middle brow: citizen how

the cowardly new york times.

i haven't been political in a little while. apart from one or two (todd)snide(r) remarks about the president being a totally amoral, irredeemable dipshit. so i figured i better get back into it this week. especially after such a political week at the brewpub! ... we were very lucky to have had presidential candidate pete buttigieg in the space, raising funds for his dark horse (as they say?) candidacy. but i don't know what dark horses have to do with anything. let's just call it an unlikely bid for the presidency. 

so here's my takeaway: democrats are still democrats. democrats are still gonna cower in fear. they're still gonna let you down. they're never gonna get the courage of the conviction that their voters have. and why is that? well, a couple reasons. first, the entire world is organized so as to disappoint the democratic voting bloc. political power still derives most frequently from money. and people with money usually want to keep it, and acquire still more. and the policies supported by the vast majority of dems would make that difficult. and second, the media is part of that world. so there's nobody to give voice. to give song. to give scream-song. to ride down a hill in the bay no-handed on a bike, scream-singing a singalong song, controlling every inch of movement from side to side, front to back. to give voice to those policies supported by the democratic voting bloc.

in a way, i feel bad for the dem leadership: republicans have tricked their base into ignoring their own economic interests and voting around social and cultural issues (most of which republican pols do nothing about once in office). whereas the dem base comes back to economics time and again. and demands actions by dem pols that make it hard for dem pols to raise money for their reelection bids. like, republican voters demand state action on guns and god. and republican pols gladly give it to them! or pay enough lip service to satisfy their voters. and then they do what they want on economics: that is, they satisfy their rich base. they pretend to believe in free markets in order to justify deregulation and tax cuts.

whereas dem voters demand action on the green new deal, for example. or medicare-for-all. and they get all hot and bothered. and dem pols can't even pay lip service to this without risking their own jobs. because the wealthy most certainly *do not*, as a class, support such policies. even the most apparently liberal tv aunts and movie car salesmen among them.

i guess this is only half-true. dem voters are just as focused on social and cultural issues as pub voters. i think instead the *thing* is the narrative. something i wrote extensively about after the shithead was elected: republicans have constructed this perfect narrative about freedom. that single word has come to define their party. and it's bullshit. we know they don't care about freedom. the list of freedoms above, to say some. they care about the freedom to own guns. and to hurt your fellow woman if it means that you gain a tic. those are the two freedoms they'll protect to death. but that's enough! that's enough to define the entire republican project! they've crafted an impenetrable narrative. it's so easy: republicans believe in freedom, so they'll save your guns and they'll keep the government out of your pockets. they've put together a voting bloc whose only interest in economic policy revolves around the freedom to make money without the government touching it. so, there really ain't any positions that their voting bloc wants them to adopt but that their donor base despises. 

that consistency between messaging and the derivation of political power is something democrats haven't figured out quite yet. or maybe they had once upon a time, but they've lost their way since the mid 70s. who knows... they might be able to throw something together if they picked back up the torch of the "little guy". people love the little guy. and the little guy, in numbers, is so much more powerful than the big guy. and little guy policies are easy to understand.

anyway... back to the question of why dems are so disappointing. as i said, first, the world is organized against policies that dems support: in short, in a democracy like ours, politicians can't win reelection without kissing really rich asses. and rich people don't like expensive policies. and second, the media is part of this structure.

dig it: a new iowa poll came out. commissioned by the des moines register. you may have heard about it. specifically, that the frontrunners in the democratic presidential primary are joe biden and bernie sanders. or, at least, if you watch cnn or read the new york times you would have heard that.

but the poll discovered something *way more interesting* than that horserace nonsense: 91% of dem voters in iowa support the green new deal. 84% support medicare-for-all. that's voters in iowa, certainly not the most liberal dem voters in the nation. 

can you imagine republican voters supporting policies in such proportions and republican pols ignoring them? nancy pelosi won't allow either policy any floor time in the house. and all you hear from dems is "but how do we get their practically?" presidential candidate pete buttigieg was very nice. and very earnest. but when he spoke about healthcare, he said "we have to work toward medicare-for-all!" see what he did there? "work toward". and his plan for working toward medicare for all is to make it some sort of public option on the super classy and functional healthcare exchanges that developed as part of obamacare. and if such a plan affords satisfactory, efficient healthcare to the folks who choose it, we can expand it. or shit, it might expand naturally. 

but there we are again! a half measure! fear! of a policy supported by 84% of iowa dems! in a race in which only dems are voting! ... we negotiate with ourselves before the other side even enters the fray. obama taught us so well.

to be clear: i liked mayor pete a lot. he was articulate. he was earnest. he knew that we had just opened our joint. and he congratulated me and our team. and asked how we were holding up. that's super good politics. the guy is a natural. ... and also: i'd tend to support a public option personally. his route seems totally sensible. the point here is that even a dark horse candidate with nothing to lose isn't grabbing onto these extremely popular policies, and there's a reason: doing so would jeopardize his capacity to raise money for the rest of his political career. (to say nothing of the fact that he represents a very right-wing state. which actually proves that he's got a lot more courage than some more prominent dems like boring uncle joe biden.) i can very much relate to mayor pete's struggle. and don't envy it. but that's the problem i'm talking about: most dems are still grappling with an inconsistency between their best narrative and the derivation of their political power. (granted, this ain't true of sanders, but i'm not sure bernie is old enough yet. is someone as young as bernie even allowed to run?)

and then the media: did any of you hear about that part of this poll? did the new york times even mention it? at the very end of their article about biden and sanders and the fucking horserace, they mentioned that the green new deal and medicare-for-all had *widespread support*. talk about burying the lede. liberal media bias my ass. there's no way progressive policies have any shot whatsoever if the supposed paper of record can't even find the courage to discuss them. (we can hate the new york times, too!)

anyway. end of day: support the little guy. the stranger. no matter what the media says. no matter what your favorite politician says. eventually, i have faith, the little guys will unite and express their power. in the form of one man or one woman. and maybe the dems will be there to take the lead. maybe the greens will. maybe the republicans will. who knows? who cares? 

