middle brow \ citizen how /

time moves both ways.

my partner nick's mom died last week. partner is a funny word, as we've been friends since we were 6. that's 30+ years. only 8 or so of which were relevant to beer. so i knew his mom very well once upon a time. she was always a sort of mythical creature. her love for nick was easy to see. a true example of unconditional love. and she cared for us, his friends, almost as much. cuz she was an everyday hero. a community-historical figure.

it's the everyday heroes who understand how time moves. the ambitious (often little-boy-style men, but many little-boy-style women, too) are flawed. in a serious way. starting with their perception of time. that is: ambitious egomaniacs believe that time moves constantly forward. accrues, so to speak. that history is a fixed thing. in other words: that there's any history at all. ... they believe in history. and they want to be in it. part of it. they want immortality through text. through libraries. through ephemera, even. if they have to settle.

but the everyday heroes understand that time ain't so. time moves both ways. not out in all directions constantly, like "science" tells us. but in and then out. it barrels forward and then recedes. advancing and then retreating. creating and then erasing. like a wave. like a pendulum. it's just: the time it takes for that advance and retreat depends on the viewer. the scale of a day or a human life is easy for us to perceive. much harder, the scale of the universe.

stand brave life liver.

an example: a small child. with a small world. eventually becomes again a small elderly-child. with a small world. but somewhere in there. somehow. the two children on both ends are just one. in the middle. and that giant, strong, independent human gets big as hell. and lives in big, big world. the biggest imaginable. to her.

it's accretion and rescission. just like our day to day: we lack. and then we get. and then we give up. it's our whole life long, time moving both ways. in and out. it's our work for money, and then its loss. it's our work for fame or power, and then its devolution.

a smart egomaniac might argue: "but the earth is rotating around the sun. slightly more slowly every time. i mean, imperceptibly more slowly. imperceptible by generations. by thousands of years. consider mutual time dilation and length contraction."

but community-historical figures. everyday heroes. would respond: "are we able to measure the universe that existed before us? of which there's no evidence? it shot out, maybe. expanded. seemingly infinitely. definitely maybe. and then contracted again. to nothing. it rescinded. and then here we. our universe. emerged. advanced. and so all evidence of anything relates back to our universe only. the prior one, now absent."

--

everyday heroes go to work in the morning. come home in the evening with nothing to say. they teach. they tinker. they twist on a bolt all the live long day. they demonstrate love in their grind. they hope and dream, simply, for more hopes and dreams for themselves. and also for their kids. they want to connect. to see something pretty, and then to see something pretty die. ... teachers. like nick's mom. for 42 years. who try to connect with a misbehaving little boy. just once. cuz that one connection might give rise to another connection. and then another one. and they might string together an entire year. and lead to better grades. and better behavior. and a better future. and a better father.

this is what everyday heroes do.

--

i’ve always had an aversion to the individual. as a kid. i remember learning at my shitty catholic school that western culture credits *the individual* for wins and the community for losses. while eastern culture credits *the community* for wins and the individual for losses. i thought latter was so much beautiful’r.

then romney and obama faced off. and “you didn’t build that” made all my republican friends blanche. and made me feel nothing. it was obvious to me that you didn’t. ... i mean, really, though. let's unpack that. first things first: no woman is an island. did you get some help in the early days? from friends and family on the bottling line? and did you get a super cheap quote from a graphic designer for a label? and were you somehow already socially connected to virtually every one of your early customers? you didn't build that early success: your friends and family were generous as shit. and shouted out about you to all their friends and family. and made you known. and got you sales in binny's. and etc. etc. etc.

but more importantly, i wanna talk about roads. at some point a way while back. in the 40s and 50s. the federal government decided to build the shit out of roads. highways and byways and side streets and holler paths and etc. roads for everyone! it was all our tax dollars what paid for them paved roads. funneled through the feds. and now we could drive anywheres we wanted ta.

and who looooved this policy? big auto. why? well, first, cuz it beckoned people to drive and drive, of course! and big oil loved it, too. but all of little auto and little oil loved it too. that is to say, tiny machine shops, making unique bolts to spec for a particular order from ford motor company. they loved that the feds put money into roads! cuz they had tons of new business with all the cars people were buying. and independent owners of fuel stations. and mechanics. they loved it too! we built a whole region up around it: the upper midwest. michigan, sure. but minnesota and wisconsin and illinois and ohio and indiana. and parts of pennsylvania and the appalachians.

and then what happened next? well: big oil and big auto needed people to work these jobs. and black families in the south were facing constant social and physical violence. so they jumped at the chance to move north for better work and better living conditions. ... the work, they got. but they were also met with resentment by white folks living in these northern cities. and what did the white folks do with those new roads? they moved away from the black folks newly in the cities! into the suburbs! they gratified their racist and resentful and downright fearful tendencies and skipped town. "thank goddess for these federally-funded roads!" they said, as they drove quite quickly to work everyday. and away from their new black scapegoats every night.

and then other industries started popping up. finer industries. skilled manufacturing. and they looked around and saw high rents in the cities. and lower rents in the suburbs. but also! also! tons of new people living in the suburbs! and perfect roads for their employees to use to get to and from work. cheaply and easily. by bus or by car. and so instead of spending lots of money on real estate and on quality-of-life regulations imposed by cities, they relocated to cheaper and easier suburban and exurban regions. thanks to the roads the feds built.

so, like i said. you didn't build that. i agreed. the aversion from childhood stuck.

--

and then in high school and college when i read hegel i thought he was sort of a fool. maybe i misunderstood him. in fact, i likely misunderstood him. but i don't care. the way my poorly-educated and poorly-paid teacher taught hegel to me was that hegel viewed history through the lens of unhappy men, mostly. who strove to force their Reason upon the world. for selfish motives. but this strikes me as bull shit. the world-historical figure would more accurately have been a world-historical group. or even a community-historical individual. in my estimation. and i hinted as much in a recent memo about polly. and her quiet, powerful community building.

that's what makes history. some ambitious fool of a man simply rides the crest of a wave derived from the collection of simple actions by community-historical individuals. by everyday heroes who form powerful, local-level groups. and it happens over long periods of time. not during one selfish man-child's reign.

--

but then i’ve gotten a bit nervous recently. watching all these "groups" do such terrible things. political parties. and voters. grouping up to ignore obvious lessons that we should have learnt long times ago.

like, for example: joe biden, the mitt romney of the moment, will not beat donald trump. he's far too moderate in a time like this. he's boring. he's out of touch. he's another old white guy. he says silly things which makes him appealing to regular americans. whatever those are. but he's just.... not good at this.

and like: racism is bad. how did we forget this one? how have we still not learnt it? donald trump has given all sorts of ugly thoughts a little lube. and their slippin' right out of people's minds and off their tongues. en masse! how are these massive groups re-adopting racial resentment as an organizing feature? sad to say it, but we need to find and learn the language to deal with this again. like: "i know you're a good person. and not racist at your core. but that comment was racially divisive." ugh. you can't even call racism racism right now. without inviting more racism.

and like, for example: republican tax policy will damage the economy and the lives of your neighbors. we learned this! well and good! all the trickle down talk? it was a nice video game theory. by a bunch of "smart" men and women in economics PhD programs in hyde park. but it never panned out. and even they admit it's bull shit now. and are looking for reasons to explain it. ... which is absurd? appalling? it's pretty obvious why money doesn't trickle down: humans are loss averse. when they get something. even if they don't deserve it. or even if someone else gave it to them for free. they believe it's theirs. and they'll never let it go. ... how did we not know this in the 80s? in any event, we know it now. but a whole political party, and the vast majority of its voters, still believe it. and shit: probably a third of the other political party also believes it. and a big chunk of their voters, too!

and then beer: it seems that interesting discoveries around things like strike temp and hop timing and infection and dissolved oxygen pick-up and etc are made by individuals. like, someone accidents into a discovery about any of the latter. learns something way good or way bad about an action they took. and then tells other brewers and it travels by word of mouth until it's studied by someone at uc-davis. an individual discovery at bottom.

so.... are groups stupid'r? are they causing more problems than they're solving? are individuals really the important/relevant entity? do we need a word-historical hero to save us?

--

no! wait! ... something is missing in all this chatter. the phenomenon of storytelling! storytelling massively favors individuals. stories need a protagonist. and an antagonist. to help drive a plot forward. ever see a movie about a group? with no main character? unlikely. and if you did, it was the exception to the rule. it's way hard for an audience to interpret meaning from a story that lacks an individual protagonist. so authors and playwrights and directors and the like utilize individuals to make bigger points about history. and about groups. despite individual successes often depending largely on groups.

and what's more: our brains think in stories. that's likely what gave rise to stories anyway! so we interpret paradigm shifts and even small changes as having derived from some one person or moment. no matter that that's hardly ever true.

indeed. the truth is that groups make good things happen. and i see that in beer constantly. one person has an idea. tries it out. fails. but someone else watching him synthesizes some new thoughts from his failure and her previous failures and comes up with a successful, genius idea.

we all like to find the original genius individual. vis a vis an idea. but it's folly to think we can. instead, there's always an original genius group working together to make advances.

