middle brow missions

sheets and shapes and on and on.

melina! ausikaitis! d'you know her?! you should. she's been mobbin' round this town for years. hanging at handlebar lots. and rainbo club. and making art. and being really nice to people. and supporting other artists. and sining with joan of arc. and the depth of her deeds and duties in this city continues to surprise polly and i. as we learn more and more about her. this super cool woman. this inspiring doer. ... we first met her while polly was managing over at lula cafe. (our fav damn spot in the city.) she curates the art that hangs on the walls there. (go see it now, by the way. the wonderfully weird and cool @morsims has a bunch of work up. neons. sharpie drawings of dogs on t-shirts. etc.)

we saw some of her art on a visit to her house up north of us. earlier this year. as we were casting about for the right way to dress our walls. and when we saw her fabrics-in-dried-glue worx, we were blown away. we loved them. so we hung them from our ceilings. but we couldn't leave without asking after the unicorns. the thousands of tiny unicorns. drawn over and over again. on a 3' x 6' sheet of yellow paper. a work of art that should permanently reside at intuit or some other cool museum-gallery.

we wished we could leave with more. with some of her clothes, perhaps? to wear around? the brewery? as living, walking pieces? ... but we couldn't quite. but no big!!! cuz you'll see.

this coming sunday night. from 6-9p. we'll be celebrating the shit out of her. with a DJ set by her old pals good f*ck. and a bunch of letherbee's besk. in radler form. and a bunch of living, walking melina ausikaitis pieces!

come through for an early dinner. and stay for the chance that it gets a little weird!

why aren't you me? middle brow's 8 year struggle with itself.

middle brow started in a small fit of self-loathing. nick and i were both working corporate jobs. spending about every cent we made on fun beers and fake-fancy dinners on long weekend outings with our hip xennial friends. and short weekend nights getting long-buzzed at the map room with our troll childhood friends. whichever. ... and every damn time we left an overpriced beer bar or hype restaurant, we'd feel terrible about ourselves. there was a shitty imbalance that we desperately wanted to correct: we could spend gobs of money on a basic necessity, thereby transforming it into a luxury. three square luxury meals a day. ... but there were people in our city who couldn't afford even one. and there were kids whose dads were in jail due to gun violence. or who died by ricocheted bullet.
anyway, nick's idea was to start a brewery that donated half the profits to social justice orgs in the city. and so that's what we've been doing. but back to the super fun topic of self-loathing!!!

the name middle brow was born out of massive disappointment in the high brow people we sometimes encountered in all this breezy pleasure seeking. or, at least, the *pretend* high brow people. ... but we were in that clique. that high brow food and wine clique. and we were drinking beer. and we knew it was just as important as the food and wine the folks around us were consuming, but it wasn't packaged all that way. and so we started wearing it as a badge of honor. we were middle brow. we weren't high brow, and we didn't want to be.

now, what is high brow, really? high brow, as far as we're concerned, represents super smart consumption. note: high brow has nothing to do with *production*; just consumption. virginia woolf was a straight-up *bad person* for calling out middle class people the way she did. (coining the term middlebrow to apply to middle class folks who tried to gain status through cultural consumption.) because high brow people *have always* gained status through consumption. not through doing anything productive. and so high brow people consume things like free jazz and classical music and fancy trad wines and liquors and opera and theatre and susan sontag essays and documentaries and foreign films and art films and trendy art. and in consuming all the formers and latters, rich people set themselves apart from other classes. 

but fuck that!!!! why do they want to separate themselves from less wealthy jacks and jills? what terrible living! what horrible humans!

well, we were thankful for two things: first, beer had come along. and it was immediately accessible to all classes. and it was well-made: the producers were their friends and neighbors. often their smart, hard-working friends and neighbors. and so this painstaking production represented something special that the rich couldn't get because they didn't want it. and second, high brow consumption was becoming more democratic. to wit: netflix is loaded with documentaries, and they're popular as f with our middle class friends and family. susan sontag essays are online for everyone to read; you don't need to go to a university or highfalutin bookstore to read them. (though are they really all that special? methinks not, in the main.) and my uncle, who's a union painter, listens to classical music while he's painting. because he simply likes music. and super narrow faux-wood floorboards are cheaper than ever! high brow people can no longer set themselves apart through their consumption. 