but you can never go wrong if you keep fighting for the forgotten little guys and gals.

two lifetimes

one for each of us.

here's a picture of my grandma. geraldine rock. gerry, as polly weirdly calls her. grandma rock, as virtually everyone else whose ever met her calls her. no matter any official family tie. have you ever seen her irish sweater? it's more a sweatshirt. and has 40 or so green hand-shapes on it. one for each grandkid and great-grandkid. she has 95 years. that's a wild lifetime. and then, i've loved her deeply for all 37ish of my years. that's another lifetime. life is short. life is long. life is pretty good.

madame george.

a manly ballerina.

this might be my favorite full album of all time. right now, at least, it's between that and the modern lovers debut record. the story of it is pretty special. it's kind of a record that just *happened*. by a guy who made nothing buy annoying music before and after it. anyway, give it a shot. not today. certainly not today. but sunday morning. as you emerge from bed. and start to make coffee or eggs. or read the internet. or as you're drifting in and out of hangover sleep. and you'll get it.

middle brow missions

saint how?

i mean, st. patrick's day. that's the... *the*... *THE* chicago event this weekend. we don't care what you and your hyp-set friends say about it. we grew up on the south side. in the south suburbs. and we have tons of happy irish memories. of killer irish sweaters. or corned beef and mustard and dry rye bread. of gross soggy-soft carrots and potatoes that've been cooked for 14 hours. and fiddles. we love a good brogue. but we hate the knee-jerk hatred of st patrick's day in our beloved neighborhood of logan square. ... it's that knee-jerk hatred that reinforces the terrible perception of american-irish people as drunks *just as much* as the idiot 15-25yo american-irish drunks do. 

irish culture is fun! below average food! monotonous music! fucking unmatched storytelling! read pillowman by martin mcdonagh and you'll hear me. he's the same cat who wrote three billboards. which was admittedly average. but the fucking irish! terrific storytelling drunks they are!

it all reminds me of the american flag. i used to sorta hate it. and all that new-country music that ain't got any soul or honesty in it. and the blind faith in country they both represent. but my beautiful, brilliant, boss and first and current wife, polly, told me about how we had to take that flag and make it ours. make it represent fairness and equality of opportunity. and *our* kind of freedom. the freedom to feel safe in school. the freedom to get sick once or twice a year. the freedom to breathe clean air and drink clean water and have and care for a new baby. *not* the freedom to own a gun without restriction. or the freedom to make a billion dollars no matter who gets hurt. those are certain kinds of freedoms. but weird ones to take tons of pride in.

anyway. we'll be making a marble rye for st patrick's day. we'll only have a few available for sale sunday morning. come get it before your house party starts. get as drunk as you want. just don't get hurt or sick. and please don't pretend it's an irish tradition to be a fuckface. the food. the music. the storytelling. that's the irish part. the drinking: that's just the idiot college boy or girl in you. the thing that you're perfectly justified in being ashamed of. ha!

MARBLE RYE FOR SALE AT BUNGALOW BY MIDDLE BROW THIS SUNDAY.

new beer notice

*MINER LIT*

remember that heavy smoker i told y'all about last week. his name is bryan grohnke. he's my partner in this charade. this house of cards we've built. (do we even know anything about beer? or antitrust policy? or anything else?) but he's also our brewmaster. he's brewed good beer after good beer after one or two bad beers after one or two accidentally good beers in the first year. ha! but shit. he's been on a downright roll. knocking out beer after beer for like two years now. really helping us nail an identity. 

anyway. we brewed our first beer a few weeks back. with the help of our manufacturer. see, you can brew all you want on equipment x, y or z. but then you get to equipment Ω, and it's a totally different lizard. and so our nice and sharp and way brill brewhouse builders came out and brewed our first beer with us. i mean, they stood there and got a little buzz on and made sure we didn't light the joint on fire while bryan brewed. and now. here we are. three weeks later. with a full bright tank. of a lithuanian grisette called *MINER LIT*. and holy f. 

holy f palz.

this beer is wild. it's super us. it's the best beer we could ever have brewed as our first brewpub beer ever. it tastes like someone dragged a sweet lime through a spent pile of potting soil. like when you first discovered the ground smelled good. and wait! was that the lightest hint of grain? of wheat? or a tang or a chaff or a field?! you might spot it just there. just at the end of the moment. and you'll taste the sight of grasses blowing through a middle-illinois breeze.

(and real quick: *SABRO CRUSH* is still fresh as f. but the cotton candy mari-juana has evolved to a little grassy coconut. it's so weirdly cool. come taste it as it moves!)

digress, please. please pete.

anyway, it's our FIRST BREWPUB BEER EVER. it's light. it's on tap tonight. at 5p. so come drink a bunch of short pours. 

fresh fridays! at bungalow by middle brow!

bryan.

bryan.

i walked quickly down armitage toward richmond, and before i turned left around a tight brick building, i shouted "corner!". part ii.

i've really wanted to get back into our "how to restaurant" discussion. but haven't had the time to really sit down with all my thoughts. i think what it comes down to is mooches and trade policy. like most other things in my head.

so we had a customer come in the other day and tip $3 on a $40 charge. which is absolutely fucking shameful. and if they're reading it, i want them to know that i'd rather them never come in again than come in again and tip that way. and, frankly, anyone else who tips like that should follow suit. and here's why:

the government has made a decision. their decision is that servers (and various other folks in the service industries) will rely on tips to make a living wage. they're so sure of this decision that they've allowed servers to make a $2.13/hr. yes... they settled on 13 cents as the cents. and anyway. does anyone with any brains aged over 11 think that's a wage that one could afford rent on?

no. 

but the government knows that they make lots of money in tips! and that's why they allow employers to pay tipped employees a smaller minimum per hour than the rest of working men and women.

