middle brow | citizen how

we men and women of the silhouettes. 

you heard we're opening a brewpub? it's true. and we want to talk about the equipment we're buying for it.

but first... when you come to our communities. you see beyond the periphery. behind the shadow. we're here with our children. and our warped frying pan. and our dog-eared books. and our hand-me-down bicycles. and our messy heads. and we work hard. and search for and find a place in our community. 

and it's not that you rich men don't do all those things. or, at least, that last thing. it's just that the consequences of many of your actions make it harder for us to do those things. they make you and your communities richer. but they make us poorer. and you claim to know that. and to have a quick-and-easy solution to it, but you always find a way to avoid implementing that solution. because rich men become rich as a result of their loss aversion. ... they hold on, hold on to what they have. desperately. and despite any negative result for their former communities.

what the fuck am i talking about?

it's sorta like this. ever hear of a needle exchange program? i don't think there's a strong one in this city, but just you wayt. needle exchange programs provide clean needles to drug addicts. they're an almost obviously positive thing. but it takes some work to get fully on board with them. to come to terms with the fact that you're supporting drug addicts. but it's ok! you should support drug addicts! because before they were "drug addicts", they were people. and after they were "drug addicts", they were people. and while they were "drug addicts", they were people. and they're gonna shoot up, whether you like it or not.

now, should they shoot HIV into their veins in addition to heroin? let's say no. let's just accept the fact that drug addicts exist. and they'll find their fix either way. and let's give them a place to acquire clean needles. let's not ignore reality.

and what about the term *sponsored content*? you see it everywhere these days. on your favorite news sites. on the most devilish social media platform going. everywhere, really. the term just means: "hey. we're trying to get you to buy something. and the old way to advertise it don't work no more. so we're just gonna pretend that a writer from this seemingly independent newspaper wrote an article about the thing. touting its pros and ignoring its cons. and after you read the "article", you'll be compelled to buy the thing."

can you imagine if this sort of thing was happening in secret? it'd be a massive scandal. nobody would ever trust the washington post, say, again. but because they add the phrase "sponsored content" to the top of the article, and a little two-line disclosure at the bottom of the article in italics, we let them off the hook. we're meant to understand that the associated article is a sort of advertisement.

that's bull shit, though. right? we know damn well that humans generally ignore smaller text. and italicized sentences. and formulaic text. and boilerplate disclosures. we know that! and that's why the *sponsors* of the content are fine with adding these types of disclosures. because they know that for tons of folks who read those articles or tweets, the *sponsored* nature of the content won't ever register. and they'll just walk around thinking they stumbled upon some new truth. let's not ignore reality.

which brings me back to our equipment. our dear leader imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum last week. but what in the hell are tariffs? they're quite simple, actually. a tariff is just a *tax* on an import.

so, if you imagine cars as whole products, conjured up all at once. and you were standing in detroit, talking to two car salesmen. and both were trying to sell you the exact same chevrolet, one housed in windsor, canada, and one in detroit. if there was tariffs on cars, the car from detroit would cost less than the car from windsor. so you'd buy the car from detroit, right?! and then you'd take your savings and go buy some pogs to add to your collection.

you can imagine the effect this would have on the car industry in the US. tariffs *protect* domestic industries by making their products cheaper than similar products made in foreign markets. but *protection* is a good thing, right? wrong. protectionism often leads to trade wars. which can lead to real wars. like, ahem, world war i, say.

and so to avoid trade wars. and real wars. FDR started liberalizing US trade rules. and convinced much of the developed world to do the same. and we entered an era of free trade among countries that culminated over the last two decades in massive multilateral trade deals like NAFTA, the FTAA, the WTO, and the EU. 

but all this free trade meant that the domestic industries that were inefficient relative to foreign industries were at risk of deteriorating. if chinese steel firms could make steel more cheaply than US firms could, then US steel firms would slowly shut down, the story went. but wait! the free traders argued. if steel and aluminum and meat and precious metals are cheaper for other countries to produce, we'll get richer! and the products made with those raw materials will be cheaper for all of you to buy! and there'll be all this extra money! and we can use that extra money to *retrain* workers from dying industries. and we can give them free healthcare while they're undergoing this retraining. and they'll come out way more skilled than they ever were! and prepared for a twenty-first century economy! and on top of that, we'll still have extra money. with which to create more companies and more jobs.

but then those same free traders voted time and again to cut the shit out of taxes. such that there was no money available for healthcare. and for giving new skills to unemployed sheet metal workers. and communities were torn asunder. and tribalism and racism reemerged. and donald trump was elected.

whoops! back to trade. 

the point is: let's not ignore reality. free trade might be great for lots of reasons! it might have been the rising tide that lifted all our boats! but then it wasn't. because the people in charge of our boats were also in charge of their own boats. and they made sure their boat was standing on a tower of water before even remembering there were other boats around them.

so back to tariffs: while i'm opposed to broad-based tariffs. unthought out tariffs. the kind donald trump would impose. of course. not all tariffs are bad. targeted tariffs that punish bad actors. or that protect dying or newly-budding industries make sense. as long as their phased out over time. and as long as we're addressing the needs of all the people affected by those industries. but let's not ignore reality. currently, we don't care about those people.

--

what's this got to do with our equipment? the vast majority of the equipment we purchased for our brewpub is made from US steel and oak by US manufacturers. because we believe in the workers in these communities. we don't want to add to the pile. we want to support them where our government and business leaders have not. and we're excited to share the stories of our purchases in the coming weeks.

for now, the belief that guides all of our decision-making:

we believe the financial ethic that has defined corporate behavior for the past 30 years must be countered with an experiential and stakeholder ethic. and since this experiential and stakeholder wealth depends on strong communities, we work to strengthen our communities through beer and labor. drink good. do better.

comfortable eating and drinking.

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thanks again to lula cafe for having us at their comfort station chef's dinner this pastmonday. we were stoked to be paired with diana davila's rabbit mole dish. she's working wonders over at mi tocaya. go have yourselves a happy happy hour at hacien...

wait just a fucking second! wait! what?! holy f'n shit. obv i have to do the occasional google search for these missives. to confirm accuracy about this point or that. and i just read an article about diana davila. and she's from our hometown! oak forest, illinois! and she's also 35! and look, oak forest is our beloved shithole of a town. it ain't naperville. where, like 1 out of every 3 people grow up and work in finance or banking and move to chicago. and the other 2 move to denver. it's an amazing scrappy-shit town. so when someone even has a 708 area code, i get excited. but our beer just happened to be paired with this bad ass chef's food. formerly of oak forest, illinois! happenstance! superstance! hello, diana! meet ya soon!
 

new beer breakdown

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*QUEEN* - bohemian pils - 4.7%

i don't know how we ever made anything but pilsners. drinking a clean, crisp pilsner is something plato would probably do if he lived in this super cool craft-beer-bro-it's-everything era. socratic method brewing company. they'd launch with an aristotelian amber. take home 6th place in paste mag's blind tasting with their pythagorean pale ale. speak to the late 80s craft beer aficiando in every town with their metaphysical english mild. and go in and out of style with their platonic pilsner. it's *almost* the perfect beer form. easy to drink. floral from some just-a-touch'n hop'n. bready. clean finish. so crisp it could snap a streak of twelve 40º days in a row. there's a reason macro beer derived from this style. it's sorta weird that pilsners ain't greek. like everything else in the world secretly is.

anyway. they're not. they're czech. and sometimes german. and either way pretty similar in the end. and we made one in the czech tradition. a bohemian pils. we like to think we're pretty bohemian. and we really dig vaclav havel. he fought for the little guy. and the little gal. the easy-to-ignore. the silhouettes of men. not quite in the shadows. but only ever seen in the periphery by the powers that be. a man after our own hearts.

our boho pils is called *QUEEN*. and he's just a poor boy from a poor family. if you couldn't tell, we named it after a famous little classic rock hymn. the very first kegs will the city late next week. and in about a month's time we'll have some cans on your favorite shelves. so keep peelin' your eyelids back!

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*coming in april* 

little. hoppy.

we've got some big'n hoppies under our belt. but yesterday we brewed our first little hoppy number. is it a session ipa? a pale ale? you'll soon find out. in any event, it was hopped up with el dorado, mosaic and chinook hops. be ready for the big three: tropical, citrus and pine. more on this in a few weeks.

big. hazy.

and remember: we never want you to forget that we're total sell outs. like, secret agent level sell outs. hint: the hop helmer in our latest *SELLS OUT* takes her name from britain's most famous spy.

a modest announcement

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hi there.

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this is why i wanted you to stay tuned.

we'd like formally and finally to announce that: middle brow is opening a brewpub.

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this coming fall.