--

but what's the relevance of time and it's movement to all of this? the wave can only gather the strength to crest if it's built by everyday heroes who understand that time moves both ways. that death always beckons. and so the collection of each raindrop matters. that is, generosity begets generosity. right here. right now.

life. and all of history. is made and made better by all the everyday heroes. working in concert.

like polly novello marie. and mary ann catherine burica. and alison larkin. and benny and george.

go into your community. tonight. ... even if it's not for pizza or beer. just go find it. it's there waiting for you to join up.

frame the movement

this, i won't forget.

we went to the first night of the joanna newsom run at thalia hall this past week. she played only skin. and time, as a symptom. and baby birch. and divers. yikes.

her songs make you contemplate both of your sizes. like, they make you feel the way mountains make you feel. tiny and inconsequential in all of space and time. but simultaneously they make you feel like the love in your brain for a single cute boy in 3rd grade is the biggest and most important thing on the planet. and it is! that’s, like, the point of earth. of humans. of spirits. of rivers. of weather.

polly says her songs make you feel nostalgic for a time and place you’ve never been (in). which i immediately identified with. take baby birch. it’s a song that, sped up, is almost trivial and bluesy and like something you’d hear on the atlantic city boardwalk. some shoe shining irish lad. whistling dixie. unironcially. in the 30s. ... but she slows it down. and lands each note. and adds a hundred year old harp. and the melody beckons a family ripped apart by the civil war. “oh my gods. my darlin boy. don’t weep for your leg. it’s only bones”.

we watched her monday evening. in near silence. and i have so, so much more to say about her unique genius. and about the folly of genius. and the misnomer of genius. generally. but.... maybe next week.

for now, a true celebration. of a genius. for her non-genius genesis. like, one don't get genius-level without serious non-genius practice. repetition. focus. constant work. the stuff of worker bees. not, specifically, the stuff of "geniuses" you knew all your life. not the stuff of jacks of all trades. but masters of none. or jacks of all experience. but havers of none. not the stuff of tourists in fields who can spout on about this or that and know how to sound smart or how to defeat someone else's poor logic. but instead the stuff of everyday heroes. of community-historical figures. like i said: fuck hegel. long live hard work. long live joanna newsom. and commitment. and polly novello marie.

middle brow missions

fuck the nfl. for manipulating you.

fuck the nfl. for manipulating you.

sundays in the sun room.

the shriek of a guitar string. fingers draggin' 'long it. yeet! assaulting the tips of your fingers. callous, disgusting. like, peeling dead skin all day. and then caressing the face of your maybe-lover that eve. to his deep chagrin. and your eventual chagrin. when he says goodbye. on account of your harsh hands.

the trauma. long term. created by guitar playing. it's real. it could lead to early death by broken heart by loneliness or else early musical success by broken heart by loneliness and then early death by that—the drugs and the coffee and the drugs again.

the government should really do something about drugs. and rock stars. and rap songs. with all the violence. and the sex. and the drugs.

it's really terrible. for our communities. and our community workers. music. no more guitars! ban guitars!

but srsly. fuck the nfl. and hey: i was a giant bears fan for a long, long time. grew up that way. then grew to hate sports. but then somehow loved pro football again. somehow it tied me to my youth and my neighborhood and my friends. and i was hooked as an adult.

but then. after a summer in san francisco. (an autumn in san francisco.) i was freed. forever. from the shackles of sunday football.

the national football league is the brand new tobacco industry. killing communities. with full knowledge. and in full denial. ... sabotaging the science. stifling the reports. ... these are evil people. and i ignored the evil for a long time. so i won't bag anybody for doing same. but you really ought to stop. find entertainment somewhere else.

like, e.g., sundays in the sun room!!!! go get a late noon brunch in logan square. hit the farmer's market. then wander down to bungalow. sometime in the 3s. for a beer or two. and a game of backgammon. and then a pizza. and then a nice set of music. from 5p until you start to fade. in the pre-8s.

this week!!!!

we got *BRIAN SULPIZIO* from *health & beauty*. introduced by *SHAINA HOFFMAN*. a coupla chicago legends. this sunday. starting at 5p. w their guitars. shrieking under their soft, lilting, lateral-moving fingers.

i hope brian plays a solo version of *back to the place*. but am fine if he don't.

new beer notice

*MOZART*

did you say this was the best vienna lager in they city? no? oh. well you mustn't have drunk it yet then. cuz it fucking is. eat your heart out, chicago.

whoa there! angry boy! no no no. no anger here. just excitement. all tiz and some taz. this thing has a caramel face. but then you kiss it. i mean, you french kiss it. you tongue-wrap the hell out of it. and it's all light and perfectly-roasted (thx sugar creek malt you). and it's like you're at your cousin's house. and it's the early morn cuz you slept over. and you woke up wayyy early and reallllly have to piss but for as much fun as you had the night before just mobbing all over every inch of this house you're all timid and shit in the early morgen and you don't wanna get up and so you wait and wait but you're an early riser and your cousin paul it's like he's some kind of count dracula who hates the sun and he's sleeping and sleeping and then whoa is there nobody else awake? is his whole family like this? your aunt and uncle and other girl cousins? all sleeping too? i mean jesus! it's like 7a already! someone's gotta let that long-nailed dog out before he pisses half on some throw rug for frustration with y'all. and shit that's about what you're about to do too.

and then finally you hear a murmur. and it's your cousin jeannie. and she's watching ren and stimpy. and that gives you freedom. to take a leak. finally. and so you do. and you go to the pantry after that. and find some cereal. and you're not allowed to eat fun cereal at home cuz your parents are all prude. there it's like honey nut cheerios or bust. but here they've got oh's. and smacks. and all sorts of shit that probably made mozart smart. made him proliferative. so you eat a bowl of rice krispies. your boring ass. and your cousin laughs at you over his smacks. but then offers you some of his milk.

*MOZART*. a vienna lager. made off mozart and armitage. grains. like a kids cereal. not a crazy-sweet one. more like oh's. it's really like if a beer tasted the way the oh's cereal box looks. it's perfect. it's october in a glass. it's rare for us to really attack this style. but we were all pumpkin'd out in our first fall back in 2013. and we were festbier'd out like two years after that. it's incessant!!!!

but biere de gardes and vienna lagers. shiiiiiiiiiit. set me down front of a baby fire. or a big'n even. with a *MOZART*. our brand new vienna lager. something you can drink everyday. even though you can only soak him up once in a great while. too many faux heroes and legends in his stories. and vibratos. his music wasn't so much for the everyday. in the german philosophical sense. which tended to miss the everyday heroes. but them germans....

they always got good w the everyday beers.

fresh beer fridays. at bungalow by middle brow.

*FRESH CRUSH*

oh shoot! fresh beer friday! that reminds me. of a beer we released while i was toiling right through and forgot this modest memo. on some recent friday. ... we made a fresh-hopped ipa. called *FRESH CRUSH: AMARILLO". with fresh amarillo hops.

what weird to say about it? nothing, really. it's just wild how real hops taste. let me put it this way: imagine you cut a rose frmo its branch in may. and you dehydrated it almost immediately. in a flash. and then you pulverized it into a fine powder. and pelletized it. and vacuum-sealed all the pellets and stored them in a freezer for months and months. and then you wanted to make a rose tea. so you went and retrieved a rose pellets and dropped it in hot water and it was good! it was rosy!

and then imagine instead that you cut a rose from its branch in may. and dipped it in hot water just then. for a tea.

the latter is what *FRESH CRUSH: AMARILLO* is. not better, necessarily. just different. beautiful. fresh. wispy. (yes. it's better.)

ok. two fresh beers on this cool, fiery friday. come for them.

a fresh little autumnal lager. just before the rain breaks.

a fresh little autumnal lager. just before the rain breaks.

middle brow \ citizen how /

here it comes.

here it comes.

the fair'st spread.

hey so let's start talking about politics again. since it's time. to think about who we want to be our next president. our next congresswoman. our next senator. and our next water reclamation agent. etc. etc.

i want to start with a story about wendell. cuz i think your reaction to this story tells you what side of the aisle you *should* sit on. re healthcare, at least.