so what's this all mean? i reckon it means this: servers need to be able to earn a living wage. otherwise restaurants wouldn't exist. and dumb ass shit like the alinea-cat cora feud wouldn't be there to entertain us. (wtf? why should any of us care about this? re-fucking-prioritize. stat. i digress. oh wait. also stop pretending like hospitality workers deserve better treatment at restaurants than our working and middle class friends and neighbors. again, i digress.) 

but servers can only learn a iving wage if (1) tips are effectively set in stone or (2) menu prices are much higher so owners can pay their staff more.

let's take (2) 1st: raising prices. if you read our newsletter a few weeks back, you'd've seen that we charge a 3% service fee on every bill. we do this to help pay the kitchen staff a bit more during busy hours. to wit: this money accrues to the back of house at all times, but when we're really busy, and the front of house (servers, bartenders, runners)  makes a lot more money in big tips, back of house doesn't because they're only making an hourly wage and it's illegal for us to add them to the tip pool.

i only bring this up again to give you some context. we've had a few (two?) complaints from people about this upcharge. and a few nice, well-mannered questions about it as well. and in most cases, the complainant-questioneer says "why don't you just pay your staff more?" and i gather, as an outsider, that that's the easiest response to this whole thing. this whole drama 'bout pay disparity 'tween back and front of house restaurant worker pay.

and the answer is: that's a terrible idea! and here's why...

1) the existential problem: if we paid them more without raising prices in a big way, we'd go out of business. 

2) the first-mover problem: if we raised our *menu prices* to make up for the increase in pay, then we'd have the highest pizza and beer prices in town. and customers would flock on away from us. in droves. and quickly. and we'd go out of business.

3) unless we banned tipping outright, this wouldn't solve the issue: customers would still tiddy-dip the front-of-house staff, and on busy nights they'd make way more money than the kitchen. who'd be working just as hard (if not harder). so, can we ban tipping outright? we can! but we'd lose some of the best damn servers in town. who we've been lucky enough to convince to come work for us.

quick aside: our heroes over at honey butter fried chicken have found a model that allows them to ban tipping and raise prices just a bit. we really do look up to them, and aspire to that. but with our current model, that'd be impossible. in the meantime, though, we buy their delicious chicken and sides constantly. and you should too.

.....

so, if we can't raise menu prices without effectively shutting down, what's the alternative to our tipped staff making a wage that's higher than $2.13/hr? tips!

and this is where customers come in. for years, i've heard my friends and family debate whether they should leave 15% or 18% or 20%. and let me tell you why 20% is absolutely necessary. why you should be ashamed of leaving any less.

can i number my ideas again?

1) THE GOVERNMENT PRESUMES THAT YOU'RE DOING THIS! that's why they allow for such a tiny tipped-minimum wage. the stodgy, shitty government. old as fuck. super slow-moving. boring fashion. bad writing government. even they presume that you're tipping your servers well.

2) it's totally customary in this day and age to leave 20%. the vast, vast majority of customers who've come in so far have left 20%, or even a little more. and that's on top of the 3% hospitality fee we charge. it's not on the subtotal. (how bizarre, to get a little pep from the thought that "you don't have to tip on tax". that's wrong. that's way less than customary. most people tip on the full bill.)

3) and what effect do the government's presumption and the general market custom have? they make you responsible for tipping 20%! (or, at least, 18%.) here's the issue... if the government presumes that you're tipping your servers well, and the majority of your friends and family are tipping servers 20%, and you're doing something petty like tipping 15% or something cruel like tipping 8%, then your friends and family are subsidizing your meal. next time you see your best friend, thank her for the nice meal you had at furious spoon the other night! no joke... everyone else is tipping 20%. they're all making it possible for a tiny handful of others to tip poorly.

4) but what if you just can't afford a 20% tip? that's bull shit. d'you get to drive a subaru outback if you can't afford it? if you can't afford the real price of going out to eat—if you can't afford to tip 20%—then you should stay in and cook more. or you should go to chipotle. or simply have a beer or soda when you go out. or you should tell your friends "can we go sutch so i can afford to tip the server properly?" and they'll say *hell yes* if they're anyone worth befriending. (side note: if you're out with a friend who's got a little less than you, you should be the one to offer to go dutch. going rutch makes it possible for that friend to join you at that resto table, which is really all you care about anyway. and if, somehow, the moment gets away from you and suddenly your less-wealthy friend is on a check-split, presume that they'll go a little light on the tip, and make up for it with a little heavier tip.)

5) another point: if you're out with a friend who's flush w cash but a little cheap and you know it, don't hide your tip by folding your receipt over. instead, push it to the center and show everyone your generous tip. you ain't rich cuz you left $1.53 more than your cheap friend who took out her calculator. and you ain't bragging by showing her. she should be shamed into rounding up! her servers are working hard!

6) another point: when you go into less-wealthy neighborhoods and eat at killer ethnic spots, you should really blow it out for the servers there. they work hard as f. and don't get nearly as many wildly generous tips. (hat tip here to my cuz michael hilger.)

7) another point: tipping isn't about quality of service. or, sure, you can tip way more than 20% if you get killer service or treatment. but you shouldn't tip less than 20ish% unless your service is egregiously bad. and here's why that: serving is waaayyy more difficult than it seems. think about it this way, if you sell insurance for a living. how many times a day do you include a typo in your email? or forget to attach a document? how many times a week are you late? how many times a day do you ask your superior a question that you could have easily found the answer to yourself? how many straight up misses do you commit in every power pointless you make? 

do you get paid less every time something goes wrong in your job? or is your basic humanity respected? is it understood that you're a human, and you'll miss things sometimes, and make small mistakes sometimes, and misdescribe a situation sometimes?

don't misunderstand me: serving is a servers *job*. you can't complain that your job is hard. it's just that customers often think serving is easy work. and it ain't. i've worked as a lawyer. an entry-level engineer. a teacher. an oyster farmer. a laborer. and a few other things. and bartending/serving is way more stressful-in-the-moment than any of those. and it takes just as much talent and attention to detail to be a truly terrific server as it takes to be a terrific lawyer. ... laws and codes and shit: that's easy to master. i'm dead serious. but human and group behavior? it's still a fucking mystery to neil degrasse tyson or whatever other famous scientist is about be outed as a serial sexual assaulter. it's way tough for a server to find a way to connect to each and every table, all while rushing through an order and committing things to memory and writing a bunch of shit down and carrying 40 things and cleaning up your spilt beer and asking me to turn the music down for you and then tooting a little bit when they bend over to pick up a fork and hurriedly running away from it cuz who wants to be the server who causes a rank odor in a place where people are eating?

