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!

gold!

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middle brow wins gold! that's about all we have time to say. it happened a couple weaks back. at FoBAB. which is this rad festival. global in scope. takes place at UIC. ... anyway, a bunch of a really terrific breweries age their beers on wood or in barrels. and usually release just a small amount of such. and then they send some to chicago for fobab. and so we did too. we actually have done so several times these past few years. but this year, we won gold in the classic category. for our *TRADEMARK BRUT* ipa. aged on sassafras wood.

so... go look for any of the beers in our *BRUT* series. they're making a little splash. a little, dry, bright splash. golden, even? your local big box store miiiiight have them. but i reckon not. better luck, we gather, buying from your favorite small businesswoman.

in the meantime, we'll keep building. and rubbing off our foreheads in anxious anticipation. and we hope you're standing by. patiently.

talk again soon.

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middle brow | citizen how

the problem with cool.

so there's this blog called good beer hunting. (note all the rightward letter-tilts today. trying to balance out my leftism. you know. cuz americans really just want bipartisanship.) anyway, this blog-but-so-much-more is probably better described as a general disseminator of beer culture. a media company maybe? anyway it's made up of a bunch of good people who think all the time about beer and the broader beer business and culture more generally. and last week they tweeted a long rant written by this veteran in the craft beer industry. and they seemed to agree with it. and it's stuck with me. (more on politics next week, i promise.)

anyway, the argument went like this: if craft breweries pursue a model of tap room proliferation (he called them "satellite tap rooms"), they're being uncool. and they're being myopic. ... it'll come back to bite them in the ass. and it'll turn the industry into something it's not, effectively. 

the main reason it's myopic: satellite tap rooms directly compete with the bars and restaurants that supported and made possible that very brewery's growth. in other words: when a brewery drops a tap room into a neighborhood, all of the bars in its orbit are negatively affected. this is so because tap rooms increasingly look like taverns. with beer from other breweries. and with food. and events. and all sorts of "tavern" shit. so, they're very much competitive with bars and rest-stops. and so, over time, those restaurants and bars and shops won't carry the brewery's shit.

the main reason it's uncool: you don't compete with your friends. early-era craft breweries wouldn't have done this, for example. cuz they were cool.

but his point is super muddled. at least to me. and maybe the folks at GBH can clarify it.

on the myopia: why would these satellite tap rooms, which his point requires be *just like taverns* in order to pose the purported threat, in order to be super-competitive, fall out of fashion any faster than the historical taverns in each market? right? and if they never fall out of fashion, why does that brewery need super low-margin sales from bars and restaurants in its immediate vicinity?

maybe the point is: eventually the tap room mystique will wear off. and when it does, people will gravitate back to corner bars. and those tap rooms will have to shutter. and corner bar owners have a long memory, and hold grudges. 

but that point is very weak. because it seems way unlikely: natch, if the tap room is forced to close, the brewery is likely hurting more generally and the corner bar's childish grudge won't matter.

now, as for the cool story: i mean, i have no qualms with the logic in that argument. i think far too many breweries do business like dickheads. like in any industry. ... we try constantly to be cool. to do things right. to remember that we're in a community first. and we're individuals second.

but then... back to that industry vet's rant: the history he’s telling has to be wrong. and i only bring it up because it affects his allocation of responsibility. of blame for the problem he's seeing—i.e. less business. 

i know he's an industry vet and i'm not. but older people aren't always right. hear me out: for a new brewery to survive, it must chase either volume or margin. so, if it's got super low margins, it needs to sell high volumes of beer. on the other hand, if hey've got really high margin on their product, they don't need to sell a lot of it to survive. but... BUT: the pursuit of either threatens the existence of its very first supporter: the local craft beer bar. 

first, volume. by spreading its product to other craft beer bars, a brewery hurts its early friend. that is, the second craft beer bar in a neighborhood makes the first one less indispensable. and once restaurants get into craft beer, any distinction once held by that first craft beer bar is nullified completely. 