in any event, we had been in the clique. and had seen that the chef and the somm had had no clothes. and we were happy to wear our background on our sleeves. and to celebrate the middle. but then we were suddenly on the other side of that clique. on the production side. and whoa... we felt the joy of the pleased and the wrath of the displeased. very immediately. 

my good pal joe tweeted something in the last year or two. just a phrase that he'd clearly come up with himself. but that i can't help thinking about all the time. *why aren't you me?* 

in our increasingly stratified social environment, that question always seems to be on everyone's mind. we felt it early in beer, when we'd get a comment about how one of our saisons "isn't a saison". or hmmm. "not enough oats in your witbier". or that our hazy ipa was "a decent attempt at the style". and it blew us away. in what world could someone think that they knew more about how our beer should taste? the presumption, clearly, is that anyone making anything that didn't taste exactly how the taster wanted it to taste was clearly an amateur. and looking for advice on how to improve said thing. "why aren't you me?!?!?!"

and it happens all the time at bungalow. mostly, people are very happy at our new brewpub. if you haven't been in to try our new row of beers. or our happy-ass pizzas or our delightful bread, get here soon! you're wasting time! ... but occasionally we'll get a comment that there's "too much wheat" in our crust. which always makes me think, "we put it there!!! it wasn't an accident!!!!" so much thought has gone into every last detail in the space. every drop of beer. ever bit of pizza or bread or salad. every customer interaction. if there's wheat and acidity in our pizza crust, we obviously don't think it's too much. we're totally on board with you not loving our pizza as neapolitan pizza. but unless you hate wheat and light acidity, you'll enjoy our pizza. and then, if you hate wheat and light acidity, you most definitely should not eat our pizza! there's tons of other places to find pizza crust that's blander and more of a vehicle for the ingredients. and we *love* those pizza places too, when we're looking for that kind of pie. "why aren't you me?!?!"

and the same phrase sort of imbues our politics these days, doesn't it? it's the echo chambers we live in. where 90% of our day is spent consuming information that confirms our underlying ethics and beliefs and opinions about how the world is and should be. and then when we encounter someone outside that echo chamber, we're sort of shocked they exist. and we ask them snarky questions. (or listen to a clever NPR or fox news reporter do so.) in fact, this is the context in which joe d first uttered the phrase "why aren't you me?!?!"

nobody on either side of the political line is willing to consider for a second that the other side ain't, somehow, dumb. there's that terrible no-good wird. stupid republicans are religious and allow their religious beliefs to influence who they vote for???!?!?!?! idiots. don't they know there's no god? ... stupid liberals spend all their time worrying about the earth. humans are small. i'm gonna water my lawn *twice* as hard. and don't they know money-in-the-moment is more important anyway? idiots.

"why aren't you me?!?!?!"

we make things that people have opinions about. that's great! we're lucky! really lucky! because people really really care about the things we make. enough to put effort into reviewing them. but everyone everywhere should take a more generous approach to the things about which they opine. 

there's a long tradition in restaurant work of complaining about customers. and i do my best to forbid it, or at least strongly discourage it. its ugly behavior. and it falls into the "why aren't you me?!" category. when someone tells you they're gluten free, don't roll your eyes that they came to a brewery. when someone asks for their pizza to be cooked a particular way, don't stomp your feet and huff and puff in the pizza kitchen. when someone brings all their mom friends into the joint with a bunch of strollers and unruly kids, find life in the moment! don't complain about how they're taking up too much space. or how they're super demanding on behalf of their *most important in the world* kids. ... there are lots of ways to be *good*. not everyone will be exactly your kind of *good* all the time. these are mostly good people with what servers might interpret as weird, annoying customer quirks. but only because they're behaving outside of server expectations. i try to tell them to have an open mind. and to stop wondering "why aren't you me?!?!?!"