.....

so let's go back to *menu prices*. why did i star it all fancy like up there? because we all know that menu prices are bull shit. when someone says "why don't you just raise your prices?", they're being super disingenuous. restaurant prices are, in truth, *menu prices + tax + tip*. and that's really the crux to all this: the cost of running a restaurant includes labor. and, rather than being borne by customers in the form of higher menu prices,  labor cost is borne by customers in the form of tips. only the government could change this (see first-mover problem above). but the bigger point is you're already paying higher prices. it's just, for some reason, people are more comfortable with the perception (deception?) of lower prices on a menu. even though they shell out 20% every time. 

and one last thing on this "why don't you pay your employees more?" comment: we opened our doors a little over a month ago and already our salaried staff has health insurance. we've hosted *FREE BREAKFAST* once, and are hosting another *FREE BREAKFAST* march 23d. we're building a work training program. we've given away almost $25K in our first 5 years of business to local social justice orgs. (virtually all of our profits.) if it were as simple as charging higher prices and paying our employees better, we'd certainly d be doing just that. but it's more complicated. it's about making sure we get and retain customers. so that our employees HAVE A JOB. 

one last, important point: if you come into our place and simply need a nice place to breathe for awhile, we welcome you with large, open arms. if you can't afford to tip all that much, tell us. i'll gladly lower your base price so that you can tip our servers 20% and still pay no more than the menu price. we aim to take real good care of everyone who walks in the door. ... it's just people who can afford to tip just fine but refuse to do so. those are the people who aren't doing life quite right.

.....

if you're reading this and are a touch offended by it, please feel free to come in for a calm, collected chat in person. i love talking about this stuff. and i'm always very happy to reconsider any of my opinions if you have better, more thoughtful ones. but also know that i don't think bad tippers are unethical people. i just think they're committing a single unethical act, likely because they haven't had time to put much thought into it.

but if you're a serially bad tipper on purpose. and you read this. and it upsets you. and you refuse ever to change. and, as such, ever to come back to our brewpub, then i do have to say: it's better for us to be rid. we're not the right brewery, bakery or pizza place for you.

.....

but this restaurant life is exquisitely grand. we're lucky everyday. and so... we implore you.

no / division

no / division

two days

brew night!

we brewed! our second beer! well... bryan. our partner and brewmaster. brewed. ... i mostly sprayed water on the floor. i wetted so many fucking corners of that floor. you've  never seen a wetter floor. i also used my brut strength and low center of gravity to lift some garbage cans full of wet spent grain into our grain dumpster. ... want to know more about me? the only real human pic we have of the moment is of me, proud in my celine dion t. the other pic was of an inch of bryan's body, the rest covered up by a sack of rice hulls.

but bryan man. the guy has our equipment licked up. (see a pic of him after smoking 40 cigarettes in the 70s.) after a single session moving slowly through it, he's truly the master of the brew. and we're ready to mob through some shit... in fact, we're cooking up water for a brew that's meant to start in about 28 min. 

we've got one beer in the tanks (a lithuanian grisette). another beer in the tanks (a brut ipa). and a beer on the list for later (a WTF pub beer).

we'll start serving them from our serving vessels later this month. so please stay tuned to our social media shit for more speed.
 

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middle brow missions

stout fest!

stout fest is this weekend! hey... look... we ain't in high school no more. metallica sold out, sure. but a lot of other people did shit for money. and we still like their product. and listened to their records. and etc. ... like, jack white's a raging, insecure crybaby. but we like his tunes. and james murphy pretended he was cooler than money. and then pretended it was cool not to be cooler than money. but, again, we still like his tunes. 

and goose island is owned by a big old beast. ... we hate the concentration of wealth. and we think big beer should be broken up. but a lot of really talented, nice, cool folks make and do great things at goose island. and we ain't in high school no more. like is complex. we all contain multitudes. 

and stout fest is this weekend! we're spiking our imperial spiced milk stout, the milk-eyed mender, with some delicious flayv. maybe maple? maybe hazelnut? maybe neither i guess? stay tuned. 

maple hazelnut-maybe milk-eyed mender at stout fest 2019.

- - -

this past monday, we supported comfort station in logan square at the lula cafe logan square chefs dinner. it was our third year in a row supporting our pals w some beer. and every year we count ourselves more lucky for the chance. the dinner is hosted by jason and his big, beautifully edgy family at lula. we also feel at home there. shit... since 2001 we've thought of it as some kind of offsite living or dining room. 

in addition to some wild lula dishes, we were tickled to try things by ethan from the recently lauded cellar door provisions, joe from daises, and leonard from arbor. and an eye-twitchingly good cocktail by stephanie from billy sunday.

don't miss it next year.

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new beer notice

*SABRO CRUSH*

remember when they used to sprinkle marijuana dust all over your cotton candy at the carnival? you'd take a lick-bite of that pink fluffy shit and get some way-depth. like, the most complex candy you ever had. all subtly bitter and earthy and grassy on the front. and then sweet with fake-candy so-all all-over the mid-palate. and then more grass on the back. and you'd get really mellow waiting in line for the zipper. before hyping back up from natty lights and getting into a town-v-town brawl in the corn dog tent.

or else, remember when you used to get blue-raspberry icee's from the cookie factory at the orland square mall? and you'd suck the shit out of it. get a headache. sit down in front of the chlorinated waterfall. for a quick take 7. and then you'd walk back and forth a few more times. and into and out of spencer's gifts. and your slushie'd be goin' down so smooth now. all blue raspy.