second, margin. by competing on the street level, with a tap room or brewpub, a brewery hurts its early friends in the tap room's vicinity (which is often naturally in the same neighborhood as the early supporters).

look at tap takeovers, for example. way back when, these drew people! they were exciting! you can get a local craft breweries entire offerings at one bar on one night. wow! you mean that brewery that just opened in our city. the only craft brewery in our city. and whose beer i can hardly ever find. they'll be at a local bar next thursday? and the brewers and owners will be there too? holy hell! grab your husbands and get to that bar right away after work and hop on a barstool and don't hop off 'til midnight!

these days: tap takeovers are a dime a dozen. and fucking taco bell carries craft beer.

that's the right story to tell. sure, we can only blame craft brewery actions for the decrease in craft beer bar business. but the breweries wouldn't survive without acting in those ways. and so craft beer bars have to get creative to keep business. just like every other bar and restaurant has to do. 

the problem with cool, see, is that it's cool. 

. . . . .

now, he’s right, of course, that we don’t have to be biz as usual. we can chase volume or margin in ways that are “cool” and not in ways that are 80s-ruthless. but it’s easier to buy that point when the story is fair. and blame ain't shifted and finagled and bent to rest squarely on the shoulders of satellite tap rooms.

cuz what's cooler than anything? fighting for the little guy.

real politics

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stand up and speak out.

we love politics. and we'll never shut up. and i guess we'll take this opportunity to remind y'all that we've been putting our money where our mouths and fingertips are for 5 years. since we opened, we've been donating (more than) 50% of our profits to local social justice orgs. from cure violence to project fire to la casa norte to chicago women's health center. and we ain't gonna stop our social workin'.  

in the meantime, we're happy to be included in this article.

*mission beers*

dark happiness.

the second most exciting thing is our new dark blended beer! it's a collaboration with manual cinema. have you never seen a manual cinema performance?! no??? wow. well you're really in for a treat. and not just the beer. this crew will srsly blow your mind. ok. let me start by explaining what they do. it's a ....... shadow puppet show. i'm dead fucking serious it's a puppet show that will absolutely sit you in your seat. in reality it's so much more than shadow puppetry. it's called "manual cinema" for a reason. they use puppets, sure. but also shadows of human being. and shadows of whole set pieces. and they tell a cinematic story. that's totally immersive and overwhelming and beautiful. 

i refuse to post a video of some past performance. cuz it might ruin the delight you'd experience going in blind. so instead i'll post the most recent nytimes article on them.

in any event. we teamed up with them for frankenstein, which is premiering tomorrow at the court theatre in hyde park. the show runs through the month. but get tickets now because much of it is already sold out. and for now it's the only place to get our collaboration beer! ... for the show, we made a dark blended beer. a little honey. some chocolate. some salt. a crisp finish. a touch of something sinister on the nose. it's an amalgamation of sorts. of origins. or morals. a hybrid. but still beer. still, at its core, beer. and lovable for that. 

please come to hyde park. to love our beer. and to love humanity. and the dark beauty it bestows.

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check the charts

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to be cool. to be wide awake.

now look who it is. fancy old pete. back from a fancy little trip. too cool to write his mother and his uncles. probably too busy chasing exoticisms. talkin’ all weird. eatin' fancy foreign food. gettin’ all liberal. oh it’s ok. it’s fine. we’ve just been hanging around here, eating dinner together and supporting each other like usual is all. we’re so happy you’re so busy in the big city. with your trips and your instagram and your events. it looks like that video by that band fun. you’re setting that world on fire boy! keep having fun. we’re just a bunch of old boring people. don’t worry bout us. no really. we’ll just be checking our mail for amazon packages.

no no no no. no trips here. no time for them right now. maybe again someday. but... i'm still sorry i haven’t written. just sawin’ on our buildout. windows are in. tanks are set. oven is almost on. ... we’re still aiming for a december opening. at least of the soft sort. and we’re still lefty as hell. 