and that's a good mentality to have generally speaking. because nobody's you. or, because nobody's anybody. including you.

starter home.

starter home.



staccato is probably an italian word. right? anyway, it's a musical phenomenon where each note is super sharply defined. but together, these apparently independent notes are super dependent upon one another. if you just played one sharply defined note, it'd be super intense but wanting for meaning. two intense notes played consecutively gets you a bit closer to having a thing. but a whole cluster of staccato and you have a pretty intense whole. beautiful, but intense. 

that's this song. it's also bungalow. when we're pumping out beers on the fly. and we're blindly stretching dough. and running drinks and bread plates and dodging the unawares. the blissfuls. we're seemingly independent parts. working very  much together. ensemble. to create something. 

and that's why we play it nearly every busy night. and it's why we do our best to quash any sense of entitlement by both our service team and our customers. we're all on the same level here in this building. in the radical middle class.

listen in to our work soundtrack at this link here: https://spoti.fi/2uLh0A1.

new beer notice

*PUB BEER* or the smell of slowly starting to cook.

so here we are. don't i say that all too much? something lame like that. to start out a rant. or a review of myself. or our beers. so... here we are. so.... whoa whoa. omg yo. have you heard? about our new way of hyping up a paragraph?! it's just like the old way. oh. hi there. it's us again. 

so. here we are. 4 years after first engaging foeder crafters. to reconfigure a couple puncheons we'd bought and busted up. and several years still after engaging them on proper foeders for our someday brewpub. and agreeing on an order and price and char and steam. and then 1.5 years after visiting st louis and staying in the beautiful soulard district and slapping the second shift crew on the back and watching a bunch of arkansan fan boys hassle corey king. and getting a bit tore up on side project beers with matt foeder (i assume that's his last name?). and then 7 months after veeerrrrrryyyyy carefully dropping them into place. with the inimitable larry of MRL Enterprises Inc. zen-like behind the wheel of his forklift. cigarette drooping from his lips just so. surly comeback at the ready. practiced. and then 4 months after knowingly and regrettably drying the shit out of them. and then 1 month after rehydrating them. just barely saving their lives. ... we've got our first foeder beer.

it's pretty common to age a beer in a foeder for a long, long time. and lots of breweries take their brand new foeders and ripp a boat of hot ass water through 'em to ease the overwhelming wood qualities. or else they blend their early foeder beers with other stainless beers. to keep them fresh new-wood notes mellower. but not us. we just hosed a cute little pub beer. modeled off an english mild ale. straight into the first foeder we cleaned and prepped. and tasted it twice a day. until juuuust the moment at which the wood started making its presents felt. (we're here! your aunt and uncle from out of town! you like model fire trucks, right?!)

*PUB BEER* is our foeder.... pub beer. we ain't calling it an english mild. cuz. uh. we don't want to? cuz who cares about style names? cuz you'll come in and read a slightly confusing description of it that'll give you juuuust the right sense of the beer. and you'll order it and like it and *PUB BEER* will just feel right. in that moment. there and then. we promise. ... anyway, there's always something in a beer that places you in a place. and times you out. ... is *PUB BEER* dripping with caramel? not exactly dripping. does *PUB BEER* taste like the way a fire smells??? no. does it beckon children's cereal?!?!?!?! no no. does it remind you of candy? absolutely not. but does *PUB BEER* sort of remind you of a memory of crossing a bridge in london despite never having been to london? yes. does *PUB BEER* taste the way a springtime morning or a girlfriend-cheek smells, fresh and lightly warm and sweet? yes. does *PUB BEER* remind you of that moment years ago, when you stacked a pile of new 2x4s in your lawn for your dad and he got home and scolded you cuz didn't you know that water warps wood and it's supposed to rain tonight and go get all those back in the garage stat? yes. does it remind you of yesterday, when you decided that all the hoppy and sour and clean beers were fine and great and all, but you wanted just the slightest taste of caramel and wood in your spring beer. you wanted to taste the memory of the previous year's sun hitting your white-ass skin and heating it up hot. that's what slightly toasty, caramel-colored beers taste like to you sometimes. the good ones, at least. 