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on armitage avenue. in logan square. (read article below closely.)

 imbibe magazine. 

imbibe magazine. 

we'll brew belgian beers there. and middle classics. and wild ales. and we'll do very much beer blending.

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we'll also have pizza ovens. which we'll likely use to make pizza. but... maybe not?

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and we'll be adding quite aggressively to our social efforts. think: labor as fundamental. stay closely tuned on this point.

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and we'll raise herbs and hops and fruits and vegetables in our on-site community garden.

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middle brow | citizen how

about 3-4 years ago. when middle brow was a mere toddler. which, by the way, lasted a good 2-3 years. there was a bit of a tiff in the local, 'til then unified craft beer scene. a brewery put some pretty sexist shit on their label. they denied there was any sexist intent, instead claiming that the label and beer name were part of an inside joke. and when they released the next batch, they changed the name and label to something sarcastic about smiles and sunshine and flowers and love. 


we threw our two scents into the online discussion. we were hesitant at first: after all, we were just toddlers. and we really liked these guys. (still do, it turns out.) but then we remembered that we started this company for two reasons: to make good beer, and to fight for the little guy. and before we were brewers, we were humans who spoke out against misogyny and sexism, both in public and online. we couldn't stop doing so because of the LLC next to our name; in fact, that LLC was all the more reason to say something. it (very weirdly) commands a certain level of respect and attention. ... even if our punches were still super small for now, we had to throw 'em.

oh. and a short heads-up: there's nothing very funny about this rant. at least that i can foresee. 

anyway. that was a turning point in our company. we were who we were. and we weren't gonna shy away from it to sell beer.

but whoa. enough about us. the point of this rant was not to talk about all the great shit that we men did in response to something that happened to women. that's, like, way too common. and constant. i think it's called centering the discussion on men. or something like that. but no matter the name of the behavior, pay attention to whether you do it. i bet you start catching yourself more and more. like, i was just starting a rant about how sexist the beer industry is, and almost immediately i started talking about how genuine the middle brow dudes are about fighting sexism. ... if this misogynistic shit's ever gonna end, we gotta be more careful when we're thinking about and discussing it.

so... the sad thing is: this fucking sexism still rages on in craft beer. sometimes it's outright explicit. like the dumb ass pink ipa that brewdog made for women. i ain't a woman. though we at middle brow are very quick to blanche at hyper masculine tendencies. because i fucking like my flowery scarf, ok? and no. it's not polly's. it's mine. i bought it six years before i met her. and i wear it with this coat because the colors seem to fit together. what the fuck is feminine about that? have you *ever even fucking seen* george washington? who's the dickhead dude who redefined masculinity as heavy metal and camo gear? seems like a wildly insecure chap to me.

oh. shit. the male- and middle brow-centered digressions are constant. ... but anyway. i ain't a woman. and i won't pretend to know how the pink ipa makes women feel. but it sure looks like a misogynist bunch of bull shit to me. how about instead of making your beer labels so fucking masculine all the time. and instead using broken glass and irreverent, "tough" fonts and other facade-y shit to make a liquid taste like a gender, you market all of your beers to all the people who might drink them. then you wouldn't need a pink ipa. 

and i don't know shit about brewdog. and i probably never will. because absolutely nothing about them is interesting to me. but i'd bet all of the profit middle brow has ever made (-$3,472) that this decision was made by, or at the strong suggestion of, a dude. the same dude who makes all of the other unappealing (but somehow successful) marketing decisions for brewdog. ("somehow successful?", you ask if you're a woman. "uh. have you even read any of this rant you're bangin' out this am? it clearly works because hyper masculinity is pervasive. it's everywhere. it's natural for men and women to gravitate to the familiar. and hyper masculinity is the familiar. a massive chunk of the beer market stands at the ready to gobble up anything that screams 'tough american male'".)

it all kinda reminds me of how awful the tech scene in the bay area can be. it's just dude after dude after dude making decisions. and most of these dudes are young as f. like, just out of college. still wearing socks and adidas slippers to work. suuuuper stoked about the pool table in their lounge. and all the free snacks they get after work. and the weekly capoeira classes in the courtyard. and hey. dude. can i just come in at 1p? i'm, y'know, sort of a late starter. promise i'll work like a maniac 'til 1a. 'cuz i'm giving my life completely over to this company. my apartment walls and fridge are as naked as i imagine many beautiful women to be. and my laundry doesn't need doing cuz i just by 365 pair of underwear every year. #efficient. ... anyways, these kid-bros are running companies without any real life experience. educated to the 9s. sure. but educated as humans? hardly. and so they surround themselves with other juvenile males. and make really thoughtless, dude-heavy product and marketing decisions. thereby perpetuating the massive male-female imbalance that's prevailed throughout history. 

anyway. back to beer. and pink ipas. ... that's just the explicit sexism. i haven't even started on rape-in-beer-labels. whoa! holy shit! breweries are still suggesting rape and sexual assault and hard core sexual harassment on their labels. now? today? still? i mean, after the #metoo movement? yes. they are. 

and ass-grabs at beer festivals. whiudkja cbk adbsdas? whaaaAa?????? yeah. it's a common thing. drunk dudes. drunk women. ... dude just watch me. see that babe with the gorgeous ass? i'm gonna go graze her. just a little back-of-the-hand graze. watch. she won't even see me.

which brings me to an important point: sexuality ain't the problem. whether a particular label is suggestive of rape, on the one hand, or not meant to be in the realm of rape at all, on the other. that can sometimes be a difficult question objectively to answer correctly: some dudes proudly wear their suggestions of rape and sexual assault! no kidding! others, though, deny any assaultive intent immediately. and back away quickly. 

but... it's very easy to answer whether a particular label objectifies women. many do. hands down. now, is the objectification of women in and of itself a bad thing? no! neither is the objectification of men. we're sexual creatures. we'll objectify the shit out of each other when we're given the chance. especially when drunk.  and to pretend like that's only a male thing is super fucking sexist, actually. women are sexual too. women wanna bang guys. women think guys are attractive. even ones with beer bellies. sometimes, only ones with beer bellies. it's evolution baby!

but re-read "in and of itself" above. ... it might seem unfair to you. but even if you're a perfectly fair human. who treats women precisely as they deserve to be treated. and you release a beer with a label objectifying women. you and your company will face much-deserved wrath. and accusations of misogyny.

there's already way too much sexism in this world. we shouldn't have to spend time figuring out whether your label is actually not sexist because you're super fair to women everywhere and merely a sexual creature. because you have a track record for objectifying men and women with equal frequency. and for appreciating women also for the artistic beauty they bring into the world. and the power they command on a tennis court. and the creativity they display in the laboratory. and because you have a track record for hiring as many women for important positions as you do men. and for not being a misogynist fuckface. and just because you have a mother and a sister and a daughter. that doesn't help your cause. it just makes you look weird. 

if your label suggests rape or assault or objectifies a woman. you really don't have a place in this business. and i wish you would to go back to drawing homebrew labels for your friends. and we'll do everything we can to make that happen.


ok. i gotta wrap it up. but there's something super sinister about the quiet sexism and harassment that are even more pervasive than any of the shit i mentioned above. there was an article floating around beer twitter a couple months back. wish i had a link for it. but you should search it out. i vaguely remember some of the content: that it's impossible for a female beer buyer to be taken seriously. a certified cicerone. who gets asked by beer salesmen day in and day out whether she could go and fetch the beverage director please. and who has to say "i'm the beverage director" to an incredulous beer-bellied bum. and all sorts of other sexist shit. wait: here it is.

dudes: do better. women: do better. it ain't hard. it ain't weak. it ain't gendered to consider women as equal human beings. capable of everything a man is capable of. and, y'know, it bears emphasizing that there's also no need to compensate for years of shitty behavior by treating women as angels. or as geniuses. or as special creatures. or as unmatched talents. as far as i can tell, women just want to be treated as human beings. sure: they're distinct from men in lots of ways. but they're human beings. remember that as you grab your next sicks pack from the shelf. 

even after women's month ends.

middle brow | citizen how \ 2 march 18 /

the lifesource is human nature.

what makes folks regulars of places? well, humans crave familiarity. it's true and it's something we all know. seems hardly to require an explanation. you see it in the way notre dame grads so often snortle as they turn their back and close the circle to your boring big ten face. the clique is safe. and familiar. and you see it in so many unhappy jacks and jills. who've become jerrys and judiths. sitting in their work chairs. staring at a screen. collecting all their calories right in their mid-sections. unhappy, but safe. 

anyway, why do we crave such? what is it about familiarity that compels us so?