KNOW THOSE JOYS AND KNOW *SABRO CRUSH*. our brand new crusher. hopped w the only hop yet discovered in the american wild: sabro. neomexicanus cotton candy-grass hop. growing all alone there. in the mountains of new mexico. for a million years. just spicin' up lizard carnivals. and prairie dog malls. additional thoughts: watermelon. blue raspy. just funkin' candy town. 

we also threw in some idaho gems and aussie ella hops. both of which might add some certain something. tbd. TBD.

we packaged this beers weds. tapped it that night. and it's running through our lines RIGHT NOW. come get it here. at bungalow by middle brow. before you get it elsewhere. (we are indeed sending a few kegs and cases around town.)

fresh fridays! at bungalow by middle brow!

label photo by @michael_albert_music_group. that's michael hilger of chicago.

label photo by @michael_albert_music_group. that's michael hilger of chicago.

* free breakfast*

for CPS students and their families

breweries are natural forces of gentrification; there's nothing they can really do to avoid it. we've spent the last decade-and-a-half living and hanging in and around logan square and humboldt park, watching the demographics slowly shift in one direction. once the 606 officially landed, we decided we had to open in the logan-humboldt (humbogan?) borderlands. we could be different, we thought. we could be a brewery that accepted its fate as a gentrifying force, while constantly countering that force with our own programming. 

since we launched our brewery in 2012, we've donated over 50% of our profits to local social-justice organizations. and in our new space on armitage, we'll be hosting *FREE BREAKFAST* for CPS students on the weekends. we'll also be instituting a work-training program in several months, which will provide employment and on-site social work to men and women from at-risk populations on the west side.

through programs like these, we aim to serve our entire neighborhood, and to soften the blow dealt to some of our would-be neighbors by unjust municipal tax policy and other unfortunate drivers of gentrification. we believe that we couldn't have picked a better community to join.

but, for now, back to *FREE BREAKFAST* ... we're hosting the first one THIS SATURDAY! that's TOMORROW, if you're keeping track of days. as we used to do. so: if you know a CPS kid who tends to get a little hungrier on the weekends, please send them our way. hell, even offer to pick them up and drive them here! or, better yet, tell their adult family members about the breakfast; we're happy to serve them some hearty, delicious food, too. same story for their brothers and sisters.

and what do you do if you have the means to afford three square meals every day of the week? come in between 9a-11a and buy some of our delicious toast! we'll give you the option of adding $1 to your check-bill to help feed food-insecure famblies in the neighborhood.
 

imagine this. but with a frittata. and simple butter. visciously cool photo by alexa viscius.

imagine this. but with a frittata. and simple butter. visciously cool photo by alexa viscius.

new beer notice

*CHECK THE CHARTS*

this beer here's been out for a bit. but we released it during the chaos of our openih nup. it's got that what-the-fuh to it. like, in a big way. it's like when you're a kid and you first discover smells. like, everything smells good. even questionable things. even bad things. and you want to share every smell with someone else.

this gal's a serious "here, smell this" beer. your nose keeps your head turnt downward. like unripe strawberry. or like grocery bag paper after it's been soaked in something unidentifiable but the only fresh things you bought were berries and an ancient-grain salad. or like kiwi skin that was separated from its flesh 12 or 13 minutes ago.

but "here, smell this" is really the best way to describe this beer. and other similar beers. it's a smell and taste you're not sure you like. so you keep drinking it. in the meantime, you're totally refreshed. and maybe after two you're a little buzzed. and your buddy who only likes lagers decides for his third beer that "i'll have that". and then he orders another one for his fourth. (but please only drink four beers if you're still cool after four. or cooler. by no means do this is if you get a bit hotter and lamer after four beers. instead switch to kombucha or go get a fucking massage or something. that's the right way to restaurant.)

anyway, not like you asked, but some of you might be thinking: what's this beer made of? well, barley for one. but also spelt. which adds a nice fun earth-tone or twang or why (that's short for what have you). we hopped it with bru-1 and comet. which just means: a little citra. and little stone fruit. but really, how many times are we gonna repeat the same hop characteristics?

so come in! and smell this!

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how to restaurant

restaurants are little microcosms of the world. or, at least, the socio-psycho-economic universe. every sort of personality graces the production side and the purchase side alike. so knowing "how" to "restaurant" is really knowing how to live. we've got a few tips below. 

let's start with a few misconceptions / secrets.

first: sitting for a long time is bad... it's not bad! it's fine! keep ordering stuff with some regularity. and, of course, be super nice to your server. you'll be beloved. because on busy nights, every server needs a table or two that are easy. one or two that don't need much checking on. cuz that's one or two fewer tables they have to breakdown and set up all night.that said, do notice if your server has several of these tables. cuz in that case, it's probably screwing them. unless they're working in a pooled house. (which simply means all the servers and bar staff are pooling tips. fwiw, bungalow by middle brow is a pooled house.) ... and in all cases, tip them a little extra for the extra time you took at the table. it's basic math, really. 

second, showing up with a big party on a busy weekend night is bad... it's not bad! it's great! again, just tip well. and expect to wait a little bit. and PRESUME that a few things at the table will be wrong. even some of the best servers and kitchens among us screw up 10% of the time. it's a very fast-paced, high-stress environment. so a table of 10 will be guaranteed at least one error. or dropped pizza. or foamy beer. and please, please, please: do your very best to order lots of things at once. it's very tough to be a good server if every time you go back to a table they have one small additional request. that sort of behavior will likely make the server bad at serving other tables, too. which has a negative ripple effect. it'll ruin their whole night, and likely their budget!

third, that table is open... it may be! your host has so many considerations to weigh. which was most recently "sat". and how many tables were just freshly sat (because the kitchen will get overwhelmed and then make bad food if too many are sat at once). so don't presume open tables mean open tables.

fourth, there's a conspiracy to cheat you of your food... there's not! the order at which dishes hit the floor has a certain logic. sometimes your food will come out after some other tables because the kitchen is trying to send all of your stuff together, and one of the dishes your table ordered takes longer to make well. sometimes there was a mistake so your order was held back and it made more sense to send another table's food first. be patient. have a beer. or another lemo. nobody's perfect. and nobody's out to get you. unless you're an asshole. and everyone is always out to get you. then they probably are actually out to get you. because you're an asshole. and you should work on your personality.

fifth, bartenders are incompetent... they're not! when you're waiting to get served at a bar, staring angrily at the bartender won't make her serve you well. it'll just make her serve you quickly. to get you out of the way. most good bartenders are creating a line in their head. they'll get to you. and you'll get a great drink. and have a very positive experience. just have some patience. 