and thankful for the snow. it makes the last mostly-dreary week a little bit more fun. a little prettier. gives us a little something to talk about with each other. "oh my god it's snowing already?!?!?!?!" we could write a whole fucking newsletter on it weather-related commiseration. or start a clever instagram acct. or maybe a blog. chicagoan's on the weather. and on "how long they've been coming to this place and have lived in this neighborhood". our two most favorite inconsequential things to talk about here.

anyway, dig deep / stay tuned.
 


check the charts.
 


some things happen.

so in these past three weeks, the most important thing that's happened is OUR TANKS!!! they made it inside our building. after a sleepover party one night. it wasn't a party so much as i watched them sleep. pacing through our parking lot. smoking cigs. talking to myself. and to passing dogs and humans. and, in the smaller hours, passing rats. one of them grazed a our currently-boarded up front door. and i ran from my pacing path at the back of the lot. and on the way, i wondered aloud whether i was running to stop the rat from entering our construction site. or whether i just wanted to see something else moving.

so... here's a picture of some of the equipment. it was worth it.

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middle brow | citizen how

ten short years.

remember that blue dress. or the floss dance. or that little girl who grabbed a white pigeon by the face, took the bread bit out of its mouth and ate it herself?

in talking last week about this country's crisis of legitimacy, i ignored a very important distinction. just to recap a bit here: the reason, we're told by scientists of society, that people believe tiny common-knowledge lies is that they often speak to some deeper truth about the world. and in which we believe. so, some voters "believe" that brett kavanaugh didn't attack dr. ford because they first believe that political conservatives are under constant cultural attack. but they don't even get to that point without there being a crisis of legitimacy at play, the scholar's scholarship finds. and what crisis of legitimacy is at play in america today, does he say? very much a political one, whereby the rich and powerful are governed by a different set of rules than the powerless. 

i went on to say that we can help change things for the better by, effectively, deriding cultural conservatives a whole fuckload less. and yes! that's still true!! things would likely improve if we on the left did that. but here's the important, related point that i ignored: while everyone can see our politics and our culture are badly damaged, we tend to focus too much on fixing each in isolation. just like i did last week. to wit: my 'stop yelling at union workers for eating cheeseburgers!!!' is an attempt to empower the working class culturally. but ................ BUT

it also empowers them politically. and it likely does so more effectively than more traditional political actions would. hear me up. you can change policies by changing the political actors who effect them. and, in a democracy, thank goddess, you can change political actors simply by voting! right?! well... no. not really. it's super disingenuous to suggest otherwise. it's sad but true that in most cases your vote in and of itself would not change anything. your tendency to vote might, though. by keeping you active civically. etc. etc. a conversation for another time. but the bigger point is, the solitary act of voting does not often cause change. (we're all very proud voters. just for other reasons.) this flies in the face of traditional arguments about political change. vote! vote! vote! (no no. you must do so much more.)

so, while you can hardly change politics with one vote every 2-4 years. you can change culture quickly. and that might be the best way to change politics. in other words, if we make it so the same cultural rules apply to you no matter whether you're rich or poor. black or white. right or left—and, as discussed last week, this is something we can do immediately! if we start treating the working power as good as the leisurely rich. then we start delegitimizing wealth and power in general. when excessive wealth power are seen for what they are—namely, unproductive, inefficient, embarrassing, ugly—the excessively wealthy and powerful will have a harder time retaining political power. and will lose control of the levers of rule- and decision-making. and political legitimacy can be restored. 

this is all a bit pie-in-the-sky. but, ask yourself, what's more likely to work? a viral instagram vid deriding wealth and power. or a quiet vote against a billionaire but for a millionaire? you might ask yourself, or me: isn't this a bit hypocritical? just last week you castigated liberals for making fun of conservatives, robbing them of their cultural legitimacy. and it's true! i did! what i'm saying here, though, is that the derision was misplaced. we allowed the wealthy to divide us along cultural lines, so that we didn't notice the extreme economic divisions between us and them. we should have been making fun of the excessively wealthy all this time. ... it took less than ten years time to trigger them death-throe spasms in republicans. that bodes well for a plan to take on the dickhead-rich.