a few things, it seems. the first is that change is scary! new faces are frightening! will he like me? what kind conversationalist will he be? the kind who lets the conversation die down and then when you think it's over and you start to make let's-move-on hints he says with much volume and gusto "ANOTHER THING IS..." and you gotta follow along for another 2.5 minutes and it's not really a big deal because the new topic is interesting enough but you're just sick of feeling funny for trying and failing to end the conversation? ugh. i'd rather just tell another story to my friend from the dorms. 

and new jobs! don't eve get me started. what if the guy they sit me next to is EXACTLY THE SAME kind of conversationalist i just mentioned above? the girl i sit next to now is annoying. with her fucking kudos bars she keeps in her desk drawer. and always unwraps when i'm on an important phone call. and i can't hear the dude on the other end of our shitty corporate phone system. but she's mostly fine. and, even worse, what if i leave and fail? then i'm poor *and* i feel dumb.

so yeah. change is an absolute nightmare. 

but probably even more explicative is our generally tendency to avoid decision-making wherever we can. we're busy all the time. and making decisions is tiring. seriously. decision fatigue is a real thing.

and add to that the mere exposure effect, whereby one's preference for a thing tends to increase the more one interacts with that thing, and you have yourself an explanation of the "regular" phenomenon.

so really the story goes sorta like this:

starts off you just go to a place. maybe because it's been written about a lot in the chicago reader. maybe because your gal hated it and never wanted to go there and then you broke up. maybe because this girl who also went to vasser emailed you and wanted to meet up to "pick your brain" and you said you'd meet her and didn't care where and then she suggested this place and it's a little far and now you regret not setting the meeting place but you don't want to seem difficult so you just go anyway. and then you walk in. and it just feels right. like it was designed just for you. and everything is novel. and feels like it's from some much cooler time or place or dimension. (stevo.) and humans love novelty! discovery and the pursuit of novelty are necessary to survival. i promise. despite what i said up above. because humans contain multitudes.

and the novel experience, precisely because it was novel, sticks out in your head. and the next week when your step-dad wants to take you out to dinner 'cuz you were just fired from your juicing job, you think "ooooh. let's go back to [xxxx]!" there. that was an easy decisions. 

and then you get there. and whoa! that's the same host who sat me last time and told me about the pandan brioche! and thats the cute bartender who asked me if i liked his new necklace! and there's that woman. that one. no the one over there. against the half-partition. talking to that tragically hip couple. i think she's the owner. ... and as all these faces become more and more familiar, i tend to like them and crave them even more. and, guess what? they like and crave my boring big ten face even more too! and treat me well. and so i come back again and again and again!

well. a very similar collection of behavioral phenomena makes people regular consumers of beers: novelty + decision making fatigue + the mere exposure effect. look: regulars are the people who keep restaurants alive. who pay the bills. the people who go back again and again and again. not the one timer, destination folks. 

the same holds for beers. regulars make breweries thrive. now, we make beers that we like. always. but we also aim for every beer to be someone's regular beer. the beer they go back to again and again. the ultimate goal is to make a super outwardly simple but secretly complex "regular" beer. for us at least. we hope one of our beers plays that role for you. and if it doesn't, keep trying our stuff. we know you'll eventually find it. maybe it'll even be the BRAND NEW CZECH PILS WE'RE ABOUT TO RELEASE?!?! but you didn't hear that here.

oh! and even if it means you're just following your brain around. we hope you'll be a regular at the brewpub that we're about to announce. this ain't the announcement though. nope. not ready for that just yet. when we are, you'll see a nice big headline up top. and you'll have this weird feeling, like, "wait a minute. didn't i already know this? didn't they already announce it?" because we've dropped about twenty hints in the last thirty letters and we're pretty much straight up telling you right here. but nope. not until it makes it into a headline. you won't actually know it until that there moment. you bizarre and beautiful and big human.

new beer breakdown \ 2 march 18 /

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*SELLS OUT DEN* - hazy ipa: double dry-hopped; blended yeast; denali / amarillo / citra - 6.5%

y'all know about our sells out series, right? the crop of hazy ipa we make and ferment with a blend of four yeast strains? with the bouquet that's complemented by a quiet memory of something good you smelt sometime? that's so round on your tongue and finishes soft on your palate? you know, the most enjoyable, crushable ipa you ever did drink? the one that never compels you to grab your tongue to scrape the hop dust off it?

well. we released another one a couple weeks back. *SELLS OUT DEN*. with denali, amarillo and citra hops. and it's covered in pine and spruce and something quite green. and tropical and citrus-y notes. and it's likely still available, but only just, at the following joints: foodsmart, liquor park, sal's, tuscan sun, whole foods (select), beer on central, beer on the wall, the beer temple, bitter pops, crafted, dill pickle co-op, ezra's, fischman's, garfield's, gold eagle, handlebar, maria's, provisions uptown, rogers park provisions, standard market, the beer cellar, the open bottle, vas foremost, beermiscuous, binny's, bottles & cans, capone's, humboldt haus, olivia's, publican quality meats, the noble grape.
 

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*HOW IT STARTS* - wild ale: fermented w 100% brett blend - 5.5% 

and, speaking of yeast blends: we also just released a wild ale fermented with a super brett yeast blend. it's called *HOW IT STARTS*. remember? it's the beer that'll make you blink and furrow your brow and tuck your chin to your chest and sharply pull your head back while you extend your arm just a tinch and turn the can to the letter-side and think "what in the amazing fuck kind of beer is this?" it's a brett beer. and it's dry and refreshing and delicious. with a slight twang'n funk on the nose and palate. it'll likely be on the shelf right next to *SELLS OUT DEN*. buy it and try it. i dare ya.
 

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*CASK-AGED AD ASTRA* - w cherries + vanilla - 8%

and while you're out and about this weekend, stop in at owen and engine. and try the cask they just tapped. it's *AD ASTRA*. our salted caramel scotch ale. aged in a cask with cherries and vanilla. it's a beer that for some reason reminds us of that one time at our grandma's house in the 70s when the dog was sick and hiding under the couch and we were sitting on her floor prank calling people in different areas codes to get back at her for yelling at us about the cauliflower we couldn't quite finish. even though we weren't born 'til '82.

the smoke is mighty tamed by the cherries and the vanilla. and the salt sings through all that! it's a beautiful beer for the end of winter. treat your mouth, after all the cold day and night air through which it hustled.

citizen how \ 23 feb 18 /

was better / is better.

so how do i start? do you ever just remember? like, do you remember back when there were no school shootings? wait. shit. not yet. gotta get back to nostalgia. no more gun stuff. too much already today on guns.

back to my first super cool questch. do you ever just remember? sometimes i do. e.g. i'll be driving down a street in the suburb of my high school youth and i'll drive up a hill. a simple hill. but that hill will spark all these fond memories. like the one of the time i hopped on my bike after lifting the life-size space jam cut out of MJ from the family video while my dickhead pals distracted the pimply attendant and hurriedly rode away and up the hill like a cirque du soleil unicyclist  because i lived in fucking mallrats. or else, where i crawled under the saloon-style doors that guarded the porn section (course) while my dickhead friends distracted the stoner attendant because i lived in fucking mallrats. and so i'm driving up this hill for the first time in 12 or 13 years and as i crest the hill i see a stoplight in the near distance and even worse i see a sign announcing that streetlight. what a wild thing. what a wonderful moment. that subtle difference. the stoplight where there once was none. and not only had they had time to install a stoplight since i last skimmed this street. but they had time to learn that the stoplight was problematic and they'd better erect a sign warning people about the stoplight in advance. and what else could possibly have happened on this street these last 12 years? remember that time we scotch taped the whole intersection, stop sign to stop sign, so cars couldn't see the tape, and would drive right through it, and we hid behind the bush laughing hysterically as they paused in the intersection and wondered briefly there? remember that girl whose house was just over the second hill, and how cute you thought she was, and how you dated for what felt like decades, and how you climbed in and out of her window when it was late, and how you both crushed on other people the whole time, cuz you lived in fucking mallrats? and i wonder how my old bandmates are doing. that drummer was always so fucking handy. i bet he's a mechanic somewhere.

i remember like this all the time. but why don't i remember how disappointed my ma was when i got arrested for such fucking with cars? or how the girl cashed in her crush card with a few of those other cute chaps? or how our band was utter goat shit and we constantly go into band fights because of it? because i'm nostalgic. i'm a major sucker for nostalgia. i constantly misremember the past. i puff it up and smile and drive wistfully happy until the the rumble strips start screaming at me to snap the fuck out of my bull shit dazed and confused memory.

but nostalgia. boy. powerful thing, that.