they taste like the scent of the earth and all its things slowly starting to cook. to warm up. in spring time. they taste like the moment all the intelligent things start to look around for the source of the good-smell. cuz the earth is just one big pre-caramel.

and this wood! this foeder wood! all over the front and back of this beer. like a cradle for the mouth made by a baby-carpenter-prodigy. jesus's childhood friend-carpenter who was way better at woodworking so jesus had to start playing up that whole messiah thing to get attention. this carpenter gal had a baby who had a baby who had a baby who lived for a thousand-plus years and who then had baby matt foeder in st louis. who then made us a foeder of precious glam wood. which barely touched this beer. but which still filled up all its cracks with simple warming wood sounds.

the earth is slowly cooking up. finally. and humans are scurrying for sun. and light, warming beers. and we pulled such a caramel-y beer from a magic wooden beer cradle. and it's been fluffed-up by some carbon gas. and is being drawn frequently in our pub. today. ... come drink *PUB BEER*. and the smell of slowly starting to cook.

fresh fridays! at bungalow by middle brow!


middle brow citizen how.

happy to lose. if to be found.

there's this silly thing in american law. i shouldn't say it's silly. i should just say it's intentional. and not ubiquitous across countries. and that's the *beyond a reasonable doubt* standard. ... it's a very high standard. it's often used in criminal law because we value freedom so much that we want to be absolutely certain someone is guilty before taking it from them. but just because it's one standard utilized in the criminal justice system does not make it the only standard worth utilizing ever. e.g., the *preponderance of the evidence* standard is often used in other situations. and sometimes courts are simply concerned with whether something is reasonably likely to be true.

here's what's not reasonably likely to be true (a text i received from a ...... family member recently): If you put all the pieces together here's what you get. The DNC rigs the Democratic Primary Election against Bernie Sanders so Hilliary can win the nomination. Obama's administration starts to request surveillance on Trump, his family, his transition team, and anyone associated with him. Donna Brazil gives Hilliary the questions to a debate. The DNC pays Christopher Steele to come up with a smear dossier about Trump. John McCain turns the fake dossier over to the FBI, knowing that his move would cause a major investigations that would split the county in two. The mainstream media releases a taped conversation about Trump talking about grabbing women parts. After all this Trump still wins the General Election. Obama orders an investigation into Russia meddling in our elections. Obama changes Executive Order 12333 to allow more agencies to have access to surveillance data. The Democratic Party comes up with a scandal that Trump Colluded with Russia to win the election with no evidence or proof. This wild claim is backed up by the mainstream media. Obama hold overs start unmasking Trump's transition team and staff members then release the classified information to the mainstream media. Why? Because the DNC and the Obama administration colluded with the intelligence community to thwart Trump's campaign efforts to get him elected president. All this Russia collusion is an attempt to cover up the fact that the Obama administration, the intelligence community, the DNC, along with the mainstream media used our nations surveillance as a political tool to try to get Hilliary elected President. This makes Watergate look like a kindergarten play.

this was sent to me after the mueller report was released. notice how long it is? how reasonably likely is it all to be true?

now. on the contrary. how reasonably likely is this to be true: the russians wanted a manipulable president. donald trump owed them money, so they offered to help him win the presidency. he gracefully accepted their help.

notice how short that story is? and how likely it is to be true? ... now, is it true beyond a reasonable doubt? i reckon not, as it's pretty tough to find a smoking gun for this type of crime. but... does a preponderance of the evidence show this to be true? or, at least, is this reasonably likely to be true? i mean, who knows? wouldn't there be meetings (yes!) and emails (yes!) and phone calls (yes!) all suggesting this is true? would someone really thoughtless (his dipshit son? his shoddy lawyer? his greedy campaign manager? himself?) even say things in public to encourage or suggest collusion? 

i’d say yes. i think that the chances are extremely high that donald trump cheated to win the presidency. and sold out our country to the russians. and should be impeached and thrown in jail. ... he’s been committing serious crimes his entire life. without suffering any consequences. because he has money. 