in conclusion: we're voters. but we're also protesters. and we also stand up for the union teacher's desire to drink a macro lager after school. as a way to take both cultural and political power from the elite. it might take time. but we're pulling every stop.

til then...

middle brow | citizen how

you know i have a love for everyone i know.

what do you call a fucking racist? you call them a fucking racist. and you scold them. immediately and thoroughly. and try to teach them a lesson. but then... who're these racists you should be calling out? well, so, so many of us are. whether it's outward. or whether we benefit from institutional racism and refuse to acknowledge it. or intentionally hide from it. so what then? do you walk around telling 70% of the people you encounter that they're racist as f? 

i don't know. that seems pretty impractical to me. and likely way counterproductive. you should certainly talk to people you know are racists about your own racism openly. about how you're imperfect. and you're working on it. in an effort to encourage them to work on their own racist impulses. likely handed down to them through family. or neighbors growing up. etc.

but angrily haranguing the nicest boomer you know who happens to benefit from institutional racism and who sorta liked what mark kirk had to say: not wise in my book. 

and what about misogyny? what about that mark kirk voter? i forget whether he, the former short-termed senator from illinois, was pro-choice. but lots of republicans like him are not. and if your boomer mother voted for him because she thought, on balance, he sounded more sensible than tammy duckworth, it's not good sense to show up to thanksgiving dinner with a "mom hates women" sign. the misogynist bitch. also can't believe you forgot to put the rolls in the oven. (in crayon on the back, cuz you gotta use what you got.)

of course, there is plenty of misogyny and racism that calls for loud boos and bold signs. but not all racism and misogyny are equal. and it seems like a lot of us have lost sight of that.

- - - 

i know lots of trump haters (and some trump lovers) read this memo. and i say to them with 100% confidence: the side that's become increasingly openly racist is clearly doing greater harm to this country. is clearly *way more* in the wrong. but there's something to be said on the other side. that i've walked around thinking for two years but haven't put to paper because i was afraid of it. and here it is:

in some ways, the current climate represents a massive failure of creativity. by liberals. why can't we win the abortion argument without calling my deeply pious, selfless mom a misogynist? why can't we acknowledge the racism inherent in a lot of republican policies without calling every single republican voter (about 50% of the country) disgusting racists? 

let me take a step back. to a really killer tweet thread i read a week or so ago: this thread is both alarming and obvious-when-you-read-it. it speaks to why humans often pretend to believe or ignore common knowledge lies. like the ones trump tells daily. or the ones brett kavanaugh still seems likely to have told the public over the last couple weeks. the reason we believe a little bit of bull shit: sometimes, despite the bull shit being untrue itself, it reaffirms a deeper truth that we believe about the world. like, the tweeter says, the larger truth in the case of brett kavanaugh is that no one should be held to account for "soft" crimes they committed 35 years ago. or even, that GOP voters and traditions are under attack. kavanaugh worked both of these well. the deeper truth trump often appeals to is the latter one for certain: trump addresses the feeling many GOP voters have that they're under constant cultural attack, and so the obvious lie about his inauguration crowd (and dilly) size is oh-so-smoothly swept under the rug.

but what's more interesting about this scholar's work is that voters don't believe these common lies unless there's a crisis of legitimacy at play. and our political and economic systems are currently in serious crises of legitimacy. where a different set of rules applies to the big guy than applies to the little guy. the internet has done a terrific job of exposing that unfair imbalance. but it's ironic: the internet has made white lies easier and quicker to debunk. which has in turn has delegitimized the system. which in turn has led people to believe more white lies than ever. whoa!!!

anyway. back to real life. how is this relevant to you, trump voters and haters? well, for one, we have to continue to empower the little guy. the more evenly little and big guys are treated, the less likely people will look for white lies to believe.

but, for two, and much easier than for one: there's something we can do in our everyday lives. i said above that our current status partially represents a failure of creativity by liberals. here's what i meant:

1) we made fun of them. admit it. the left made fun of the right first. were you around for the first few years of twitter? we taunted them. we laughed at them. we scolded them. we ganged up on them on the internet! cuz it was easy! and we may have been right! better put, we may have genuinely believed in our deeper truth that the republican party was less inclined to support and empower women. but that didn't make it fair to make fun of mitt romney for his genuine attempts to hire from his binder full of women. 