i can't help but wonder just how much nostalgia has shaped society. (which is deliciously ironic if you stop and think about it for a tic. stop. tic. tic. tic. ironic as f, right?) like, e.g.a.gain, jesus. i mean, jesus was super fucking cool: he could have done all sorts of bad shit. but his homies were super nostalgic for their buddy j who was a major player in the natural wine game in judea. soif, eat your heart out. and somehow he still found time to hone his fly fishing craft. obv jesus was one of the best fly fishermen of his time! he was also super into the hospitality industry. and he dressed like a shepherd which is, like, so LA nostalgia btw. and he was always slaying everyone in the ayahuasca circle with his parables. so course they all started writing about him after he died. but their memories of all the jesus stuff spiraled out of control. ends up the guy didn't just make natural wine, he turned fucking water into wine. and he wan't just a good host. he once fed 300 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. fuck you. oh... did you say fly fisherman? no no. he didn't fish. he was vegan. you misunderstood. he wasn't fishing; he was walking across the water because he wanted to

and religion was born.

anyway. i haven't much else to say. other than the founding fathers did some terrible things. they owned humans. and only sometimes admitted, in private, how monstrous that was. but hey... remember the revolutionary war when "we" beat the english? remember the declaration of independence? remember the fife and the drum? remember "we the people..."? remember the right to free speech? remember the 3/5 compromi... wait. no no. not that one. but remember the right to bear arms? what glory! what exception! shining and beaming and bright on that hill! 

anyway. since the arguments against more gun control fall to pieces when anyone with half an interest in the topic engages on it, the only point gun owners are left to make is that the bill of rights protects their unhindered right to bear arms. no matter how many innocent people die. and so the nra and its minions refuse even to explore the effectiveness of gun control measures against mass shootings.

but why? what kind of crippling fucking nostalgia are we suffering from? are we that incapable of understanding how flawed the founders were? that their work should be updated and repaired. they were a bunch of old white dudes doing their best. and they did a pretty good job. but there's plenty more work to do.

not to mention, wtf kind of amendment is the second one anyway? the only amendment that (1) protects a particular group of people (gun owners) rather than people generally, and (2) provides a reason for its inclusion in the bill of rights in the actual text of the amendment itself. have you ever read the second amendment? here. go for it. right here.

"a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed". 

(super happy that jefferson was as into lowercase as i am.)

anyway. read it again. "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." think about that. this says that because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of our state, the right of people to bear arms shall not be infringed. does this seem like the blanket grant of a right to bear arms at all times and in all circumstances to all citizens? to me, it seems clear that the framers were thinking about their militias. equivalent to our armies. and the protection of the state against foreign enemies. or, shit, even local enemies. but nowhere does it require individuals to be free to purchase assault rifles. 

what if we weren't so damn nostalgic about the men who founded our country? what if we acknowledged the good shit, and admitted the bad shit? i mean: less than 1/3 of this country owns guns. so why are sensible gun policies impossible to pass? i can only assume we too easily succomb to nostalgia about america. about our plenty radical and special and imperfect country. and the bill of rights and the framers and the second amendment all remind us of america. no matter how familiar we are with the text of the amendment itself. or with its history.

this is not the  best of all possible scenarios. 

out in illinois \ 23 feb 18 /

the prairie path.

remember the first time you rode your bike on a bike path? it rained and rained and rained the night before. and you were all bummed cuz you were off pre-school the next day and you had big plans to play outside and ride the path in the morning and you hadn't yet figured out that if it was raining at 6pm that didn't mean it would be raining at 9am the next day. and so of course the sun followed the rain the following day and you got on your schwinn predator and your ma put your sister in the child carrier on the back of her bike and you took off down the block to the big old bike path. but when you got there, it was flooded from the night before. and you tried to ride through the flood against your ma's wishes but you got stuck halfway through and started walking back and a snake grazed your foot and that scared the fuck out of you so you got back up on your bike and pedaled instead of walking through the flood-puddle and then you and your 80s bike crew rode through town to your aunt's house.

bike paths remind us of the suburbs. and naperville, though we've only been there once or twice, strikes us as the platonic ideal of the suburbs. it also seems oddly representative of the word "illinois". and it's super odd still that there's an amendment to the bill of rights that's about such a specific group of people in gun owners? and the gun lobby tends to respond to arguments about more gun control by shouting about how "no child's life is as important as my second amendment rights!" jk they don't actually shout that. but wayne lapierre, the head sorta-man over at the nra, all but does. right? the worst of the men standing in the way of a shift in the gun culture.

we're also going out into our state this saturday. into illinois. and we're bringing two blended beers. one, our blended-yeast saison, *ROBYN*. a veritable greatest hits of belgium aromas and flavors. the other, the latest in our blended-yeast hazy ipa series, *SELLS OUT DEN*. if you'll be at the naperville winter ale fest, come say hi. i'll give you a warm illinois hug and a lovely chicago beer.

uppers and downers \ 23 feb 18 /

first, you learn to hurry. then, to hang around a bit. 

remember your dad's coffee breath? maybe you were lucky enough that your dad assistant coached your baseball team. and so he came to like two-thirds of your practices and holy fuck there's been 147 school shootings this decade?!? interesting, though, that most of them led to 0 deaths. and very few of them had more than 2 or 3 deaths. (not to suggest for a second that those deaths weren't meaningful.) but i think that's strongly suggestive that the reason this shooting is resonating in a different way is because so many more students died this time. and, sure, the kids happen to be motivated, and pro-gun control, but previous school shootings were smaller in scope and less gruesome and less scary and fucking mother fucker how did i get roped into thinking about this again. it's constant. gotta stop. gotta stop...

so anyway. your assistant coach dad with his styrofoam hat. he was almost always there. at nearly every game. and inevitably. at every single game. you'd get shit-scared of some pitcher's slightly wild pitches. and higher-than-average-cuz-we're-fucking-twelve-and-how-does-any-twelve-year-old-throw-like-that speed. and you'd be up to bat. and you'd take your stance on the very outer edge of the batter's box. and you'd swing at three of the sloppiest pitches you ever did see then. and shrug your shoulders and hurry back to the dugout. and your dad (and everyone else) could see your fear with his eyes closed. and would summon you over with a quick little finger hook. and you'd run over all innocent and he'd grab you by the shoulders and almost shake you and tell you...

wait a minute. why was this parkland shooting more gruesome and scary and deadly than other school shootings? the only explanation is the weapon used. if he was using a knife. or a less deadly weapon. the coward couldn't possibly have mowed down so many excited, excitable students.

anyway, your dad would tell you that you better climb up into that batter's box next time and face those pitches like a man. and you could see in his eyes just how badly he wanted to tell that he'd "give you something to be scared of". and so you choked up your fear. tapped your bat on home plate. wondered how your dad's coffee breath got so bad. crouched into your stance. watched the pitcher wind up. and took one straight to the left temple. ... you came out of your concussion on the bleachers in your ma's lap. the drive home was quiet.

that's what we think about when we think about coffee. we have similar memories of beer. more strongly associated, though, with sunday mornings in high school when our grandma would comment on our stench at church.

anyway! we made a nice little coffee beer with our friends from gaslight coffee roasters for the the uppers and downers coffee and beer fest. tomorrow morning! in pilsen! at thalia hall! get your tickets here before they sell out. i know it's virtually there already.

and if you're already going, swing by our stand. we blended our bright-funky-fruity brett beer with a special coffee from the beloya washing station in ethiopia. it's called *YOU WERE TIRED*. and we can hardly stop comparing it to amazing things we've tasted. all in the past, of course.

now you have coffee breath. and, sometimes, beer breath. and it's bad. but you might as well hang around others with the same affliction. and sure: if we banned extra-special deadly weapons like the one used at parkland, such cowardly criminals could still get them on the black market. but would they? query: all these mass murderers use semi-automatic weapons. why don't they use fully-automatic weapons? is it because fully automatic weapons are harder to get, perhaps?
 

 @lucyhewett framed this shot, steadied her hand, and pressed her finger to the camera trigger.

@lucyhewett framed this shot, steadied her hand, and pressed her finger to the camera trigger.

memorable beers.