he shouldn’t have gotten within miles of an NBC tv show, much less the presidency. what a country! no room for improvement here!

but i digress. the big point is: YOUR OPINIONS SHOULDN’T BE HELD TO ONE LEGAL STANDARD!!!!! if you think donald trump worked with russia, we’ve seen that that’s reasonable. if you think that american teen from seattle murdered that italian kid, we’ve seen that that’s reasonable. if you think michael jackson sexually assaulted a teen under his supervision, we’ve seen that that’s reasonable. ... now, if you believe that 9/11 was a conspiracy, you’re daft. the evidence for that reads sorta like the paragraph above. conspiracies require you believe that powerful humans are total geniuses and total idiots at the same time. ... like hillary clinton concocted this massive, monstrous, diabolical plan. and executed it with like forty other tight-lipped geniuses. but then they couldn’t figure out a way to get secret emails to her personal computer without getting caught?

but tell yourself whatever you gotta to sleep at night. sleep is more important. 

friends we wish we had.

nostalgia. the good kind.

there's a brilliance in the opening chords of "lost in the supermarket" by the clash. they kind of *remind me of a time*. not in the way that all songs remind you of a time. the time that they came out, that is. but this is different. cuz this song came out when i didn't know songs. or, rather, when i didn't yet have ears. because i wasn't yet a living human. but this song was among the many hot tracks that were in regular radio rotation when i was still jumping on my parents bed. and when i was stoked on my new air force ones. and when the cute girls and their bunch of hoodlum boyfriends were actually, seriously holding a boombox up to their ears at the village swimming pool. and UB40 was playing. and it was the first time i recognized a band merely by recognizing the voice of the lead singer. "this is the guy who sings red red wine". but the song wasn't red red wine. ... and when i got out of preschool and ran out back and laid on my side and rolled down a hill. a hill whose valley was covered in dandelions. a "hill", it turns out, that's no more than a 2' drop. a "valley", it turns out, that's just the area where the grass and sidewalk meet. ... and when, on my day off of school, my mom and little sister and i road the 3-mile circle bike path the morning after a big rain storm. and i decided to ride straight through the ankle deep water that had gathered overnight in a slight land depression. and learned what it felt like to have wet shoes. ... and when my summers felt like fast times at ridgemont high. which i hadn't seen 'til i was older. but i lived in real time.

but i wasn't small back then. or, rather, i was the same size i am now back then. and i had all the same opinions back then. and i liked the same foods back then. and i knew all the same words back then. and had read the same books back then. and i hated shoes back then. and i had learned to play guitar back then. and had forgotten how to play guitar back then. and i fell in love with a few women back then. and forgotten those women back then. and married sweet, beautiful polly back then. who i had seen crossing me in the other direction on a similar bike path in holland, mi. i swear it. and i had already lived in new york and san francisco and traveled around the world and opened a brewpub back then. and i hated the clash back then. just like i hate them now. except for "lost in the supermarket". which i love. because it reminds me of a time. ... listen to this song. and then go listen to *SPIRITUALIZED* or some shit.

new beer notice


last year, we decided to launch new "line", so to speak. "launching" anything seems a bit suspect. like, if you're launching it, it's already not a thing. if you "launch" it, it's only as permanent as it will be popular. and if you describe it as a new "line" or "product" you're already super f'in alienated from it. but then there we were. nearly 5 years into brewing beer in chicago. never having made an ipa. never having made a lager or a pale ale or an american stout or english mild. but we loved those beer styles!!! most of what we drank, after starting with a delicate belgian beer, were american and german-derivative styles. and we loved a really simple, beautifully brewed ipa. no matter how much shit we talked on 'em.

we started thinking of them as middle classics. beers we drank when our middle class started showing. when we stopped being polite. and started being real. when we were tired of thinking about what we were eating and drinking. when we were sitting around a newspaper fire in a wet summer forest with a bunch of degenerate friends. when our buddy's older brother. a union concrete grinder with a sunburn. got so drunk that it was funny to fly-swat his love handles.