wendell became a paraplegic in a car accident about half-a-decade ago. he rides around in a wheelchair now. he was riding by middle brow just the other day, in fact. trying to hurry toward the bus stop so as not to miss the buss. when he mistakenly ran his wheelchair into a giant crack in the asphalt. (no! a crack in the asphalt?! in chicago?!?!) ... needless to say, the result was heartbreaking. wendell tipped straight over. and landed on his face. his glasses snapped right in half, the glass shattering and digging into his skin. blood was all over his face. everywhere. polly ran out immediately to help him. (she's tends to watch with immense sadness as people run off their legs to catch a bus.) she picked him back up. put him in his wheel chair. collected his glasses and asked another bystander to call 911. she then ran back inside bungalow and got some towels and water. and helped wendell clean off his head/face. and make do with whatever remained of his glasses. and waited with him for the ambulance to come. the ambulance, though, couldn't take him anywhere. he couldn't see. he had enormous cuts all over his face. huge gashes that were bleeding profusely. and they couldn't take him. why not? he refused. and why did he refuse? "insurance," he said. so instead, the paramedics told this man who could no longer see, who was still profusely bleeding from his head, who needed two arms to move his wheelchair and a third arm to hold the blood-soaked towels on his head, to get home safely.

should wendell have laid there on the street, bleeding out? should polly, a private citizen, have brought him inside and cared for him in our brewpub with our first aid kit and other supplies she purchased from walgreens? should the ambulance have come and given him some gauze pads and said "be careful getting on the bus" and drove off? or should the ambulance have taken him to the hospital, cleaned and dressed and stitched his wounds where necessary, and sent him with a case worker to help get him home and a new pair of glasses?

the latter is the only just prescription. really: if that was your mom, how would you want her treated? would you want her to have to rely on help from a private citizen? or should we all, as private citizens, chip in micro-pennies to make sure your sweet ma gets taken care of properly? again, the latter. if this is european, call me péter forever.

so then... if you agree with that much. if you agree that public institutions are better placed to help people in wendell's situation. how do you not agree with medicare for all? or some other universal healthcare policy?

to wit: obamacare is a mess. it's done lots of good. but it's nuts that as a small business owner, i'm on the individual market with tons of other really sick people and older people. and you know how insurance markets work? if not, here's how: i'm in a group. and i get to buy insurance coverage as part of that group. the price and terms, that is, are determined by the whole group. and there's a bunch of really sick low-wage earners in this group with me. and so insurance companies have to charge my group more money. because so many people in my group cost lots of money to take care of. but me? i'm healthy. i hardly ever go to the doctor. so, by paying for insurance as part of this group, i'm spending more than i otherwise would if i purchased insurance on my own. in effect, i'm subsidizing all those sick people in my group. making it cheaper for them to buy insurance.

now, i'm still in the start-up phase of this small business. i hardly have a penny to my name. i service my insurance bill. credit card bills. rent. student loans. and pay for just about nothing else. i eat one cookie and a couple pieces of cold pizza everyday. so that our company stays healthy enough to continue to employ 40+ people. and so that i can make a long-term career out of this game.

oh! and yeah! and i'm also covering the hospital bills of low-wage, chronically sick people.

wait. what?!?!?! why me? of all people? someone like me, or my sister who works as a server at bungalow and a freelancer elsewhere. why are we the ones tasked with paying for a throat graft on a 50-year-old low-wage earner in kankakee?

just to be clear, ronald reagan agreed that wendell should not have been left on his own after that fall. but once you decide that that's the only ethical result, what next?

first, we must find a way to pay for wendell's treatment. for years, republicans refused to allow single-payer healthcare to pass, which means we all paid for wendell's treatment on the back end. because uninsured folks like him would go to ER and get really bad health results and end up on medicaid. or else they'd go to the ER and get good health results, but the insurance companies would raise prices on every group to spread out the cost of his ER visit. in 2008, democrats finally tried to fix this with obamacare. republicans still refused to allow single-payer healthcare see the light of day, though. and democrats were too cowardly to push for it. or even, mind you, to push for a public option. obamacare was great in that it got us much closer to universal healthcare. but by requiring everyone to buy insurance, the cost of treating the older and sicker people who couldn't get insurance for the previous 20-30 years fell to a smaller segment of the population. who makes up that smaller segment? young people fresh out of college with no money. trying to start a career. save for house. etc. and small business owners and freelancers. trying to produce something in the world. that's who is subsidizing your sickly cousin. but shouldn't it be you instead? or shouldn't it be all of us? shouldn't we all pay micropennies to care for our brethren? rather than some small segment paying so much for healthcare that they can't afford to heat their home in the winter?

that's the basic choice. i say tax rich people a bit more. and care for everyone like we're all human. do you say "keep taxes low and hope that employers take their winnings and raise wages and wage-earners then budget sufficiently for health care and keep hospital regulations low so hospitals can compete with each other to provide the best service at the best price which will drive healthcare prices lower or at least keep them sustainable"?

do you say that?

hmmm. i hope not. cuz you'd sound like an idiot. who's about to celebrate the bicentennial.

middle brow missions

ms x mb '19.

and grapes! i told you they've been wildly important to us recently. so important that we hopped on a plane monday way-morning. out to SFO. and got into a car. and grabbed a couple pastries from an unjustifiably famous bakery. and rode due north to sonoma. and ate at the old fremont diner. and snagged a bottle of concrete and skin fermented chardonnay and an albatross moment at scribe winery. and texted our new friends tim and martha at martha stoumen wines. and asked if they were ready for us to arrive. and they were! indeed, the grapes for our collaboration had been picked while we were up in the sky. and they were expected at the winery any moment now! so we hustled over. jumped out of our truck and onto the top of a de-stemmer. and go to work sorting and lining up grapes. after a few bins' worth, we jumped down and right into an untouched grape bin. to do the foot tread ourselves. embarrassing polly w my flintstone feet. and holy hell! it's way harder than you expect it to be. nuts! ... a pump-over. some tank work. lots of listening. wine bottles everywhere (but not as ubiquitous as the bags of ruffles). martha and tim, all earthy and helpful and excited and warm and brilliant. ... all of this. together. made our natural wine / beer blending dreams come true.

we're only just beginning to tell the story of our collaboration w martha. the pressed juice is en route in a reefer truck now. kicked off w a little lees from one of her white blends. ticking away. hopefully slowly. but definitely surely. in a poly tank. in that back of that truck. ... it arrives sunday morning. and i gotta go rent a forklift today. so i can't write all that much in my citizen how rant. but i guess the point is: stay tuned. we'll have a nouveau release. we'll let some portion mature. some will be on tap. some in bottles. some will be beer heavy. some will be wine heavy. some will be totally native, pet-nat even. some will be even more native (somehow).

it's gonna be a fun, wine-y winter.

bloom all over these stoumen negroamaros!!

bloom all over these stoumen negroamaros!!

new beer breakdown

BLOOM  a wine/beer beer.

BLOOM a wine/beer beer.

*BLOOM*

you know that white, waxy-ish film that covers individual grape berries? it's called bloom. and it contains yeast. which, of course, makes wine and beer and bread and cool pickles and marmite and illness and fuel-cell electricity and etc. ... so, we paired up with a local cat. his name's mark. and he owns and runs august hill winery / illinois sparkling co. that's right. a cute illinois winery. out near starved rock. and we bought a whole bunch of grapes from him. and we let fermentation start a touch. and then we made a sour wheat ale. and blended the grape juice we got from mark's grapes into the whirlpool. and let the thing ferment out. and voila! wine/beer was born! *BLOOM*! a brand new weird beer! tart. peachy. grape jammy. high acid. hip. fresh. flesh. simple.

there's this memory i have of drinking alpha king. a long, long time ago. maybe in 2008? i also have it about drinking goose island honker's ale in the late 90s. it's that what-the-fuck feeling. i was lucky enough to eat at schwa once. in 2005 maybe? and one of the courses had a beer pairing. schwa didn't have a liquor license, but since it was part of a particular dish, they were allowed to serve us a couple ounces of beer. and you were instructed to take a forkful of some collection of food. and then to sip the schwa beer immediately thereafter. and ... it tasted the way a michigan dock smells. all what-the-fucky. is it the wet wood? the concrete pylons? rotting fish in the distance? soggy netting? seaweed? algae? i don't know. but i know that the smell and taste were nostalgic. and achieving that sort of nostalgia in a bite of food was magic. and i've been determined to give the same feeling to the world ever since. through beer. and over bevs. and, now, through pizza and bread and pickles and such.

beer is defined nationally as containing at least 50% malted grain. (and, locally at least, as containing skunk and gut-rot and out-of-place, renaissance fair pictures on the label. we love you, old style.) anyway, *BLOOM*, our wine/beer beer doesn't cause gut-rot. but it does contain about 51% malted grain; it's juuuuust barely a beer. so if your husband hates beer but loves wine. or if your dog loves beer but hates wine and you want to bring him to a patio where he doesn't jump on the table trying to lap up every german wheat molecule. or if you just like to try new beers and beer styles every chance you get. cuz you feel like you've tasted every damn beer in the world at this point. get over to middle brow now. home of weird beers. almost-not-beers. honey wine beers. beers made w bread. grape must beers. beers bleneded w other beers. it's a fucking beer lab here. a tinkerers garage. we'll make you all what-the-fucky about our beers. in a good way. and you'll chase that feeling again for years and years. maybe all the way until you die of death.