--

moving on very quickly to one last thing: there's a massive injustice in every restaurant into which you walk. and it's in the kitchen. cooks get paid similarly to FOH staff (servers, bartenders, hosts) on most nights. but not on the big nights. when they work hardest. and that's why you're increasingly seeing service charges added to checks. and those charges are way justified. the short story is: if you were willing to pay higher menu prices for your restaurant experience, this wouldn't be an issue. everyone would be paid more. and tipping could be eliminated. but since you're not willing to handle higher menu prices, the kitchen/service inequity is a major issue. 

we recently added a 3% kitchen support charge to our bill. and we'll fight to the death for its justification. ... next week. we'll also discuss tipping at great length next week. so if you have thoughts on that. or are simply interested in what we have to say on it. please tune in then.

until then... remember that your server is a human being. with strengths and weaknesses. and good moments and bad moments. treat him or her like they're your best friend or brother or sister. or else... don't eat/drink out? or maybe just don't eat/drink out at bungalow by middle brow. cuz we prefer humans who know they're humans.

a recipe.

crush 2.5 sleeves of ritz crackers. melt a half-stick of butter. mix crushed crackers in butter. set aside. wonder silently whether there's enough butter in that mixture.

lightly steam 15oz of chopped broccoli. broccoli should be crunchy. don't fully cook. transfer broc to a biggish bowl. melt another half-stick of butter cuz you live 10 minutes from indiana or wisconsin. hold big-ass block of velveeta cheese over broc bowl. grab a sharp knife with your dominant hand. start slicing into the velveeta block. watch as the shards fall on the hot-as-fuck broc and butter. do this for 4-8oz worth of "cheese". to your liking really.

dump out oozy, gooey, midwestern broc pile into a glass casserole dish. spread tiz mixture over it. pop in oven at 350º until it smells good. and the top is sorta lightl brown. fuck plates. eat right out of casserole dish.

thanks for the memories, mrs. geraghty.

middle brow | citizen how

true happiness.

i love christmas. it's the most wonderful time of the year.

but i thought a lot about why i love it. and couldn't really figure out why. 

on christmas eve: our family tradition is to go to my grandparents' house, or my aunt and uncle's house, and....... to eat and drink a shitload until it was time to open presents and then a weird-ass santa claus would come and creep everyone out including the children and we'd all laugh a bit at the same old stories and quote "it's a wonderful life" to each other and get a buzz and one or two of our cousins would get a bit high and then we'd scratch off lotto cards and drive home to go to bed. so... any old south-side family party really.

on christmas day: our family tradition is to wake up mid-morning and empty our stockings of fannie may turtles and chap stick and clementines and then to rush over to the tree to open our presents one at a time my three sisters and i but i was always so hyperactive that i'd open all of my gifts in 1-2 turns and then just sit there watching my middle sister carefully unwrap in such a way as to save all the paper and she'd have some dumb fucking skirt sorry ma and then i'd get frustrated and just "accidentally" open 3 or 4 of her little gifts for her to move things along so we could drink some fucking egg nog. and maybe go back to those turtles that were sitting on the carpet in the other room. but then we'd eat burnt bacon and cold eggs and maybe a cinnabon or three and pass out until the extended family showed up. and then we'd........... eat and drink a shitload until it was time to open presents and then a weird-ass santa claus would come and creep everyone out including the children and we'd all laugh a bit at the same old stories and quote "it's a wonderful life" to each other. and then, if were were still coherent, maybe we'd have a funny conversation with a cousin we were close with and a painful conversation with some family we were far with. then we'd walk to the neighborhood bar and get all toes-y and come home and make fun of my dad's magnets and then go to bed. so any south-side family party really.

so, what's to love? is it the presents per se? no way. when i think back about it, i can hardly remember a single christmas gift. the only two that really stand out (sorry ma) are the pad of paper and the essential oils kit. the pad of paper, i don't know if that was even meant to be a gift. i honestly think my old man was all goof'd on grass when he wrapped it and put it in my pile. a few weeks before my 8th christmas i have a vivid memory of him opening his saab trunk and then quickly closing it. and telling me that i couldn't look. and making a big deal that i had seen into his trunk. but all i had seen was this weird pad of paper. which totally confused me cuz i didn't ask for a fucking pad of paper for christmas. and also i likely believed in santa claus at the time.

anyway, i recognized the pad of paper when i opened it christmas morning. and was super flabb'd. had no idea what i was supposed to do with it. but then i figured it out. and drew and drew and drew. and traced even more. until i ran out of paper. that weird ass pad of paper was the best damn christmas gift i ever got. ... only bad thing was that my parents wouldn't buy me a new one when i ran out of paper. later that winter, they burnt all my art supplies for heat. and that was the last time i had ever drawn anything. 'til i stole their atm card and drew cash from their debit account for pearl jam tickets. 

and the essential oils kit. i think i got that at my 32d christmas. and it flabbergasted just as much as the pad of paper did. and i stared at it. in the corner of my room. for weeks thereafter. and polly and i wondered what we were supposed to do with it. and four or five of our friends posted on facebook about it constantly. always dumping essential oils all over their babies' faces. for fucking sleep or toothaches or to make their babies' feet greasy enough to slip on socks? i don't know. seems tough to get socks on babies is all i know. anyway, my machine and oils are probably still collecting dust on a shelf at the logan square VDO if anyone's interested. sorry ma.