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he's just a poor boy from a poor family.

remember your first beer? we remember ours. it tasted like green apple and butter and why haven't other school shootings elicited the response we're seeing to the parkland shooting? is it because the kids are white, or wealthy? i doubt it, since those demographics have been in play before oh fucking hell i told myself i wasn't gonna to talk about guns today...

anyway like i said it was apple-y and butter-y and super-aged. but eventually we stopped drinking strohs we stole from neighborhood garages. and started drinking goose. and everything changed from there. then we started brewing our own beers. and got really fancy. and technical. and then we got experimental. but then... we made a beer. finally. it sorta tastes like one of those gross stale beers we used to drink when we were 15. but, y'know, better. 

stay tuned for a #NewBeerNotice. czech your email three fridays from now. or thereabouts. pils and thank you.

middle brow | citizen how \ 16 feb 18 /

don't make me a target.

michael ian black. who you might know from the genius *wet hot american summer* movies. commented yesterday that mass shootings happen because "boys are broken". i happen to agree with a lot of what he said in his twitter storm. but mostly i agree with his comment that "until we fix men, we need to fix the gun problem".

gun crimes are out of control. mass shooting are bad, and traumatic, and memorable. for some, they're unforgettable. but they represent only a small fraction of the gun crimes committed yearly in the US. most gun incidents involve one shooter and one victim. and they happen in a quick moment from a hot temper. whether they escalated from some trivial insult. or in the heat of a dramatic moment. or in self defense. many are even accidental. but one thing is clear: no matter how many *responsible gun owners* are out there, we are not, as a whole, sufficiently responsible for the gun laws that govern us.

and we're certainly very well-equipped for situations like this one! 

take lobbying, for example. for years and years, lobbying was a black box. and many people. even, perhaps, most people. lobbied lawmakers appropriately. but often lobbying turned into full on bribery and resulted in really bad, inefficient policies and wasteful spending.

the problem was not with lobbying per se, though. lobbying is very useful. lawmakers can't possibly be expected to know everything about every bill that comes before them. and lobbyists help lawmakers understand the pros and cons of passage.

but unethical lobbying is clearly problematic. nowadays, we have strict ethical rules related to lobbying. at both the state and federal level. if an individual so much as speaks to a lawmaker about passing a particular law, that individual has to register as a lobbyist. and there are all sorts of disclosure rules associated with such registration and lobbying activity. 

it's true, bribery still happens. and spending isn't perfectly efficient. and good lobbyists now have to spend more time complying with transparency regulations. but the bad behavior has ebbed enormously.

or take painkillers. opioids aren't all bad. they can be used responsibly to assuage all sorts of pain. under doctor supervision. and while most people use them safely and never become addicted, some irresponsible men and women abuse them. 

nevertheless, we have an opioid problem in america. and we're all ready to throw everything we can at it. including writing new laws and regulations that make it harder for irresponsible people to access the drugs.

an easy retort: ha! what a shitty example! you're making our argument for us! we have pages and pages of laws punishing drug possession and use. and it still happens! but the point here is not that stricter drug laws end drug abuse. though it probably reduces it. the point is that, because we've lost too many young lives to drug addiction, we throw everything we can at the problem. that includes earmarking funds for treatment and prevention. and writing strict laws restricting possession and use.

or take speeding. generally speaking, most people are really responsible drivers. when i was 16, though, i drove a full size '87 ford bronco. [aside: i've been dreaming about it ever since it was decommissioned.] anyway, i had to take the highway to get to high school. i-80, in fact. the great open road. filled with semi trailers and gun lovers. (!) and other kids like me driving to school. and shit... we made a ball of it. i can't think of a single day that i didn't see some other car whose driver i knew on the way to school. and immediately, i'd inch up as close as i could to their bumper, while driving 80mph, and wave. and then the race would ensue. [another example, by the way, of how boys are broken.] and we'd hit 100 in seconds. and if i ever thought i was losing ground, i didn't hesitate to pass someone on the shoulder. and i prided myself of having more stones than any other high school race car driver. by waiting until the last possible second to get onto the exit ramp. 

now. can you guess what my driving record was like? i was too irresponsible to drive a car. i shouldn't have had access to one. and i got ticket after ticket. until my license was suspended. and my insurance would no longer cover me. and i had to start over, so to speak.

sure, this is anecdotal. but were there no speed limits, you can bet your ass there'd be a lot more people like me. causing unnecessary accidents. causing unnecessary death. and the cars themselves certainly wouldn't be to blame; the drivers would. but that wouldn't mean that imposing speed limits was pointless.

so very many unoriginal men and women will parrot the infamous NRA response to this point: the problem isn't with the guns or the gun laws. it's with irresponsible gun owners. the problem is the people. and our culture. and they're (partly) right! something about our culture makes us more susceptible to gun violence. but... could it be... our... gun laws?

laws governing the use of an instrument change the behavior of the user of that instrument. naturally. and, moreover, they change the culture around that instrument. they form the perception of it as a tool. not an accessory. or a source of power. or control.

laws are a meaningful part of every culture. and since our culture appears to be rotten, we should consider changing the inputs. 

what does this mean for you? make friends with someone in the NRA. honest. make friends with them. and convince them that their future as a gun hobbyist depends upon stricter gun laws. convince them to pressure the NRA to stop standing in the way of gun research. that this position is so very cucky. that it represents fear by the NRA that we'll all learn how effective gun control is. and that the profitability of the companies that provide so much of their funding would suffer. make it clear to your NRA friend that he or she is just a pawn in a game to make some super-rich executive super-richer.

i wouldn't expect them to take so kindly to such. but, then again, you probably have much more grace than i do.

--

i ended a few memos with the below quote. it seems timely today. 

"[some humans] were well known for their disposition to provide help in emergencies. this disposition went to the heart of their conception of society, as a duty-bound relation between strangers. their charitable behavior was a way of emphasizing that strangers are just as important as friends -- because all of us, in the end, are nobodies. by devoting yourself to the distressed stranger you make it clear that you too are a stranger in this world. you reaffirm the distance between yourself and others, by showing that the motive that binds you to society is one of impartial justice and objective duty. the charitable relief of strangers was simply another aspect of [human] reserve."

robyn.


every now and again.

the wild and wonderful robyn. we packaged it up again this week. on valentine's day, not less. which was perfect. because it's really a beer about marriage. one of the first beers we ever made, and the first beer we released that contained a yeast blend. the marriage of two different brewer's yeasts. and the different styles that go with them. the beer introduces itself to you in two languages. as if from two different countries. and both of the *hellos* were merely interpretations of the traditions of those countries. traditionalists might call them bastardizations. we call them experiments. and evolutions. 

how very american.

the end of february is the perfect time to revisit an old friend. if robyn is such for you, find a can. 

and if you've never had the pleasure of drinking the marriage between two europeans. a sort of gyspy child. take a chance this weekend.
 

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new beer notice \ 16 feb 18 /

*HOW IT STARTS*

we've been telling you for some weeks that we've got some new beers on the way. the unveiling was slow, just like the fermentation process. but the sales have been lickety-splitly! 

let's dig on *HOW IT STARTS* for a quick minute. you know when you were looking for a new apartment. and you went on craigslist and made a bunch of appointments at places that looked really sharp. but the whole time you were doing so, something felt off in the way way back of your head. and then you got to the first one, and it was great! so great! your mom would love it! you inserted the key into the deadbolt and turned it without any effort. and the storm door shut behind you at an almost pensive pace. and the staircase was well lit and the walls were brand new and then the apartment itself was filled with brand new stainless appliances and marble countertops and the shower was separated from the rest of the bathroom by a glass half-wall just in case you ever got a boyfriend and there were USB ports in every outlet between the two plug holes and you smiled your most effortful smile and walked out thinking about how nice it would be just to have a nice apartment for once where the water got hot fast and stayed hot long enough to give you dandruff and the AC was fucking voice-activated. and you had a doorwoman and a dishwasher for your 2 bowls, 1 spoon and 1 saucepan.

but then you got onto your bike to ride to your next appointment. just to see an apartment just like the last one! [scene: chicago's west loop, obv.] it was so clean and nice and sparkling and inodorous and after 12 more of these appointments you couldn't remember a single one and you just wanted to see an apartment with some character. you wanted to get back to something honest. back to the earth. see something real. and wild. and a little offbeat. though, of course, not too offbeat. you were fine with all the new windows, at least. but something funky, you know? and then you found it. up in noble square. and you threw a wad of cash in the agent's face and signed a lease immediately. 