__________


*PUB BEER #2*

speaking of weird beers... we made a weird english-estonian beer! the third in our kvass series, and the second in our pub beer series. this kvass is not sour. but it was bred bready. and so it has an incredible bread-crust finish on it. but wait... let me back up.

WE HAVE ANOTHER NEW BEER. this time, we used about 100 pounds of bread. to give you context, that's less than the quantity of bread we used for our previous kvass, *HOUSE SOUR #2*, and more than the quantity of bread we used for the one prior to that, *HOUSE SOUR*. we also didn't sour this kvass at all. instead, we made an english-ish pub beer with it. it might be the coolest nose on any beer in the city right now. impeccably-timed. it smells like when you're driving your car w your knees and opening an orange-caramel candy from olivia's market and you inhale it in one bite and you keep jig-jaggin' through city alleyways trying to get back home without expending too much of your limited patience on traffique. and minutes later, after you've entirely forgotten about the candy, you scratch your nose and smell something amazingly sweet. and you don't know where the smell came from. so you sniff around the car to see if it came from the passenger side or the drivers side. or the front or the back of the car. and you can't find shit. and then you purse your lips a bit to see if the smell is just residual in your mustache. but no. your 'stache just smells like a glass of really fresh, autumn rain. it wasn't that. so you scratch your nose again. aiming to repeat the moment. to bring back the scent. and THERE IT IS! right there. on your fingers somewhere. ... you start sniffing all your fingers. every nook and cranny. like a new pup. and you discover the scent on your thumb and shove your thumb almost entirely into one of your nostrils to smell the hell out of it and it's orange-caramel and OH YEAH! you just ate a fucking orange-caramel candy 7 or 8 minutes ago. from olivia's market.

this beer smells like that. it smells good. delicious. but also search-worthy and focus-friendly. caramel + orange or strawberry or some other delicious fruit. sweet up front. dry on the finish. bread crust all over your sinuses. come get *PUB BEER #2* early today. then eat some bread and pickles. and read a chapter in your favorite book. or talk about health care policy with your favorite friends. and order a *BLOOM* for dessert.

soft boys and soft beers. in logan square.

fresh beer fridays. at bungalow by middle brow.

beer from bread. kvass for the working men and women.

beer from bread. kvass for the working men and women.

middle brow \ citizen how /

over outcomes.

so. SO. ... one of our staff. she's a manager sort of. she's got terrific service instincts. and has been doing it for a long time. mostly at big star in chicago. but also she volunteers at the field museum. and is aiming to study botany. to get a degree in it, in fact. and she just got into chem 102! ... so she was talking to a botanist. a major prof at the school she's interested (maybe?) in attending. or wait, is he just a major advisor of the field museum? anyway. he told her that most of the botanists he knows work in the pharmaceutical industry. and that, i could tell, kinda bummed her out. and got her to thinking: "in a capitalist society", she said, "do you think it's true that in order to make more money you have to do unethical things?" and of course, right away, i disagreed. like she knew i would. (we gave away piles of money! and grew!)

but let's step back a tic. an inch. a hundredth of a peter-meter. the better question is: can you make any money at all without being unethical?


that's actually a very hard question to answer. of course, it depends on your ethics. are you a utilitarian? cuz i reckon you could make ethical money in many, many ways if so. or are you a kanty deontologist? or are virtues your t-bag?

ok. none of that probably matters. i've not eaten enough this morning and am already drunk on dovetail's breakfast lager. it might seem to matter. but there's very likely one ethical truth. and we're just not smart enough to have uncovered it yet. and it'll likely tell us that money isn't ethical at all. but in the meantime. we need money. to achieve many of the things we're either conditioned to want. or we've evolved to want. (the latter is more believable to me, as people, including marketers and salesman, are lazy, and it's far easier to condition someone to want something that they've already evolved to want.)

so we need this unethical thing to get the other things we've evolved to want. because of how some rich and powerful people awhile back decided to organize a society. this thing, though, requires us to act unethically in the world. in order to get it. and then our getting it allows us to increase our comfort. but there's the rub, shakespeare! there it is. how much comfort do we want? how much do we need? that ultimately determines our ethics. if we're perfectly comfortable with an above average meal, a hot bath and 15-20 days off of work per year, we probably don't have to behave that unethically. we could probably, dare i say it, give a reasonably large portion of our money away every year and still live the life we want to live.

so maybe the whole question is a matter of degree and not nature. when you're speaking about money and ethics at all. you can minimize the ethical harm you do by minimizing the money you make. maybe she's right! or... maybe not.

...

i want to talk about a very basic transaction. the one with the car mechanic. (to be clear: this ain't a friends episode.) so... your car is broken. specifically: your tail light is out. you're a bit stressed about it cuz you've heard that it's illegal to drive without a functioning tail light. it's fine only to have one headlight that works. but a bum tail-light? that's a big ticket. so you're nervous constantly about driving your car. you never drive it. but you have a kid in kindergarten and it's like 6 miles away! and you work til 3 and he gets out at 330 and you could never walk or take the bus there in time! and if he learns that he can't rely on you to be there when he needs you, he'll end up super unhappy his whole life. and so you decide that you desperately need to get your tail light fixed. you can't watch a youtube video on it. and send away to the internet for a new one. and wait for it to arrive. and then send away to homedepot.com for the tools you need to fix it now that you've actually tried and failed. and your nut driver requires and socket and ratchet. it turns out. so you go to a car mechanic. and she's got all those tools. and she rips off the cover. switches the light bulb. which she happened to have in stock from another recent honda repair. and off you go. $100 poorer. but so much happier.

now. the question is: should she have simply given that to you for free? arguably, until society is reorganized quite handedly. it would be unethical not to pay her the $100. she's got a family to feed! she just gave you her labor! her time! her expertise! why shouldn't you pay her?

but it's a bit muddier than that still. because both parties likely believe they're taking advantage of the other party. consider that the man with the busted tail light is desperate for someone to fix his car. he's got a super easy $200 in his pocket. designated to nothing else at all. and he's ready to give it all away for a fixed tail light. shit... will this even be enough? could i afford $250? yeah. yeah yeah yeah i bet i could. yeah, you know what? i'd spend $500 to get this done right now. and i wouldn't even blanch. i'd have to write a check for the second $250 but i could easily afford it. just don't have the cash on me right now...

and the woman fixing car after car at her shop? she's got this tail light in her tool box. it's been sitting there for, like, 2 years. it's almost expired. and she hasn't had a customer in 2.5 days. cuz everyone is watching the car-repair youtube channel and shopping at autozone now cuz they also sell sour punch straws there in the check-out line. and so she's desperate. for anyone to come in. honestly, she'd do the work for $20. she just wants to get a new customer to trust her. to want to bring her their car when something goes wrong. shit... she'd even do the labor for free! for that matter, this tail light is about to expire. so she'd be fine not even charging for the part!

clearly there's an overlap here. she could charge him $100 for the work and he'd be over the moon happy and she'd be over the moon happy. but why would they be happy? not simply because they both got what they want. they'd also be happy cuz they'd both think they were getting a total steal. they both think they're sooooorta ripping the other person off. they both actually value the work much, much differently than the $100 would suggest: the man thinks he's indirectly stealing from the mechanic. and the mechanic thinks she's indirectly stealing money from the sad man.

so: if two people make each other happy in a transaction, is that enough to make the transaction ethical? else, if their intentions and motivations aren't ethical, does that dirty the whole thing up? if you intend to do evil, but your actions have an effect opposite from the one you intended, did you act unethically? for instance, if you intend to murder Person A for eating your entenman's raspberry-cheese coffee cake. by shooting him with a gun. and Person B is about to be abducted for rape by Person C. and you mistakenly hit Person C cuz you've actually never fired a gun before. thereby saving Person B's life, potentially. but at the very least saving her from rape. did you perform a purely *good* action? no way. you intended to kill a man for eating your coffee cake.

actions are not judged only by their outcomes. and so making money at all is suboptimally ethical. it's true.

i reckon we all just have to try to minimize ethical violations by getting comfortable with less. by walking more. by reading more. by talking more to our friends. and to our strange neighbors. you don't need a new bag. the one you got with the oil stain on it works just fine.

now go listen to a story from your mailman.

erin hooley/chicago tribune caught marissa.... working for money! but also for love.

erin hooley/chicago tribune caught marissa.... working for money! but also for love.

middle brow missions

whitney day block party. at bungalow by middle brow.

a couple years back, this local band made this record. ... we were making beers and naming them after bands we loved. we made a beer for soho house. frankly, it didn't turn out. it was a belgian single with strawberry vibes and grains of paradise. but it was brewed at a brewery that didn't quite get us just yet. and they fermented it all wrong, despite our insistence. ("these guys are idiots!" ... they thought. way back when. and we were. just not that kind of idiot.) and anyway, we named it after a studio run by steve albini. chicago legend. but it hardly ever sold. it took fucking for-e-ver. to finish selling. and eventually our relationship w soho house sorta fizzled.