so if it ain't the gifts, then what the fuck gives? why would i like christmas so much? the music? well yeah. course. more on that...

but really. as i was running to the brewery around 10p last night. after getting word that a foeder was overflowing with swell-water. i realized that i love the anticipation. it's really just like everything else. like they* say that happiness comes from a handful of things. one of those things is vacations. but the vacation itself don't do shit! it's the planning. the anticipation. all the talking you do about it in advance. that's what makes you happy. the vacation itself might be relaxing. but by the halfway point you ain't happy. you're just thinking about how it's ending so soon.

much like christmas. the anticipation is all the fun. the thought, 3 weeks out, that you gotta get a gift for your gal or guy. and maybe a niece or nephew. and what the hell will you get them. and you think about it a moment or two until the moment passes and you forget about it until 2 weeks out when you have a little oh-shit moment. walking through a fresh-fall grip of snow. whistling an andy williams take on an average christmas tune. (cuz you lost your phil spector christmas record. one of only three christmas records that matter. another one being chuck b's christmas w linus and lucy. but i digress.)

anyway the anticipation. of what? of the average gifts you'll give? and the average gifts you'll get? no no... it's the anticipation of love. of the big giant love exchange that happens on that day. and before that day. when people are just nicer to each other. when people think about others a liiiiiitttle bit. when kids smile in excitement. old people smile too. and they pass on those smiles to other old people. (old people being us. people who read newsletters. you know. and then reeallly old people too. those people are great mostly.) this smile and love exchange happens in the walgreens pharmacy line. and at a red light at 79th and pulaski. and on the red line just past wrigley. and at the holy-shit-what-horrible-thing-happened-to-it christkindlmarket.

it's all about love, actually. (ha! gross.) but really. the anticipation of the big love exchange.

oh. and it's about church. every year we also "go to church". sorry ma.

but back to the music real quick: i heard a really smart interview awhile back. i think the interviewee was jon brion. who's a brilliant producer. musician. etc. and he talked about how he divides music into two categories. there are tunes that are beautifully written per se. (notice two correct uses of "per se" herein. and zero incorrect uses.) but they're so well-written that it doesn't matter who plays them or how they're played. they'll always be brilliant and beautiful. and then there are songs that are much more about performance. stones songs. pearl jam songs. zeppelin songs. grateful dead songs. songs that only a particular man or woman or band can do well. and when they're covered, they're boring as fuck. cuz it was always about the particular performer. 

now, as much as i love the dead. and pearl jam. and the stones. i've always been a melody guy. i tire very quickly of music that's about emotion or attitude. heavy metal. punk. emo. the rolling stones. rape rap. even really good lyrics sung or rapped over a total of... 3 notes will mostly bore the shit out of me. (excepting dylan and guthrie and nas and craig finn and maybe a handful of others.)

and that's behind, i think, my love for both church songs and christmas music. the shittiest, most pabulum lyrics won't even tickle my register if they're sung over a good melody. and christmas music and church music and belle and sebastian music. it's all all about the melody dude!!! there's a reason there's forty covers of "have yourself a merry little christmas". and they're all pretty enjoyable. it's the fucking melody! you're singing or whistling along to one of the saddest songs in time. a song about how a woman's man is away at war. and all her male friends are at risk of death. and life is a big fucking muddle until they all get back. even christmas. (srsly. listen to the original judy garland take. ol' blue eyes that dirty racist bastard was told to change the lyrics in his later version. to "hang a shining star upon the highest bough". which, of course he did. cuz he was a monster who old cared about hurting people and making money.) 

but melodies! melodies help bring back memories. of that big fucking love exchange. and that's why i love christmas.

oh. and also darlene love. and a warm ritz-broccoli casserole.

so even if you hate christmas... love a stranger some these next few days. and remember it next year this time. 

middle brow missions

last sunday, we had some very successful, fulfilling fun. at our winter supply drive. ... we packed over 200 care kits for the homeless and other chicagoans in need. and filled up on toast and coffee while doing so.

we wanted to take a special, quick minute to focus some of your attention on cut cats courier. they were so damn eager to help!!! to help spread some love to strangers. to deliver all those packages to shelters all over town. if you ever need anything delivered quickly, give them a call. they're the loveliest bunch of folks we've met in awhile. it's so way radical kindness, really.

also a special thanks to all of the following for donating or otherwise helping out.socksmiththe chicago period projectwildistgreat lakes yardgaslight coffee. folks from comfort station. old work pals from corridor. and rosalie.

cut cats!

cut cats!

*new-ish beer notice*

*BLOC PARTY bOYS & gIRLS*

last week we announced a new beer. a berliner weisse with cranberries and boysenberries and cacao and vanilla. called *BLOC PARTY BOYS AND GIRLS*. this week it's still new, as the beer temple and other friends are only *just* getting a delivery. likely the only deliveries before christmas.

so get into the city today or tomorrow. and get the perfect christmas beer. light. lovely. fruit-forward. for dessert or for simple drinking. anticipate that first sip. and then after the first sip, anticipate how it'll change. round off. grow. open up. and then anticipate your next one while you have a refreshing conversation with a cousin you never knew you loved. who grew up so much these past few years. who got old! who got interesting! who opened up!

funny, that.

middle brow missions

so we started this company way back in 2011 to try to make special, happy beers and to fight against the fact that our federal, state and local governments do such a shitty job protecting us from the natural vagaries of human existence. we set out to donate 50% of our profits to charity. which i've since learnt are better described as social justice organizations. (he gave me a ring that was worn by his mother.) and are they ever!

since our founding, we've actually donated more than 50% of our *gross* profits to these organizations. we've basically given away all the money we've made. and we've done it proudly! happily! because the people we gave it to needed it more than we did. 

but giving people and orgs money is only a small part of the work necessary to help score our neighbors some pretty basic amenities. we also have to take action! and shit... ain't christmastime a fine time to take some action?! (actually, it's pretty damn impirtant to do so in may and juūn too.) 