*HOW IT STARTS* tastes exactly like that. when your palate grows tired of tasting formulaic beers. [note here: producer makes formulaic beers, too. no need to bag on such. stress merely the benefit of trying something new.] and you want something a little funky but still beautiful. edgy. something that makes you shift your head backward on your neck really fast and you furrow your brow and concentrate your eyes and move your beer hand slightly further away from your face and turn the can so you can see what's written on the side because who the fuck is this brewery and what the fuck is this beer and holy shit i want another sip just to be sure this isn't wine or some fermented tea and oh yes it's certainly beer but what in the fuck kind of beer is it i better take a sip again boy this shit is fire [aside: character is from gen z]. it's funky. it's earthy. it feels honest. it smells like loud fruit and the sloppy guitar on an early neil young record. and it's light! it's perfect for soif'n!

lime / tropix / twang / happy neil young / wake up from winter and walk on. with a dry beer for your thirsty psyche.

available on tap at lula cafe. in cans at the charleston. and for grab'n and cloth bag'n at capone's, the beer temple, bitter pops, and the whole bunch of killer beer bumble bees around chicagoland. if you don't see it, ask for it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

sold out? already?!

we did some pre-sales of the latest beer in our #sellsout series, *SELLS OUT DEN*. and apparently pre-sold virtually all of them. such that our distributor's shelves are already empty of cans. empty! the beer sold out in about twenty four hours!

now, that doesn't mean that it's no longer available to you! it is! at least for now. ... it's all over chicago. right now. like, tonight! so go straight to the store and buy a 4 pack! because as soon as it sells out at your store, that's the last of it.

and so far everyone agrees: this is the best *SELLS OUT* beer yet. we combined the modern hazy tropicals with classic 90s pine. did you ever think pine could have such an intense fruit nose? pine and pineapple and dank-as-f hop. with so very little of 2013's ipa bitterness. because, as usual, #soft beers from #soft souls. that's our motto.

hanging on: a day in the life \ 9 feb 18 /

i don't think i'm-a gonna be able to type a lot this morning since i sliced up the tip of my middle finger yesterday. 

and last week someone hurled a super-thin complaint my way about the political nature of the faux-modest newsletters i send to you every friday morning in the 8s about. which, frankly, only made me want to make them more political. and, in the long run, just may. but for now, i remembered that when i started these i wanted to use them to punch out a window into the craft beer business as well. for all the folks out there wondering what it's like. and i've done that quite a few times. (see our blog for old rants.) but i might start doing it more regularly.

and so today. as we enter the 11th hour of this drama queen snow storm. in the very quiet of the very morning. mere hours before chaos descends on our friday. as it does every week. i want to tell you how i cut up the tip of my middle finger. 

so i woke up. fell out of bed. but i dragged no comb across my head. or under my face. as their was no time. it was 5a sharp and i had three tasks to complete before getting on the road to pilsen at 610a and they weren't the toughest tasks i ever did no it was mostly just computer stuff but i had to summarize and submit orders to our distributor for pre-sold kegs and cases of our upcoming beer before he started loading up his truck in the 6a hour and then i had clear out emails that i let linger the night before and then i had to put the final touches on labels for two of our upcoming beers as we have to submit those far enough in advance of our brewdate lest we end up facing late fees from leaving beer in some other brewery's tanks for too long which by the way is totally understandable because tanks cost money but such fees can really very quickly devour your entire profit on a beer and when you're trying to donate 50% of your profits to charity every single cent you lose by some quick mistake may provide part of a meal for somebody really hungry or might help get one more coat to somebody freezing under the edens and so we had to get up early this day because we were gonna be occupied all day canning the beer and then on the road to pilsen and this was totally unplanned because we don't have time to look at the weather except for whatever weather is happening around us it started snowing and all these trucks and cars started hugging their brakes and now my plan of picking up our canning volunteer liam in pilsen and bringing him to irving park so my partner bryan could drive him out to our contract brewer was in pieces for in a matter of minutes the drive time from pilsen to irving park went from 25 minutes to 45 minutes and bryan was planning to leave in 20 and every single minute he waited after that would delay canning and cause our other partners and volunteers to be late in getting back to their day jobs and so last minute i decided to drive liam from both beverly and melkbelly (chicago's coolest new band in the way that the grammy for best new artist goes to a new artist) out to our contract brewer in the western suburbs which would take about 70 minutes. we arrived at 745 or so and i did a quick spin around the brewery to make sure everything looked right and everyone there was adequately prepared for the day before hopping back in my car to rush back to the city in heavy traffic for a 9a meeting but it wasn't that simple because my gas meter had read "0 miles" for the last 14 miles and i had 1 hr 20 minutes of stop and go traffic in front of me so despite my likely tardiness i turned left looking for gas but about 1000 feet later i encountered total gridlock i'm talking snowy-car-accident gridlock and there was no gas station in sight so i turned in a u shape and went the other way and seconds later got caught by the slowest damn commuter train you've ever seen but of course i finally made it for gas otherwise i might not have had time for modestly this morning and by the time i was done fueling up my eta for the 9a meeting was 920 and this likely wouldn't have been a big deal but it was a very important meeting with a church down the street whose support for our project we're determined to get but i also had a meeting with the building commissioner at city hall at 10a so there was no real way to make the first meeting happen without missing the second more important meeting so i called the church and explained such but they weren't there so i had to leave a message and then i got fed up with my route so i jumped off 90 and onto irving park road and somehow i gained 20 minutes back! i could make the first meeting after all! so i called them again and this time got through to someone who had heard my message and had already cancelled the meeting but she would call me back if it wasn't too late to turn it back on and so i patiently drove while writing work texts and emails at stoplights and stop signs and then i heard back from her. the meeting was on! ok so i hustled and zigged and zagged through side streets until i landed in front of the neighbor's building at 859a and we had a terrific meeting and became very fast friends and it turns out they do a lot of constructive work in the neighborhood and will make a terrific mentor for future such work that we do at a potential brewpub there and as the clock struck 930 and i knew i had to leave these wonderful new neighbors of ours asked me if they could pray for me and i may not be a praying man but i didn't want to turn down someone else's prayers on my behalf especially since my grandma and ma could use some help on that project and we all bowed our heads and it was very humbling and moving but it did take an extra 6 or 7 minutes in which time i was maybe possibly missing the train i'd need to take to get to city hall in time for this meeting with the building commissioner and so the second i passed the threshold of their door and their sight i sprinted to my car and drove as fast as i could toward the cta and found a free parking spot sort of nearby so i grabbed it and turned my car off and sprinted out of it toward the train entrance and just as i was approaching the long stairs to the rusty b-team entrance across the street from the station i heard the roar of the train and so my sprint was worth it! what timimg! somehow i was gonna pull off the morning without being late to a single meeting! and so i pretended i was a 90s mom in front of a body-by-jake tape and i climbed up those stairs quickly and with perfect form and i got to the top and swiped my CTA card and it was empty. . . . so i ran like charles dickens down the stairs and through traffic to the proper station and tried to put money on the card but the train started pulling away. and then my card wouldn't swipe so i moved to the next ticket machine. and my card would swipe there but i also had insufficient funds in my debit account. so i swiped my credit card next but shit i forgot that card was cancelled due to fraud and i had a new one at home somewhere that i hadn't yet activated so i had to suck it up and get a lyft and by the time he got there i was scheduled to be ten minutes late to this meeting with the building commissioner which importance you can hardly overstate when you're trying to build something in the city but at least i had 15 minutes to breathe before the meeting. then i got a call from our lawyer about a small issue we're resolving and so the breathing would have to wait and go figure the call ended just as i stepped into the city hall elevator and as soon as i reached the 9th floor i saw my architect in the waiting area since it turned out the commissioner was going to be 10 minutes late too. 45 minutes later he arrived and we started and ended the meeting in about 7 minutes but the canners back in the western suburbs (and my partners and our hardworking volunteer liam from melkbelly) were just finishing up as well and i was meant to be back there by the end of the run to grab a couple cases and kegs and organize a shipment to san francisco and most importantly to give liam from melkbelly and beverly a ride home but i still had to hop a cta train from city hall back to my neighborhood to find my car and then drive out to the suburbs in snow and i didn't want to make liam from melkbelly and nicaragua wait all that time so i called him a lyft and bosko the lyft driver came and grabbed him and drove him back to pilsen while i headed out to the western suburbs to do all said tasks and on the way i spoke to a contractor who's advising us on the brewery portion of our buildout and it's amazing how fast time passes when you're on the phone and as soon as i got back to our contract brewery i loaded up my car with a half barrel a sixth barrel and 8 or so cases of our beer and drove back to stella barra pizzeria in lincoln park to drop off the half barrel that they had been requesting for two weeks and we were about to lose the handle but wait! i can't drop off beer without an invoice and i forgot to get one from our distributor so i called him and had him make one up between his drop-offs and he sent it over just as i was pulling up to a fedex near the north ave kennedy exit and i printed it out and drove over to stella barra and made the drop and then went back home and sat at a chair at my kitchen table and it was 1p so thank god jerome mcdonnell's shitty worldview program was no longer in the way on wbez so i flipped on the radio and sat. 

whoa! chaos! and what a fucking ball! running a small business in the age of the internet when everyone expects everything now and everyone can get everything now and so everyone jams up every last minute of their calendar is very different from running a small business in the age of the telephone i tell ya. now, i never ran a small business in the age of the telephone, but my old man did and while he was a very busy man he was simply doing telephone and pencil work constantly and those are both tasks that one can hardly combine with more than one other thing for instance back then you couldn't write emails and work on label art while you were on the telephone between canning runs. and this doesn't mean things are more difficult these days because packed schedules don't make life more difficult they make life more chaotic and more fun. that's all.