but then we had the chance to make the beer again. just when we happened to hit our groove. just when we really knew how to blend yeast. and what "blended yeast" meant, relative to the other yeast games. and out came a dry-hopped, sour belgian table beer with grains of paradise. strawberries on the nose, yeah. but, like, the dried interior of a fully consumed fruit bowl on the palate. and an unearthly earthiness. a funk that wasn't too funky. and a soft, lilting sound. following us around. the kind of beer that you taste juuuuust for a split second. as someone is getting out of their car. before they shut the door. just enough to ID the song. am-radio-in-the-70s style. and so we thought: who captures that style? who wrote the songs that we keep hearing this summer? from other people's car-door speakers. as them folks alight and approach us. and which of those bands feel sorta funky. but only sorta. and fruit forward. softly hopped. and secretly interesting. and nostalgic for something difficult. cuz we sorta missed the difficult times. with our silly ex-girlfriends and boyfriends. in barnes and nobles. and crying in front seats. and in sub-divisions.

and whitney did. whitney made us feel those things.

they still do.

and so we named it after them. and @lulacafe bought it. and poured it on keg. and joel loved it. and it turned out, much to our surprise, that, like, half the band either worked at or were connected to lula. so most of them drank it. and malcom particularly liked it. and he brought a bunch of cases to his dad.

so here we are. expanding on the beer we made and were later permitted, by the band, to keep calling *WHITNEY*. thanks to their graciousness. and we're expanding on it with a giant block party. (wink.) conceived of and organized by the whitney boys (max and julien). on mozart street. right out in front of our brewpub.

and we'll have so many fun things happening. just you wait. until next friday morning. when i lay them all out. and you can't resist. leaving your home. on a friday night. which you never do anymore.

and you'll wonder why.

next friday night.

new beer breakdown

unnamed-17.jpg

*LITTLE CRUSH*

ok. holy shit. i mean HOLY FUCKING SHIT! have you ever eVeR EVER even seen a god damn hop before? you haven't. not until you've seen our hops. and we dumped 837 pounds-per-milliliter of them into our brand new session ipa! it's called *LITTLE CRUSH* and holy fuck it's the best beer of all time and iiiiiiiittttttt'sss baaaAaAaAAAaaaaAaAAAAAccccckkkkk. and whoops. wait. oh no! i think... it's ... can you even beli... jeff! jeff did it alr... are you sh.... HOLY FUCK THANK GOD we have just 1 (one) (ONE) (YOU WON) 4-pack left and every single beer fan in existence is outside our door waiting to spend $18 on a this little 4-pk cuz we're mktg geniuses cuz we used to be in mktg and ALL OUR PRODUCTS are GREAT.

(click) (hiss)

back to middle brow. cuz uh...... we try not to talk about our beers like they're the best beers you've never had or will ever have. we think they're better than most other beers we drink because of course they are because why the f would we brew something we thought was worse than the alternatives. but that doesn't mean you'll think that, necessarily. and we respect you too much to pretend like we can manipulate your tastes by telling you how amazing our beers taste to us. ... even though we likely can. it's just... like our manager said today. and like we explore below. ethics are a persistent thang. (stop barking steve!)

which brings me to little crush. last year we made this beer. for the first time. and the very first batch. ... well. ... we sent a can to kate bernot. one of the best (and very few) beer writers in the country. based in montana. (at the time she may have been based in arizona? does it matter? should i edit this part out?) and anyway. she liked it so much that she called it one of the best beers of the summer.

which was funny to us. not because we didn't like it. WE LOVED IT! as far as we were concerned, it was THE BEST IPA IN THE ENTIRE CITY OF CHICAGO. or maybe even THE ENTIRE FUCKING SPACE AND TIME. instead, it was funny because we went the first 6 years without brewing a "real" ipa. that is, one without any belgian yeast at all in it. or without a blending component. or whatevs. this was our first shot, though. our first attempt at a style we almost never brewed. and our first attempt at a style whose beers, we thought, almost always missed the mark. beers that were abrasive hop water. or sugary fake-beer. or whatever.

so we were proud of our first shot-from-the-paint. it was going over well! and we didn't really want to be one of those breweries that altered a single hop addition and called it a *nEw BeEr*. or tweaked a grain bill on the margins and called it a *special releeeeese*. so.... we weren't one of them. we've since made many batches of crush. all derivatives of the very first *LITTLE CRUSH*. first, there was *AZACCA CRUSH*. then *NELSON CRUSH*. then *SABRO CRUSH*. and now we're back to the first little boy. *LITTLE CRUSH*

so should i talk about the beer, already? ok. yeah fine. well: it's a little india pale ale. but not abrasive like many other session ipas on the market. it's got a little grapefruit (chinook). a little peach (yeast). it's a little crusher. a little bitter. a little tropix (el dorado). a little round. a little mouthy. a little oaty. a little wtf-y. good w a little salad.

we're all hearts-in-eyes over here. about it. even though we can hardly stop selling our recent wild beer, *IF IT'S CROWDED*. and *CAN*, our kolsch-ish. those beers might have our minds. and our bellies. but *LITTLE CRUSH* has our hearts. and our diaries. dear all day. and all night long. all night.

come drink the only hoppy beer you'll ever actually like. at middle brow. right now.

soft boys and soft beers. in logan square.

fresh beer fridays. at bungalow by middle brow.

middle brow \ citizen how /

.......... real quick.

i heard someone say the other day: $15 for toast?! it was at the farmer's market. the green city market, specifically.

the people who shop at green city earn wayyyyy above median income. for the record, we in the service industry earn below the median income. somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 for a full-time worker. and we work our faces off... dishwashers and line cooks, earning wages, are often pushed to work 12-hour days. (we refuse to do this to our workers, for the record. it's also plainly bad business for other reasons.) managers are often pushed to work 80+ hour weeks.

so when i hear someone say "$15 dollars for toast?!?!", i hesitate even to serve them. i don't really want their money. truly. we just don't need it. there are plenty of customers in the world who understand the economics of that piece of toast. and are willing to pay for it. but let me get into the nitty gritty a bit more... the economics of that piece of toast. because i don't think those people are evil. the people who make comments like that. i think they're just embarrassed because the price is higher than they expected (because they didn't read the menu). and they're way inclined to walk away. and how's that gonna look to this hipster man here?!?! well fuck them and their toast!

first things first: if the vast majority of people are willing to pay $15 for a piece of toast at the farmer's market, then that's the fair price for a piece of toast at the farmer's market. but, just to be a bit more transparent, here are the inputs: all of our bread is naturally leavened. that means we don't buy commercial yeast. instead, we feed a yeast starter every single day. and we feed it with the highest grade grains we can find. from a mill in the driftless area of wisconsin, who mills grains grown by farmers in the midwest and great plains. north dakota and kansas and wisconsin, in name. ... the owner of the mill, gil, is a sweetheart. a true grain dork. and he drives in to sell his product from lone rock, wi, every week.

after delivery, jess stax all the 50 lb. sacks on the dunnage racks. using only her guns! no no. we're anti-gun here. super. using only her hori hori garden knives. yes! the two hori hori garden knives growing out of her shoulders. fucking weapons, them. then, our bakers take gil's flour and add water, starter, and salt to a mixer. and spend hours mixing and folding and shaping. and we let the dough rest, or proof, overnight. the next morning, we bake it off. it's two days of labor for one loaf of bread. now, we can reasonably make roughly 40 loaves in two baker days, given that we also have to shape hundreds of pizza dough balls. and given the size of our cold storage and our oven.

as you can hopefully tell, most of the cost of a loaf of bread is labor. for this particular piece of toast (our hearty-as-fuck rye bread, goat chevre from j2k farms, a crushed egg from mint creek farms, purslane from green acres farm, jostaberries from spence farm, and salt, pepper and olive oil), the ingredients drive a lot of the rest of the price. but those ingredients all have labor costs baked into them too! jody and joe at j2k make the chevre. their goofy, gangly 15-year old son sells it at the market. we mess with him a bit every saturday. he's a hard worker, and committed to helping his family. for now, at least. harry carr and a handful of farm workers help produce the eggs that we buy from harry's daughter raya, who runs sales and events and marketing at mint creek and is also a friend. beth eccles, owner of green acres and fucking legend, works green city market every weds and sat. after setting up the market on wednesdays, she makes deliveries around the city. our prep cook deric rides along most of the time. her daughter, who also works at Cafe Marie Jeanne, does too. marty at spence farm is a true farmer's hero! someone made a rad documentary about him and his farm. with a super cool vimeo trailer. i'm always wowed by vimeo trailers. anyway, he got us these super weird jostaberries. from a farmer in his cooperative. a farmer who also has labor costs!

this says nothing of market day. every friday, jess and pilar and i ready the market all day. then i tend to work the floor or the line until 10 or so. if i'm lucky, i can leave then, but usually i stay until 11 or later, tying up loose ends. my brain is hurried still, so i do trivial computer work until 12a. then i wake up around 330a, to gather the last market items. jess is usually at the brewery before me, baking fresh bread for that market day. we load up and are off by 5. (meanwhile, jess is starting a second bake at the brewery, to prepare for a day and night of service there). we unload and set up at the market by 630. and then we sell our goods until 1p. load the van back up. drive it back to the brewery. process all the "stuff" (extra bread, dirty implements, etc.). pack it all away. and then work the floor or the line until the 11s again. it's about 39 hours of work in two days. for me alone. that says nothing of jess's massive friday and saturday. i reckon nearly 12 hours each day? of brainstorming beautiful toast toppings. and then producing them and packing them efficiently. all while shepherding the bread alive.

it's a massive, labor intensive operation. and we can hardly charge anything for what we make at the brewery. because customers, sadly, won't pay very much for it (the same toasts cost $6-8 at our space). and so, many people like us do this work for very little money. for love, really. ..... but then! green city market! people are there for an experience. and they'll pay lots more to make sure that experience is worth it. and we help give them that. with our beautiful, delicious, locally- and ethically-sourced, calorie-rich toasts. we're proud to make them happy. it makes us happy to see their faces after the first bite.