pilseners. and bright american lagers. and american stouts. and session ipas. and pub beers. and american wheats. and etc. etc. etc. ... and now that we've got our own silly joint, we're doing it! (not launching it.)

so right now. i meant right right now. we've got two middle classics on tap. no wait: three! whoa! three really! ... we've got *COMFORT ALE*, our blended-yeast american wheat ale, which benefits the *comfort station of logan square*. and which we're sending out into the world. to be judged. and thought about. this week.

we've got *SABRO CRUSH*. which i've talked about at length now. and so i won't bore you with discussion of it again. but shit... it's truly something. coconut. cotton candy. A CARNIVAL IPA. but without the novelty shit that you find in so many ipas these days. it's just that sabro, bro.

but as of today. meet *SHIELDS*. our brand new nitro session stout. it's a creamer. i mean, it's poured through a creamer. it's got a wild couple fingers of foam head on it. perfectly white and tan all around. it's 3.5abv. it's roasted. it's a finishing beer. it's a waiting beer. like, "i'm waiting for my friend to get here and i'm just gonna sit here at the bar stool and pretend to read but mostly look at my reflection in the oven or maybe i'll just stare outside and think about why i called my bus driver "jam" instead of "sam" cuz i know his name is sam but i was just thinking really intensely about something else when he said "bye pete" and i could hardly get the word "bye" out of my mouth much less "sam" and he should be lucky it was "jam" and not something accidentally misogynist or that i didn't spit on him in a mad stutter". it's the perfect beer for thinking about that. while pretending to read a murakami book. so your server thinks you're interesting. 

oh! and it's one of those beers that's immune to weather. meaning, if it's sunny, it's good as a sort of call-forward to cold-brew coffee. or a sun-comes-up beer. and if it's rainy, you could pretend you're british. don't start speaking in a british accent, though. i mean, you could think in a british accent. you could lightly whisper innocent phrases to yourself in a british accent. like "oil 'ave anuthuh spah' 'uh 'tey". which might be kiwi or afrikaans or something. but it probably rains just as much in those places. so you could drink this beer while you're doing that, too. 

sun or rain! or wind or snow or sleet or anxiety! *SHIELDS* is for you! a nitro session stout, *SHIELDS* is almost human in it's friendliness! come to middle brow bungalow and drink a human!

fresh fridays! at bungalow by middle brow!


to be lost.

there's something a bit odd about so many restaurants in the world. in the city, even. in your suburb, even. the lack of good beer. or, rather, the ascendance of good-but-stale beer brands. i won't name them in particular. but they're brands that are perfectly solid. just, they've been around for 15 years or more. and we've all drank a million of them.

which is odd. polly and i went to a restaurant the other night to watch our own brewpub on the security cameras. it was quite fun. like watching *slow tv*. that weird nordic thing. ... "wait, why is marjie talking to that guy for so long? is there a problem? did we get his order wrong? oh no! wait! i know that guy! he's probably saying "is pete here?" and she's probably explaining that we left a bit early to take the night off. ok. phew. ... now why are gretchen and marjie looking through the garbage? i bet she lost the merchant copy of a receipt."

and the restaurant is killer! we love it! every stinkin' hipster in the logan square loves it. srsly. some of our staff used to work there, even. and they have moderately expensive food sourced from all sorts of midwestern farms. and some beautiful wines. hip and new and exciting and natural. but then you get to their beer list, and it's stale as fuck!!! it's just so out of place on the menu. ... i love reissdorf kolsch as much as the next kolsch-lover. it's a classic. but to stock only classics and long-time chicago-ish brands. when there are so many new and exciting craft brands in this city. and in the midwest more broadly (check out rolling meadows farm when you get a chance. and transient artisan ales; our boy chris in bridgman michigan. and scratch! and whiner!). that's daft! there's so much missing from these beer menus!

i guess it comes down to this: natural wine drinkers and cocktail drinkers and fancy food eaters. and weirdo tea snobs: demand more interesting beer! challenge your palate with beer the same way you do everything else.

the left drop.