and would you like to know more about my day? you know when you ask someone what they do for a living and they say their "an analyst" and you're like yeah well so am i every time i make a fucking decision about how to get from one place to another so what do you actually do tell me about your day well this is partly what it means when someone says "i have a craft beer company" but obviously everyone brewery's experience is different and anyway from 1p when i started listening to wbez until about 10p when my eyes started closing at my computer screen i finished last quarters books and had a call with another different attorney about a totally different thing and then spoke to an old friend who alerted me to some shithead real estate developers in chicago who are looking to take advantage of craft breweries on the northwest side and then i reached out to our *other* canner to confirm that he sent with his canning crew from kalamazoo a couple extra boxes of quad paktechs (those new 6 pack holders that cover the entire tops of cans) that we needed for a canning run later in the week but despite 4 reminder messages leading up to that day he had forgotten to throw those boxes on the truck and that's ok! that shit happens! we're all small businesses operating in a very fast-paced world in a fast-growing industry and we're all sort of in over our heads figuring out how to eek out a living doing what we love to do but now i very sorely lacked the paktechs i needed and the only way i could get them in time for our thursday canning day was to jump in my car and drive to kalamazoo and back and it was 4p and i could conceivably be back by 10p and that wouldn't be such a big deal and so i quickly made up some portable food things since i hadn't really eaten yet and rearranged all the calls that i'd needed to make that evening such that they'd work a bit better on my drive but when she heard my plan my number one woman gave me a verbal whoopin' which woke me up to some other more practical solutions and so i sent a listserv email to the illinois craft brewers guild to see if i could borrow some such paktechs and i got some responses from, like, six of our great brewer friends immediately and so that problem was mostly solved and i took my calls at my kitchen table and then at dinnertime polly and i skipped over to intelligentsia in logan square for a meeting with a new, young family friend who's got some major chops at, er, art and this thing called "visual identity" and we're always looking to evolve and then it was time for dinner but we lacked the energy and the time to cook so i just ate cottage cheese while polly roasted a sweet potato that we salted and snacked on while finishing the bookkeeping before bed. 

the next morning i was up at 5a again to unload my car at our warehouse and fill it back up in anticipation of our second canning effort in as many days and also oh yeah those quad paktechs never really came through because yet again we're all working like mad men and women and people forget things! or have to de-prioritize things! and no big deal! but we had to chase some more of them in the very early morning before leaving to can but despite our best efforts we never tracked them down and then liam of melkbelly and formerly of some second floor in wicker park arrived in logan square by 7a or so and we drove up to a brewery on the north side where we brew others of our beers and just as we were pulling into the parking lot we got a message from our other canner that they were gonna be an hour late and this was problematic because liam from melkbelly and pilsen had to catch a flight to nyc that evening but before he did he had to drive a car filled with our beer back to logan square and then get in his car to head back to pilsen to drive his dog to a sitter for the weekend and then drive back to pilsen to catch the train to midway to catch the plane to new york in the snow that was was due to fall that evening. but we pressed on through the chaos and went to a diner and did some phone work and ate an omelette and then the canners showed up at the brewery but it took them an extra hour to get their equipment through the snow and into the brewery and when they unloaded the cans i noticed that the label printer (separate from the canner, of course) sent the wrong number of labels for each of the two beers we were canning. they sent more of the first beer and less of the second beer when we needed and requested it to be the other way around which was particularly problematic because we were sending cases of one of the beers to seattle and san francisco and we wanted the bulk of the packaged beer to be available in chicago of course and so we had to quickly get folks on the phone from those other states and change their orders a bit and we finally got canning underway around 1045 and finished the first run after 12p but liam from melkbelly had to jet to make his flight and so we filled up the middle brow car that he was driving and sent him back to logan square and word has it when he got there his two front tires were flat but he changed one of them and somehow he got back to pilsen and took care of his dog and made his flight. in the meantime we were doing computer work waiting for the canners to transition from beer 1 to beer 2 and when they finally did around 1p we started canning and it turned out the second beer was gonna to take twice as long to can because the pressure in the tank was lower than expected and we couldn't crank it up without further wrenching things (a small blessing since there were only two of us now) so we worked as fast as the equipment would allow us and finished in the late 3s and hustled out of there to make some deliveries of the all the pre-ordered cases and kegs especially kegs since the beer was due to be tapped *that night*!!!! but we had to work fast since we had a tasting event at binny's from 5-8p which left an hour to make 6 deliveries in rush hour traffic without any hand trucks only our arms and legs and hands and thank god for rob at heartland who took some cases and made some deliveries and covered the first 30 minutes of the event for us. 

chaos! madness! beauty and activity and zen in the hum! pure joy that we're doing work that we love! healthy stress!

anyway, on my last delivery, outside tapster, as i was hurriedly scratching frozen clumps of snow off of our aluminum kegs, i encountered a stickler bit of ice. i scratched and scratched and tore at it with my frozen, raw, numb hands until it ripped away from the keg edge.

and that's how i sliced up the tip of my middle finger yesterday.

i don't think i'm gonna be able to type a lot this morning.

middle brow | citizen how \ 2 feb 18 /

dreamers of all ages. from all places. 

a silly little man named donald trump said a truly fucked up? sad? childish? i don't know the right word to describe it anymore. i think i'll just presume everything he says comes from a really weak, insecure, malleable place. he's more like a high school kid than even paul ryan is. he's like the guy in high school who watched good will hunting and wanted to be smart like will hunting so he went out and bought howard zinn's the people's history of the united states and was the most progressive guy in school. and then he "got really into books" and stumbled onto the fountainhead. and was enamored by individualism. ... the difference is that donald trump doesn't read books. he just watches fox news. and adopts whatever opinion he heard last as if it's a "really good idea that lots of smart people are saying" he had. and so when some shitty congressman appealed to his racist sensibilities on immigration, saying "why the fuck should we take immigrants from places like haiti?" he immediately thought, "he's right! i mean, i'd never sell my name to any hotel built in haiti. or africa for that matter. why would we want people from those countries in our country? gross". 

and then. he called them "shithole countries" out loud. i presume he's never been to a country that lacks a four seasons in which to have a nice golden shower. but the countries he's referring to are not shithole countries. they have roads from town to town. they have cars taking folks down those roads to visit their faraway friends and families. they have gas stations and fruit stands along the way. where folks gather and laugh and stretch their legs. they have town squares with churches that people go to on sundays. or saturdays. or fridays. or any days. they have grocery stores with refrigerated water and juice and milk and oreos. and poorly-designed 16oz energy drinks. in so many ways, they're just like the us. they have people building things. doing lots of construction. running wire through electrical conduit. mixing cement. and just like parts of detroit. or the outskirts of pittsburgh. or chicago. or rural california: they simply have more poverty than new york city does. or, at least, the shitty, boring parts of new york where donald and ivanka trump live.

and so, like a high school kid who lacks the imagination required for empathy. he called them shithole countries. and a boner named rod dreher defended the comment, or at least identified with the comment, in the american conservative magazine. here are some quick excerpts:

"Let’s think about Section 8 housing. If word got out that the government was planning to build a housing project for the poor in your neighborhood, how would you feel about it? Be honest with yourself. Nobody would consider this good news. You wouldn’t consider it good news because you don’t want the destructive culture of the poor imported into your neighborhood. Drive over to the poor part of town, and see what a shithole it is. Do you want the people who turned their neighborhood a shithole to bring the shithole to your street?

No, you don’t. Be honest, you don’t."


holy fucking shit!!!!!! this guy is one of those christians who measures the size of his christianity-dick by his facility with scripture and dogma. obsessed with catholicism and christianity generally because of an upbringing and some insecurity about his place in the world. and he masks it as an appreciation for mysticism and community. it's like if jack white or stephen colbert were more disingenuous and less polymathic.

as for the paragraph above. god damn. it couldn't be more incorrect. at least as far as i'm concerned. if you live in a city like i do, you'd love it if they announced some section 8 housing on your block. the people lucky enough to get section 8 housing often try and fail to do so for years. they're working hard to send their children to school. they sit outside together. and talk together about the weather. and about anything else they can think of. like real neighbors should. they have rich cultural backgrounds. and they're willing to share them with you if you simply say hello and ask them about such. they make a neighborhood vibrant! and diverse!