$15 for toast?! maybe the shock is at how low the price is? because we're delivering all of the above, including the experience, to you. in that little compostable food boat. it's a steal, really.

next time you buy food at a restaurant, consider that the people working to make you meal happen can rarely afford to the live in the same neighborhood as that restaurant. shit, sometimes they can barely afford to live. and many of them most definitely can't afford a broken arm. especially if they have families.

spend less money on electronics. and on day-to-day transportation.

walk more.

middle brow missions

we've been up to way too much, maybe.

so much that i ain't got time to write it all out. so here are some pictures of our summer so far...

strawberry man vintage at our *PEOPLE WE KNOW* market.

strawberry man vintage at our *PEOPLE WE KNOW* market.

open books. from the west loop. popped up at middle brow.

open books. from the west loop. popped up at middle brow.

green city market! saturdays! lincoln park!

green city market! saturdays! lincoln park!

undercover episodes. bungalow as modern dance venue.

undercover episodes. bungalow as modern dance venue.


sportsman's club backyard bbbbbbq.

sportsman's club backyard bbbbbbq.

burger battle. at the inimitable pqm. against the inimitable bang bang pie. winners all!!

burger battle. at the inimitable pqm. against the inimitable bang bang pie. winners all!!

farm dinner at mint creek farm in wild stelle, il. [former commune.]

farm dinner at mint creek farm in wild stelle, il. [former commune.]

lia kohl and macie stewart. pitchfork fest after show. also desert liminal. and permacough. beautiful sets!

lia kohl and macie stewart. pitchfork fest after show. also desert liminal. and permacough. beautiful sets!

eight weeks for access. old male legislators be damned!

eight weeks for access. old male legislators be damned!

big city readers brought all the kiddos.

big city readers brought all the kiddos.

another outstanding in the field in the books. thanks to voyager, seedling, and liam and lindsay! that's a fig leaf kolsch.

another outstanding in the field in the books. thanks to voyager, seedling, and liam and lindsay! that's a fig leaf kolsch.

new beer breakdown

*IT'S CROWDED*

smell a miller lite. please. i even invite you to bring one here. to bungalow. tonight. i'll let you drink it. as long as you drink it next to our brand new foeder fermented beer. *IT'S CROWDED*. ... it's platonically you've-never-had-a-beer-like-it. it's free-rise fermented. it's fruity. it's fast and dry. it's woody. it's grassy. it's all bale and hay most the day. it's ripe apricot. it's silky, what with all the 100% lebanon-indiana sugar creek malt. it's breakfast. it's lunch. it's dinner. it's a diner. it's fine dining. it's a chop shop. it's a church. it's your perfect ma. it's a 30-something parent who knows only how to spoil, and not discipline, their child. it's marigold. it's candied pecans. it's wood. it's brick. it's iron. ... it's a pizza beer. it's a single beer. it's a simple beer. nostalgic. it's how beer likely once tasted. it's accidental. but it's no accident. it took years of practice. and we love it.

we love our newest beer. we true love it. truly. really.

that's all.

--

*CAN*

did you discover honey? or has it always just been there?

i discovered it. sometime in late college. i was working at some listening to npr. they were rapping about tomatoes and avocados. on toast. long before anyone outside nolita even knew what cafe gitane was. but in that same segment, i also heard about putting honey on peanut butter. i know... way late to the game. but i started putting honey on everything. buying different kinds. clover. fucking dark shit. serious. i had cabinets full of crystals.

now, i bring this up cuz every time i nose *CAN*, our new kolsch-ish, i remember when i put honey on a honey dew melon. way too much. the dark stuff. winter honey on a summer fruit. and it was dripping. almost crystallized.

this simple short sharp german beer has a whipped honey nose. an uber-clear visage. and a crisp, crush-face finish. you couldn't pick a better beer over which to obsess in these waning summer months. get here for your first. and then everyday again until your last. sometime in september.

fresh beer fridays. at bungalow by middle brow.

middle brow \ citizen how /

your own personal river. really.

i'm sitting here. in my landlord's side yard. listening to the hypnotic sound of running water. in their wo-man-made, artificial creek-coi pond thing. and it makes me reckon: rivers are it. really. the only metaphor we ever need. rushing. mellow. loud. soft. rude. gentle. simple. complex. wide. narrow. thoughtful. inconsiderate. anyway... rivers really are it. (there's another word! really! i had a dream last night that i named a daughter realize. so that i could call her really. as a sort of nickname. and how beautiful really would sound bouncing and echoing through the house and neighborhood. really!)

...

some people jump in lakes. some people don't. indeed they very much ease into them instead. the thinking being: this water's gonna shock-hurt the hell out of my penis/vagina! i better take it slow! ... and whew! there it goes. yikes! that was a rush. oh. ooooh. ok. ok ok. i think i got it. yeah. ok. yeah now i'm used to it. and oh how this describes craft beer. and life. in such a boring and obvious way. ... like: some people really take life by the horns! some people are a little more cautious!! oh hell fucking yes! george gordon lord byron over here. a regular pynchon paragraph. hang it up!

but no no. i mean this: we go so blind to everything. all the time. we let life happen to us, adjust our nerves/emotions/blood, and live a new life. we get into a lake or a river one way or another, and water currents flow past our bodies. and change our internal body temperature. and we adjust our brains to those bloody changes. and are totally blind then to the fact that our status quo has been altered.

there's a craft beer story here. ... imagine waking up early as f. i'm talking dark-outside 3a. and hooking up your flat-bottom boat to your hitch. and driving out to the humboldt park lagoon. pre-gator. and lowering the boat in. and floating around for a couple hours. with a fishing line and some bait. and a beer or two. dragging behind you. in the water. why does that beer get cold-ish (depending on the water) faster than a beer you put in the fridge? cuz new water is running past it constantly! stealing the heat from it! and starting again!

----~-~-~~~-~(cold water)~~-~~~---~~-~~> (floats past warm can) ----~-~-~~~-~(hot water)~~-~~~---~~-~~> repeat cycle. until: ----~-~-~~~-~(cold water)~~-~~~---~~-~~> (floats past cold can) ----~-~-~~~-~(cold water)~~-~~~---~~-~~>.

the can's internal temperate changes so quickly because water is flowing past it quickly and ripping the heat out of it (through conductive aluminum) quickly and jesus christ i'm just fucking kidding this is not how it relates to craft beer. not at all.

it's more like when people scream-say "behind" and "corner" in a restaurant. i sometimes say it too. but sometimes, instead, i merely say "excuse me" at a normal volume. or else i scream, "i'm walking at a particular pace and i refuse to break this pace not even for a second and so you better get the fuck out of my way" sarcastically. and that's how rivers relate to craft beer. and, for that matter, to restaurants. in the brashness and rudeness and inconsideration of such. ... we do try constantly at bungalow to be more like a nice river, gently flowing around a rock. making way for the things that existed there before us. or that exist in a peaceful state. no need to interrupt them. or make them move. unless absolutely necessary. unless we've got a fucking avalanche we're trying to contain. or a fire we're trying to put out. (this metaphor works!)

but there's a bigger picture here.

craft beer: i read a tweet recently. can't remember by whom. and it caused me to scribble a little note in my "modestly topics" book. and it was about craft beer growth. and adaptation. and someone was baggin' on craft breweries for navel gazing. and making their 8th ipa of the year by february. and spending far too much time yelling dramatically and fecklessly about the macros (bud. miller. heineken. corona.). and patting each other on the back. and all the while, the macros are growing smart. they're acquiring good, sound craft breweries. they're investing in the brewpub movement. they're investing in online shopping and delivery. they're investing in media. etc. etc. etc. running circles around the silly little craft beer boys and girls. dumb to the river flowing past them. enveloping them.