2) we called them racist for believing in small government. now, i'm gonna be condescending here. something i constantly try to avoid, and sometimes succeed in avoiding. but not here: most people don't know that many arguments for "small government" are really just a dressing up of flat-out racism and misogyny. or, better put, dressing up attempts to retrench the white male status quo. that's totally true! of course it is! white males have power! have had power for fucking millennia! and they're rapidly losing it. and humans are way loss averse. they hate losing what they already have. even if they don't have much of it. (see: the occasionally employed coal miner in west virginia.) so they look for any way they can to retain power. to keep things "like they used to be". and so the powerful males make a bull shit low-tax-small-government argument, and then dog whistle to the less powerful males. 

but!!!! but! but! but! there are very legitimate reasons to be skeptical of elites. to prefer that the vast majority of government power should be vested at the local level instead of at the powerful political and economic centers of the country. so republican voters are not inherently racist. or, better put: are not any more racist than at least 60% of democratic voters. so, since it's not necessarily a distinguishing factor twixt pubs and dems, we shouldn't have been calling republican racists except where it was obvious and necessary.

3) exposure. ... so, someone expresses genuine belief in god. and belief in a particular religion and its tenets. and those beliefs make them want to restrict abortion. and suddenly, they "hate women". no. they don't. that's bull shit. they're voting the way most voters do: based on their own self-interest. and many of them haven't been in a position where an abortion was wise or necessary. and so they have a much harder time softening their religious belief on it.

what do i mean by exposure? some of the nicest damn people i've ever met say and think some of the most racist shit. but a lot of it is innocent. that is, there are truly superhumanly selfless people in the world. take: i was driving 13 kegs from pilsen to logan square yesterday. in my little ford ranger. and i did a shitty job tying them down. and somewhere on the near west side i went over one of those love-bumps the city adds to so many streets. in their wisdom. and the kegs went flying everywhere. all over the street. and dozens of cars whipped around me. and one white guy, on his way to work, stopped his car, helped me collect the kegs, and helped me restrap them to my truck. about 15 minutes all told. that's a lot of time to help a stranger. and true, lots of white dudes would never have helped me if i was black. but this one would have. sometimes you just know these things. you can just feel them. he would have. but he still made a softly racist comment toward the end of the affair. a comment that he would not have made had he had more exposure to the neighborhood. and to the lovely people in it. 

it reminds me, in a way, of how my liberal bubble views republicans. they tend to think monstrous things about all of them. mostly due to insufficiently frequent exposure. how sweetly ironic.
so we made fun of them. we refused to accept their genuine belief in the occasional wisdom of small government. and we hypocritically criticized them for their mere lack of exposure. and all of this made them feel illegitimate. think about how you felt when republicans called you unpatriotic when you opposed the iraq war. right?

but we have the power to be less hypocritical! and since we robbed them partially of their legitimacy, we can help restore it! if all it takes to prevent donald trump from being reelected is that i leave that white union worker alone when he eats a fucking cheeseburger. or i vote my conscience on abortion while i let my mom vote her conscience on abortion and i don't call her a woman-hater for doing so. then it's worth it.

think of it as one right-now small step in empowering the little guys and gals around you. and in the meantime, fight racism in it's most dangerous forms: outward and institutional. and then, bigger picture, get out the vote for little guy politicians this and every relevant february, march, october and november.

cuz. end of day. you're all pretty little too. little and in the middle.