............ : : : and they make for strong communities. ............ : : : the same communities that will supposedly, bring this country together. the same communities that will help this city (and others like it) fight crime. the sorts of communities that derive from an abundance of good, engaged neighbors. and from the juxtaposition of wealthy folks, middle classics, and people who are born with fewer opportunities and less familial structure. poor folks already know this. they already raise their kids together. wealthy people don't quite know this. they might know how to pay someone to watch their kids or drive their kids around or prepare meals for their kids. but they tend to know much less about communities and community-building. because they simply don't have to know anything about it.

anyhow, enough about that dumb ass paragraph from an extreme pocket-book republican. the bigger questions are: why do those countries have more poverty? more crime? and does that mean we shouldn't embrace immigrants from them?

one of rod the rod's presumptuous questions was: but why are these countries shitholes? and one of the obvious answers is: imperialism. he didn't want to entertain such answers, though, as he made obvious in the "update" to his post. but it's a super good answer!!!!! anyone who's studied developing countries in any depth knows that their modern history is dominated by belgian, dutch, english, american, spanish, french (!), and italian colonialism. you know what colonialism is, right? remember the tea party? taxation without representation? colonialism may bring some development with it. but it does so at the expense of the cultures and power structures and societal organization of the colonized country. one of rod's friends, who thinks he's pretty smart, had this to say: 


"Some countries are shitholes. To claim that this is racist is racist. They are not shitholes because of the color of the populace but because of bad ideas, corrupt governance, false religion, and broken culture. Further, most of the problems in these countries are generated at the top." 


false religion, as opposed to true religion? so i take it he thinks israel is a shithole? and japan? 

bad ideas and corrupt governance? when many of these countries were governed by tribes and/or kings, it's true that governments in the west had begun their transition into enlightenment ideas. but then europe colonized those countries. and exerted their power through clientelism. and installed leaders who often turned into despots. and those leaders only knew how to govern with gifts and grifts.

clearly imperialism and colonialism are major, if not the principal, causes for the current state of much of the developing world. 

and broken culture? the post goes on to say that one of these so-called reasons for shithole status is the insistence of folks in african countries to place their family above all else. that one of the reasons private enterprise isn't really practical is that, if you started a business, your family would show up and *selfishly* demand shit for free. and you'd be required by your culture to give it to them. and so nobody there starts any businesses. query whether this is true or explicative (see italian immigrants to the us). and query whether the frequency of private enterprise correlates perfectly with the depth of a shit hole. ... but i'd call a culture with family at the center of it a strong one. 

as for my last question: should we let people from so-called shithole countries into the us? well, we used to. ireland. italy. poland. germany. and look what those immigrants went and did? they found some more stability here. and they became inventors. and doctors. and teachers. and nurses. and comedians. and this isn't a clever point. many people have made it before. 

but i want to highlight another point that receives far less focus. if folks from the subject countries currently view family as the most important organizational unit in their society. and as such are *selfishly* willing to lie and cheat and steal to help their family get ahead. we should be begging those people to come to the us. think about how productive and community-oriented they would be in a society not ravaged by colonialism. where theft and murder and grift ain't necessary to stay alive. to improve the lot of your family. think about a society where such activity is more easily and consistently punished. and where work is plentiful. where one can simply work, and be rewarded for their work, and make a nice life for their family. they'd work like wild women and men!!! and that's largely what immigrants do! see, it even makes good sense!

and, one last point. there's a particularly monstrous and dangerous argument being made about merit. and about talent. that we should screen for talented people. that we should end immigration focused on family reunification and diversity lotteries because they let too many folks in who aren't talented or skilled. this is particularly myopic and ahistorical at the same time: the untalented and unskilled made america. these are the people who gave their bodies, and sometimes their lives, to afford their children the education and training necessary for talent and skill. the working class. the hungry. the desperate. ... compare that to middle class people from developing countries who got some education and then emigrated to the us for one reason or another. those families do just fine, in general. they're upstanding members of their communities. they have decks! and swimming pools! or maybe doormen! they print important documents at fedex! they know their peapod delivery driver! they have basketball hoops in their driveways! they have driveways! (edit: stevo). thanks to them for coming! how flattering that they chose to come to the us!

but the things that republicans and democrats both believe make america unique are... grit. confidence. openness to experience. adventure. and empathy for strangers. since each and every one of us descend from someone who wasn't afraid of being alone. of being a stranger. and untalented, unskilled, hungry immigrants from impoverished countries have all of the above.

somehow, though, repubicans have a hard time translating this into policy. it's like they just care about tax cuts, or something. that selfishness seems like an echo... but i can't quite tell of what.

this weekend: wake up from winter. and share your beer.

middle brow merch

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it's 6º at 6a.
are you cold as f? you do know that the plurality of body heat you lose escapes your body through your head, right? you should be wearing a winter hat. one with a pom-pom on top of it. because the pom-pom serves a practical purpose: it's meant for peacocking. humans have an innate attraction to hair. it's what keeps us warm! and the pom-pom is meant to mimic a man/woman bun. 

so we're happy to introduce our brand new winter hats! they'll keep your head warm. and in doing so keep your whole body warm. which will be important given how much more attractive you'll be to your sexual partner. or, to put it more mildly, your sleeping partner. 

pick one up at www.middlebrowbeer.com/store. and while you're there, visit our blog. it's a nice wrap up of all these rants. maybe you missed one? gods forbid.
 

stouts at night \ 2 feb 18 /

anything left of amber, right?

we partook in the hop review / few brews stout contest early last month. and ... oh!! we landed right in the middle?! oh, well, you don't say! ... but have you ever had the pleasure of drinking any of the stouts that ranked above us?! they're *all*—i mean, every last one of them—barrel-aged stouts. and they're delicious and complex and when we were driving back from detroit last weekend and our engine started hacking and dry heaving and our spare canister of motor oil dripped its last drop we cracked one of them there barrel-aged stouts and fed it all viscous and vapory to our motor and we made it all the way home in time for the chicago cardinals game.

barrel-aged stouts! delicious, but sort of in a league of their own. and so, if you remove the barrel-aged stouts from the contest, our modest but still imperial milk stout was *the single highest rated stout* in the bunch. much like our president, we ain't above reinterpreting contest results and eating non-toxic big macs to make ourselves feel better. 

but in all earnesty. congratulations to all the stouts all around us on that list. we've had nearly every single one of them. and we'd consider ourselves lucky to drink any one of them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. or, even, right before bed.

as for ours: the milk-eyed mender. a 10.3% milk stout. with dark and fruity peppers. and cinnamon-laced chocolate. and soft-glowing vanilla. and tangy orange peel. ... we only make it once a year. and it's on still shelves at a few select places. in the city. so grab it before it's gone. 

new beer notice \ 2 feb 18 /

*SELLS OUT DEN* | *HOW IT STARTS*

during the short january sleep we're all just now waking up from, we brewed several beers. two of which are new.

the first is the latest in our sells out series: *SELLS OUT DEN*. it's mobbed-up with denali, amarillo and citra hops. the pineapple and greater tropical notes are nose-shattering on this one. as always, we invited our yeast blend to the picnic. some fruit, some twang, some classic IPA. and, despite all the tropicalia, with each sip i see the color green. what better color in the dead of winter?

it's a fun one. more on locations next week, but we'll be dropping a keg at small bar chicago this coming thurs. right after we finish packaging it.

the second hibernation-killer is *HOW IT STARTS*. it's a little preview of the kind of beer we'd brew quite frequently if we had a brewpub. say, in logan square. 100% fermented with a fruity brettanomyces blend. hopped with motuekas from new zealand, so lemon/lime, mint and tropical fruit provide background rhythm to the soft, funky dynamic of the frontwoman—the yeast blend. stay tuned. deliveries late next week.

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new beer notice \ 29 dec 18 /

spicy minty mender

i hate to be redundant. but shit. that clashes with the entire concept of marketing. which thrives on redundancy. which requires redundancy. ... to wit: we have to tell you 4 times about the same beer, and highlight it on the menu, and tell the bartender to point to our beer when she hands the menu to you. and even then, your tired throat will ask her if she has any middle brow. srsly: some close friends and family still ask us the name of our brewery! and it ain't their fault! they're just humans-walking-breathing-sexting-vaping-being. and humans being don't have no time to remember non-essential shit like the name of their brother's brewery. so i've swallowed my bride. and i get heavy-redundant all over this rough-draft work. this blog. this 5am, automatic eye shadow. ... marketing is redundancy. and so a lot of this letter is redundant. sorry. am sorry.

which is all to say: go to links taproom tonight and this weekend. y'dig? cuz after i finish writing this morning, i'm gonna deliver them a cask filled with candy canes dissolved in *THE MILK-EYED MENDER*. a little christmas nod to the chicago stand-by, goose island. our very own brewery-that-started it all. 

as i've said before: it's a milk stout. with guajillo, pasilla and morita peppers. and a mountain of cacao. and the wisp-iest, ubiquitous-iest, indonesian-iest cinnamon. and some real vanilla beans, scraped of their caviar. and a malleable bag or two of sweet orange peel. AND PEPPERMINT! pouring from a cask. at links taproom. tonight and next week and until it's dry, really. call ahead to make sure it's on tap, if you're driving from far away. and be safe.