and in some ways, this is right! but in other ways, it completely elides the organizing purpose of "craft" as an industry. as a word, even. the point of "craft" beer was to get back to caring about the craft. not simply rivering the shit out of a business. and acquiring this piece and that piece. and growing this way and that. and making whatever new selzter and CBD widget it floated past. could craft breweries STFU about their craft a bit more? fuck yes. please god. could they navel gaze a bit less? yes. see (every single goddess-living modestly ever written.) should they spend a single fucking second worrying about macrobreweries? i mean, shit. if they're a faux macro, maybe. if they're sierra nevada or sixpoint or some "authentic" craft "ish" dixie or PNW brewery with a jewel-osco font(tm) or whoever. but should we? should transient? should pipeworks or is/was? no.

point is: the relevant people employed by the macros don't spend time thinking about beer. and how to make it cool. and how to make it different. how to innovate behind it. they also don't really think about the brewpub experience in a real way. to the extent these things don't play into a particular widget growth model. whereas craft breweries have set up their companies in such a way as to encourage beer innovation. quick-footedness. painstaking attention to the manufacturing of a single beer. and the broader consumption experience. to make it personal to the proprietor. and that's what makes them fun. that's what makes them exciting. and edgy. that's what makes them attractive places for customers to gather. that's what makes them different.

that's what makes them real. really.

so the fact that AB Inbev is running circles around we modest craft folk wrt seltzer and cbd and distribution channels and media and etc etc etc does not matter. we want to be run circles around. we want to make something nice for our neighbors. to create a special "third place". and to make a modest living doing so. and to grow! from something very small to something very meaningful! and to create a career and a community doing so. ... we don't have to create 40 "third places" around the country. we don't have to sell our shit on amazon. we don't have to grow our company from $1 billion to $1.1 billion next year. cuz we don't have institutional shareholders who require national (international?) domination. and cuz then we'd just end up looking like the ballast point in fulton market. or that giant bud bar in the new wrigley field playlot. or whatever the fuck that giant disney-fulton flop is up there.

this applies to restaurants in chicago (and many other cities) too. it makes us a little cringy when we see resto group after resto group opening joint after joint after joint. ... true: if you wanna make a living in this business, you gotta be agile. you gotta be thinking about growth and the leading edge. constantly. but far too many people get caught up. they let the rude river take them for a ride. they open a place, and while it's on fire from lack of sound management, they're prancing around town opening up a second and third and fourth place. nice widget, there. would be a shame if it failed in the next five years. but then again, so what! just open a new one!

true: this model works. for money. for power. for "success". for good stories in 80s america. but does it work for self-respect? for happiness? for good stories in radical america? wethinks not. and we're happy to be part of the generation that thinks about self-respect. and happiness. and that values humans qua humans. and not qua economic animals.

really.

unnamed-3.jpg

new beer break down

*STILL BEER!*

hey. we sent out a lot of new beers in the past month or so. but none has us more excited and weirded out as *STILL BEER!*. and that's because it's unique. in chicago. and in the country more generally. sorta like our house sour kvass series. ... we know other breweries have flirted with zero carbonation. but we haven't seen any such beers on the market in years. we've been talking about it for awhile. and bryan finally came to me a couple weeks back. in reference to a wine barrel-aged mixed culture beer that we wanted to put on tap. and he said "why don't we make it still?! no bubbles!" and i said "fuck yeah. let's make this the one!" and so we did. and it's SO F'N WEIRD!!! and good. and cool. and it was aged for 9 months in a chardonnay barrel. so it's got oak. and a bit of butter. and all sorts of weird bretty and buggy things happening. lacto. pedio. you know.

and hey. again. we have this massive aversion to saying "we're the first!!!" we think it suggests a massive lack of perspective. and immaturity. and anyway. being "the first" is meaningless. often, if it isn't outright inaccurate bull shit, being "the first" is more an accident of timing and the synthesis of a dozen other ideas executed well by other people. ... so, we don't know if any brewery in chicago has released a still beer, or blended their beer with a natural wine, or made a kvass. but we don't care if they have, cuz we're not trying to be original.

but. are we the first brewery to release a still beer in a little while, and the only one that we know of in logan square to have one on tap? for now. yes. but we have a feeling, if this goes the way every other thing in craft beer goes, that we won't be the only ones for long. it's too weird to become popular, but it's not too weird to go unnoticed.

get your still beer here. *STILL BEER!* before your friends. now that's somewhere you can be first.

--

*PEACHES*

also new this weekend: another well-timed seasonal fruit brut ipa. this time, we used peaches. which are, like, just about to pop off. and whereas the strawberry essence is super sweet, and it gave folks the perception that our strawberry fruited brut ipa was sweet, peach essence isn't so much sweet.

... you know that cool burst you taste when you bite into a peach. where the skin sorta rips around the bite hole. and the peach fibers reach out toward their flesh partners, gone forever. into your mouth and gut. and your brain wakes up. and you stop thinking about everything you were just. and you taste a hint of sweetness from the skin. and juiciness from the flesh. and bitterness from the tang and scorch. it's almost a green peach. an early summer peach. a slightly unripe peach, tart and loud and fuzzy still. not mushy and soft and over-sweet. (though those are incredible, too.)

we packed a bunch of peach puree into an already-full fermenter. it was teeming. and we extracted just enough fruit for you to discern it. just the way we like it. subtle. another-able. so come drink a super light-bodied ipa. with a peach bite. on our patio. in our yard. this weekend.

--

*HOUSE SOUR #2*

another kvass. the drink of choice for slavic working men and women. made by soaking bungalow breads in hot mash water. this time, about double the poundage over last time. with a hint more rye than before.

the mouth is silky. the nose and palate are jammy and fruity. and finish is light and clean. again, we may not be the first chicago brewery ever to make a kvass. but we're the only ones right now with a kvass series. made using bread from our in-house bakery.

we're slowly becoming a local food fermentation lab. with our own haacp plan and everything. stay tuned here. and watch us forage and shimmy and shake. thanks ed.

fresh beer fridays. at bungalow by middle brow.

beer in bread

beer in bread

run never through it

our bungalow.

our bungalow.

it seems that every time i sit down to write now, i'm apologizing. for taking so much time away. ... i'm sad about it, really. i loved waking up early as fuck on friday mornings and shitting out a stream-of-conscious email. on things. on people. getting older. and wondering why.

but then my grandma died. and, while it wasn't exactly sad in the traditional way, it did take a lot out of me. a lot of words, that is. and then our patio started growing a bit. and we built a humble bar. the "littlest bar in illinois", in fact. and we reorganized our kitchen a bit more. and we hired some amazing new folks on the front side. and on the back side. and on the distro side. and are interviewing some even more amazing humans. management material, all of them. and we started selling our breads to wherewithall, the new joint by johnny and beverly of parachute. and our HVAC broke. or was maybe never designed or installed so wisely to begin with? either way, i spent two weeks straight on the roof everyday. but then we got some fans! and it feels like a fucking ball of a bar in puerto rico now. all the time.

and we kept producing beer! we've released so many in the past month. i hardly know where to start. *IS THIS IT*. *HOUSE SOUR #2*. *STILL BEER!*. *PEACHES*. *BLOC PARTY PASSION*. *IN THE WOODS*. *FIGURE IT OUT*. ... and events! we threw our very own pitchfork after show. and did a publican burger battle. and kept trucking out to green city market every single saturday morning. up by 330a. silently loading and preparing for the day. 98.7 fm tuned on. driving toward the rising sun. which kept rising. and setting. every single day. since we last spoke. a river in space, as it were.

dig deep / stay tuned.

middle brow citizen how

nothing's wrong.

so we've got a little bike friendship blooming among several of our employees. chucky started it all. and he roped his friend heather from letherbee in. and sam. and robyn. and german. and another couple new faces have rolled through with some major gearage. and so bikes are abuzz at bungalow! which has me all giddy, of course. ... i didn't have access to a car from 2009 to 2015. i rode my bike virtually everywhere i needed to go. very rarely taking the train to cover longer distances like the suburbs. so i'm a big bike head. with some old bike knees. and every time anyone is talking about their bike or a ride they recently took or plan to take or my chain keeps squeaking yo dude you gotta grease it up with chain grease or even wd-40 will work in a pinch and what's up with your bottom bracket is your wheel true? oh good. good. that's a nice wheel. a niiiiice wheel. that's a perfectly nice wheel! why you getting rid of it? ah shit i don't know i sorta want some of them cool yellow deep v rims all flashy and fixie and shit cuz i want my bike to be a target for theft and my seat to get stolen and this one time i rode from minneapolis to chicago in 5 days. 