but we're doing it. again. we're hosting a supply drive. just like the one we did in may/june. and it's in the parking lot of our new brewpub. and here's the deal:

this sunday morning. at 11a. it'll be beautiful. i'm talking "i wish they still had farmers markets outside" beautiful. like little anthony and the imperials. ... and you'll be feeling the busyness of the ensuing two weeks. looming over you. and you wanted, again, to help someone this year. but, again, you've only made plans and set aside time to shop and stress and eat and drink and complain and laugh and yell at red lights. but it's gorgeous. and you've got an hour to kill. and so you remember this email and you get on your bike and you ride over to 2840 w armitage in logan sq. and you get there. and you see a bunch of activity under a tent in the parking lot. and some milling about inside. and you alight from your bike and smell the smell of baked bread. and toast. and toppings. and gaslight coffee. (thanks, by the way, a very big thanks, to gaslight coffee in logan square. for roasting delicious fucking coffee and setting us up to brew it for you juuuuust in time for this event.) and then you grab a ziplock bag and listen to a hyper-as-f dude give you the low down on assembling care kits for some needy chicagoans. and you move down the line with your ziplock bag, stuffing it with toothpaste (from wildist) and tampons (from the chicago period project) and shampoo and socks (from socksmith) and granola bars (from chewy?) and deodorant and bandaids and chap stick (from natalie?) and shaving cream and nalgene water bottles. and you get to the end of the line and you're the last bag to be shoved into a messenger bag that hangs on the shoulder of a cut cats courier rider who then jumps on his two wheels and flies through the city on a route designed by our very own genius baker jess galli. down or up or over or back to a shelter. all along the way depositing this bag or that one with a homeless man or woman under an underpass or so.

and you get to peek at a brand new brewery before it opens on armitage and loves you everyday.

we hope to see you sunday. it'll be a ball.

new beer notice

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*BLOC PARTY GOYS & BIRLS*

it's really about boys and girls but all diz goy shit errywhere makin' me all confused. (please push play now on that tom waits youtube tune.) so we did: we got a new beer. we got a couple actually, but we're keepin' most of them under wraps until we open the pub. we're releasing this new berliner weisse, though, in some cans and some kegs next week. now how d'you like that?

we dubbed it so cuz it's yet another bloc party beer at base. that is, a delicious, tart, wheat-ish berliner weisse. even though yeah. it ain't block party weather. hey charlie i'm pregnant. but i always had a nice little post-christmas party with the neighbors on my block. when all the family gone and went. our block-fam would come by. and we'd eat beers in the carhole with the unit heaters on full blast. get a nice 3a buzz while my ma wrapped christmas presents for my 14yo baby ass sister. asleep under her bed. scared of santa claus interloping in the night.

and so this is a wintry bloc party beer. with boysenberries and cranberries. a fruitful combo if ever there was one! the cran just adds tartness to the tartness. but the boysens? they add this truly wild, indescribable depth. and then we thought hey! been trine to mix you. you fruits. up with some vanilla and cacao. and so we did that too. off euclid avenue. and holy fuck this beer got round as that first snowball the oldest kid on your block once made. and that you've judged every snowball against since. and the cacao makes you feel rich. like french-rich. not financially rich. 

anyway. meet *BLOC PARTY BOYS & GIRLS*. a berliner weisse with cranberries, boysenberries, cacao and vanilla. get it at a few specialty shops this holiday season. like small businesses. local guys. modest people making ok livings. but that's it. the rest will be on sale at our fa-sill-ity in a few..... weeks? months? crossin' fingers for the former.

emigrate to the suburbs

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hello it's me. i've thought about us for a long, long time. maybe i think too much.

yeah. 

yeah so here i am again. ever so contrite for having missed so many fridays. but every morning is a classic shitshow case. i land in my seat at 6a and the questions start at 6:01a. and they don't stop! and i ain't complaining! and i ain't pretending like this shit is hard! it's my job! and boy(s and girls) are we lucky to be doing it! and everyone goes to a job where they get questions from the moment they sit down! 

and building out a brewery/restaurant ain't anything special or different. but priorities just shifted a bit on friday mornings. my heart's been with y'all. but my brain and body are elsewhere. 

oh also! i've been so under a stone that i don't know what in the hell's going on in america right now. and when i sat back and thought about whether i could summon a rant of any sort, i thought __________ (zip). nope. nōp. nothing. i got'd nothin'. but a blank mind. and i thought "hmm, what's the last travesty i could call back?" and then it came to me.

remember when donald trump's administration separated tiny, adorable children from their parents at the border in an effort to deter emigration to these beautiful, glorious, wide-open, fertile united states? just sit back and think of that out of context. far removed and gone from all the shouting. like, your political team has moved on to caring about something else this week. maybe alexandria ocasio-cortez? anyway. outside of the context of the decision to fuck with little children. how does a policy meant to fuck with little children sound?

and i hate appealing to economics in a conversation about immigration. but, you know, the states of arizona, texas, and california are starved for workers (unemployment rates of 4.7%, 4%, and 4.2%, respectively). there's plenty of work in those places to go around. that said, if unemployment was high, it would still be fucking lunacy to hurt desperate immigrants just to prove a political point and burn up a couple libs.

i hope that while we lose our heads in work the rest of you haven't forgotten about the monster in the white house. i hope that you get some time at the end of the year to exhale and hug a few people you love. to think about how lucky you are not to be so desperate that you'd rather walk 1,000 miles than stay in your own home another moment longer. much less how lucky you are not to have lost all ability to contact your parents when you finished your journey. or how lucky you are that "emigrating" to you is likely moving to a home you just bought in the suburbs. or moving to another hipster city.

holy shit i just thought of an amazing garbage-play to write: 32yo white cissy boy( and girl) move to the suburbs and can't find their parents anywhere.

i didn't think i had a rant in me. but, you know, the fingers float. anyway, we're all in very good moods. it might not seem like it from this hello paragraph. but we are! i swear it! we love the holidays! we get all our sadness out while listening to christmas card from a hooker in minneapolis and then we're happy happy happy!