $9 for a 12oz self-poured glass. The taps are metered, so you and the wait staff know exactly how much you’ve consumed. No honor system here.
All-in-all this is a pretty decent place to drink. Why just decent for a place that has serve-your-self-beer-taps built right into the table? Isn’t that enough to give this a Nirvana rating? It should be, but there is an unnecessary air of pretense to the place. Here’s just one example: they have bathroom attendants turning on the faucet and dolling out paper towels, mints and cologne. I gotta tip the guy every time I have to take a leak? That becomes a regulator on the self-administered beer. Need I say more about why this is just decent? At least the company was good.
My friend G brought me a bottle of 2008 Fuller’s Bottle Conditioned Vintage Ale. Yep, this is the same guy that brought me a sixer of Bud Light Lime. He followed that with a limited production (I got bottle 135,933 out of 150,000 made) vintage ale from London that came in a fancy red box? What? Well he actually has refined taste. In addition we both had the good fortune to have briefly lived in London; he in Chiswick where Fuller’s is brewed to be exact. So its completely in character for him to bring me a fine brew.
If you’ve never had a beer from Fuller’s, you need to rectify that. They taut themselves as the only remaining traditional family brewery in the city. They’ve been in business since 1845. If you are driving from Heathrow into central London, you’ll pass it on the way. Fuller’s bottles a dozen brews and some seasonals on top of that. I see the ESB fairly often and love to have a pint of it when I do.
Drinking this beer tonight was a magic carpet ride, instantly transported me to London. I relived a few afternoons in the pub with Beautiful Wife watching Chelsea march through the season on the way to winning the Premiership. I sat lakeside in Battersea Park, eating lunch in the sun as our young son slept in his stroller. I stood on the sidewalk in the sun outside in the late afternoon spring sun with my coworkers making up puns and double entendres. Clearly my hippocampus has associated pleasant memories of London with excellent Fuller’s beer. One drink and my long-term memory went into overdrive.
Damn you G. Damn you for only bringing one bottle of this fantastic time machine beer. Thank you for bringing it too.
Creamy egg shell head over hazy dark amber beer
Sweet corn and dry grass
Silk mouthfeel layers on butterscotch hops, carmel malted orange peel and a slightly bitter alcohol bite at the end. The sweetness and boozy bite are to be expected from a brew that packs in 8.5% alcohol.
Haven’t a clue
The vintage ale is bottle conditioned with the yeast still in it to give it plenty of aging potential. Fuller’s recommends that you lay this beer down for 3 to 4 years. I couldn’t wait, so 2 years is all it got. Hey, if I hadn’t drank it, Beautiful Wife would have.
Planning the perfect summer holiday party takes a lot of thought and consideration to balance the traditional patriotic food – always dead animals on the grill – and festive beverages. This year we had a few neighbors over and served the most American beverage we could think of: beer. Not just any beer, but ‘Merican beer from a variety of producers. We had a selection of microbrews from both Texas and Oregon on hand. Some delicious stuff, but I’m not going to give you my tasting notes on any of them.
Nope. I’m here to share the best part of the afternoon. Shotgunning a Miller Highlife tallboy in a camoflauge styled can. Now that’s class.
I have no idea the origins of this binge drinking method. I assume it was invented by some frat boy. I do know the purpose. Instant buzz. Do you remember the first time you did it? Was it in high school or college? I remember trying to teach a friend, Robbie, in high school how to do it in the mall parking lot right after work. Robbie spilled the better part of three beers down his shirt before we were interupted by the local law enforcement. We quickly tried to kick the empties under my car, but that was no use as the cop car spotlight illuminated everything going on. It turns out the cop was the dad of a kid that we played soccer against at a rival high school. We started talking about the game and his son, and he let us off without so much as a ticket. Luck.
When’s the last time you shotgunned a beer? I’m can do it pretty quickly, but was never the fastest. My friend LFBIII always beat me in high school and college. How fast can you do it? Looking at the counter on this video, I sucked down 16ozs of golden bliss in 8 seconds. Can you top that? Post your best time here and let me know what you are drinking.
Some nights are grown up and responsible. Those nights specialize in deep conversations and thoughtful exploration of sophisticated wine. Tonight is not one of those nights.
Tonight is a boys night out at the hipster bars in Austin. Cheap beep, burgers and Indie bands dictate the agenda.
Started the night with a Miller High Life tall boy at Shangri La. Some Brooklyn Lager helped us segue to Harpoon IPA at the Brixton. Back to Brooklyn on tap at the Jakelope. Next up, we’re goin to see The Non at The Mohawk.
Not sure what we’ll drink next, but guarantee it will be less nuanced than a nice Cotes du Rhone.
On Saturday my friend G and his darling wife were over to watch the US World Cup match. Darling wife has recently discovered the joys of Bud Light Lime, so she had a sixer in hand. G is roundly amused by her beer selection and decided it was something he ought to try.
He poured a glass to examine the lovely pale straw color, the whisper of a head and the fruity nose. Next to it he pour a glass of LaCroix lime sparkling water. He enouraged me to take a taste test.
They are remarkably similar, but the LaCroix is slightly more crisp. G’s point? Bud Light Lime tastes like lime flavored sparkling water. Point made.
Does that mean I’m going to turn my nose up at it? Hell no. That just means that when I want some water with a little touch of alcoholy goodness, I’ll consider a Bud Light Lime. So what if you can’t taste any hops or anything that resembles beer. Its refreshing.
Will I buy it? Probably not. At 7 bucks a six, I’d rather get real beer. Will you buy it?