"dude, i always wear a helmet," said chucky to german one day recently over the overwrought iron fence. [did someone just bring up bikes? i better go give them my two cents!] so anyway, i went and listened for a minute and then of course i did. i told them i'd never owned a helmet in my entire life. and i can't really foresee changing that habit in my late 30s. and chucky said: "i ain't trying to die out there". and ed brady chimed in that he fell hard once and crushed him helmet and the doc said that based on the impact necessary to crack the helmet he certainly would have split open his head and melted out of it. and i talked about getting hit by a car and flying through the air over by presence about 15 years ago. and landing, thank goddess, on the bike lock that i stuffed in my belt loops. which turned into a steel sled. saving my head from a monster of a whip toward the ground. probably would've perished then and there too. without the lock in my pocket. but even that didn't change my helmet behavior. 

... and then i rode off. naked of hard hat. down armitage and left on richmond home. thinking about climate change. and an argument i had in the back of a new your city cab with this stuffy ass lawyer from cravath called ian. about the precautionary principle. lawyers are the absolute worst. just ask one and they'll tell you.

so: the precautionary principle says: if you suspect something bad will happen, take action to prevent it from happening. but let's strawberry-flesh that out a bit. if a thing is extreeeemely unlikely to happen. and the bad result is super insignificant, it's unlikely anyone will take precautions against it. nor should they! compare that to an event, though, that's likely to occur in the extreme. the consequences of which are devastating. people should indeed take precautions against that. 

let's talk bike helmets again. what are the chances that a biker gets hit by a car? there's about 19,000 such accidents in the US per year. 800 of which result in death. but what's the context? about 130,000 pedestrians are treated in ERs after being hit by cars every year. and nearly 6,000 die. but let's back up again: wayyy more people are walking around than riding around. so those bike numbers actually sound a bit more serious. no surprise: biking is more dangerous than walking. but in 2013, almost about 4,500 motorcyclists were killed in car crashes. so there's some real dangerous shit for you.

in any event, riding a bike can be dangerous. but isn't some wildly dangerous sport or mode. despite that, though, parents these days are super fucking serious about putting helmets on their kids' heads. (note: every child born in the social media generation has at least two heads.) but it bridges political, racial and social divides. trump republicans in rich suburbs do it. anti vax liberals in hermosa do it. black parents. brown parents. pink parents. it ain't like the 80s. kids wear helmets. and adults wear helmets. but why? why, if fatal bike crashes are overall a pretty rare thing, given the context?

because losing a child is a massive loss. and so palpable. a single story about a kid knocked off his bike into purgatory is enough to send every young parent into a tailspin. are helmets even effective? doesn't matter. there's actually some surprising academic work and reporting on it. the mere fact that they intend to reduce head injury is enough. because head injury can be so devastating to a young child. 

which brings me to climate change: the jury is not out. it's in. it's been in for years. as certain as untreated cancer cells will cause death: human activity has lead to climate change. which will lead to famine, war, death, etc. so why does half of this country ignore the precautionary principle when it comes to climate, but not when it comes to their child's safety?

first, a helmet is cheap. it doesn't require virtually any sacrifice by any republican or democrat. 

on the contrary: the actions and behaviors meant to stall climate chance are pitched as expensive ones. and some of them are! my response to that, though, is who the fuck are you?!?!?! what's up with this massive sense of entitlement? why should you get to live the way you want? why are you entitled to a lawn, and a big car, and keeping lights on all the time, and water on while you brush your teeth, and etc. etc. etc.

we've organized a completely inefficient society because we were myopic. we didn't think about certain efficiencies, when, for example, we allowed companies to build factories far away from city centers where land and labor are cheaper. without taxing them any more. ... some of the most important things governments do is help us get from point a to point b. trains. subways. buses. long, clean highways. we all pay for the construction and maintenance of those highways, for example. and those highways allowed a rich man once to build a massive factory way out in the hinter. where land was cheap. and where he could hire people, pay them fairly low wages, build cheap housing for them, etc. and get rich!!! rich rich rich!!!! and we all paid for him to do that. 

this seems a bit fucked up to me. i walk or ride to and from the brewery every day. and drive once or twice a week usually within a mile or two of my house and work. but i pay for a road that makes an ugly man rich! and why?! he should have paid us for that road. fuckloads more!!! and then maybe he wouldn't have done it.

... well ... what about all the cheap stuff you get, pete?! yeah. what about it? do i need it? why'd we organize a society that encourages that kind of consumption? do i really need two salad spinners? i don't even use the one, clearly. all i frankly need is a nearby thrift store with blue and black clothes and plaid wool blankets. a bike. a tool set. some reclaimed lumber. and youtube. jk jk jk. i do way more than that. and i most definitely don't know how to use tools. but the bigger point here is that i don't knead, like, 80% of the "cheap stuff" i have. and i don't need the roads. my happiness and quality of life would be terrific without any of it. i know it cuz i've done without it. and i ain't that special a study.

the point of all of the above is: the consequences of climate change are certain to be bad. if we change our behaviors, we could slow or even reverse it. we aren't entitled to a certain way of life. and we're capable of the sort of long term vision necessary to make changes. (see: bike helmets on rugrats.)

now if only we could alter our human nature to join teams.............. (or, at the very least, our myopia about why certain political teams take certain positions: rich people don't want to change their behaviors or pay more in taxes, so they rile up people about other shit like abortion (how nervous the reasonable rich are getting!) and guns (the laws never seem to change!) to garner team support for policies with low impacts on the economic status quo.)

i'll start wearing a helmet if you stop leaving your lights on all night cuz you're afraid of the other comfortable white people in your suburb. what a deal! let's make more deals like 'em! ones that are nicer to our future bodies and our future children's future bodies.

in the meantime...

mean times

in them always. or never.

the meantimes of wintertimes are screen times generally. (and, i'll digress in a tic here, but i think that says a lot about the lie of chicagoans being tough about the winter. where's the winter hiking?! where's the ice skating and the snow shoeing and the rolled maple snow cones?)

but today we marvel at how much meantime the springtime brings. in them meantimes, we go outside. ... or maybe we're thinking about it wrongly. maybe the springtime steals meantimes. instead, we fill that time with walks. and gardening. and sharing plants and recipes and catching up with neighbors. and bike rides to cal fisheries. and such. and maybe all that stuff ain't the meantime; the mean between what?!?!? maybe instead the work and home making times are meantimes. and the above are all the real times.

these are all questions and bloody metaphors for you to ponder on our brand new patio. legal as of yesterday. which we might open today (stay tuned to our social media). and it ain't gonna be nothing special. we still got a big ol' puddle in it. and we haven't finished the tables quite yet. and we've got some major planter work to do. but we'll have a jockey box out there. and a couple beers flowing from it. and you can look up at the sky. with a couple friends or a good book nearby. in a real time.

new beer notice

*STRAWBERRY JAM*

we gots a new brut! a new brut ipa! a sparkling beer! pet natty, but not actually natty at all. it's called *STRAWBERRY JAM*. it tastes very lightly like strawberry candy. but not saccharine. as our former baker/current pal hanna put it. ... more like fruit leather. which strikes us as right on. it has a sort of oranj wine color. and is effervescent and zap of body just like a good pet nat'd be. the subtle thought like "is this beer?" and "is this wine?". shit if we didn't ask that ourselves from sip to sip.

one problem, wethinks, with strawberry beers is that there's either too little strawberry going in 'em. or too much strawberry kool aid action. like someone took a net of strawberry mamba chews and submerged them in some half-fermented wort. (wait, is that a description of all neipas'n stouts these days or nope?)

but this brut babe is like you nosed a mara de bois. in some wild mountain out-town. and you wondered how you'd ever eat a jewel-osco strawberry again in your life.

come drink a light ipa beer. with some light fruit. and some other earth and such. and bubbles! and life! and summer time! an orange petty beer for the patio.

*LODGER*

and we got another one!!! a hoppy hefe. a hopfenweisse, as it's called in another country. saxony. and don't you pretend that beer culture will fall apart if our servers can't quite say the word. we can call it a hoppy hefe and it'll all be just fine.

anyway, this sucker is neat. (words by bryan.) it's like a screaming loud orange creamsicle. familiar but totally foreign at the same time. a hop bill of amarillo, mandarina and caliente. and it's way fruity and easy and mouthy. but then, still, every few sniffs you'll remember that last time you cut morita chile peppers.

fresh fridays! at bungalow by middle brow!

nice times

a long time ago, i told y'all to dig deep. and to stay tuned. it's because i started writing this memo when i we had all but signed a lease on a new space. and i knew we had a future, rather than merely a past. 

this weekend, after years dreaming (i'm talking 17 years since the first dream happened), we're effecting the last piece of the first item on the list: an outdoor element. polly's planted some plants. some donated by our radical neighbors, jamie and serena. and some purchased by her. we're readying the jockey box. for a couple modest kegs. it's pretty DIY out there. and catch as catch can. as colleen malone put it. which is about who we are. and who we've been. for the past 17ish years. and the past 8ish years. and the past two years.

hope to see you soon.

dig deep / stay tuned. 

another nice photo by michael albert.

another nice photo by michael albert.