we talked last week about supporting dems everywhere who had courage. who weren't all spineless and skerred to support policies that the vast majority of their voting base strongly supports.

what we mean to say is: every drop counts. 

we think a lot about why we do what we do. about why we host free breakfasts. about why we were so willing to donate more than 50% of our profits to chicago charitable orgs for so long. and it ain't cuz our donations helped those orgs to add new programming or hire new staff: the donations most certainly did not. we're a tiny little beer company! it's because every drop counts. and every drop counts because one drop seems to attract other drops. and the eventually drops turn into tidal waves.

so: we host a free breakfast. and then maybe our neighbor restaurant helps us on our next free breakfast. and maybe in a year they're hosting their own version of it. 

same goes for politics. start small. support courageous people. *show*  your friends and neighbors what it means to be an ethical, good citizen. argue on facebook. go to protests. *be public* about your social justice work. about small donations to community-oriented organizations. ... not only might your vote or your donation or your decision be meaningful in an of itself (per se), but it might influence just the right number of people to follow suit.

first, it's about knowing that you're just a drop. then it's about proudly being exactly the drop you want to be. and then, through your knowing and being, it's about creating other similar drops.

david mitchell put it best at the end of cloud atlas:

"my recent adventures have made me quite the philosopher, especially at night, when I hear naught but the stream grinding boulders into pebbles through an unhurried eternity. my thoughts flow thus. scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. my belief runs contrary, however. to wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes.
what precipitates outcomes? vicious acts & virtuous acts.
what precipitates acts? belief.
belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world. if we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history's horroxes, boerhaaves & gooses shall prevail. uou & i, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. what of it if our consciences itch? why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? why fight the 'natural' (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?
why? Because of this: - one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. in an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.
is this the entropy written within our nature?
if we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the earth & its oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. i am not deceived. it is the hardest of worlds to make real. tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen or a vainglorious general's sword.
a life spent shaping a world i want jackson to inherit, not one i fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. upon my return to san francisco, i shall pledge myself to the abolitionist cause, because i owe my life to a self-freed slave & because i must begin somewhere.
i hear my father-in-law's response. 'oho, fine, whiggish sentiments, adam. but don't tell me about justice! ride to tennessee on an ass & convince the red-necks that they are merely white-washed negroes & their negroes are black-washed whites! sail to the old world, tell 'em their imperial slaves' rights are as inalienable as the [kwain] of belgium's! oh, you'll grow hoarse, poor & grey in caucuses! you'll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! crucified! naive, dreaming adam. he who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!'
yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?" david mitchell.

"and then rush to meet your lover. and play with real fire 'til the dawn". willie.

hunting for good, generally.


and then. cuz we can hardly go more than 24h without an event. we're hosting the uppers and downers d-caf party. uppers and downers, see, is a coffee-beer festival. thrown by good beer hunting. at thalia hall. year after year after year. it's a pretty special festival. which always nets a special crop of participants. who do some truly night-bird shit with coffee and beer. wait 'til you see cruz blanca's offerings this year. i ain't sure, but i think they saved coffee chaff for a year, took it out to their farm and controlled-burnt it. distilled the essence into an oil. and titrated the tiniest drop into a strong wort-stained mixed ferm sparkling tea. jk jk jk jk jk jkjkjk. that's a lie. but the point is: they did some nuts shit. so if your brain can handle coffee better than mine can, get your hyper-fast fingers onto this link here. and buy a couple tickets for you and the other person that comes out of you when drink coffee. ..... what? that doesn't happen to you? mine's all extra-hyper and mean and rasp of voice. pale-er. older. smarter ass. he's like my miser neighbor. only sorta fun to be around. but unavoidable.

but there's also a whole wagon-full of events associated with it. like the charity dinner, which benefits green city market (more on the market next week. ;) ...). we're teaming up with mindy segal for that dinner. 'bout to hop on the phone with her, actually. 

and then the super important and fun decaf event! it's where all these breweries that've been all hyped on coffee/beer combos for the past few weeks chill out a bit. and just drink beer/beer combos. ... we've got allagash. and guinness. and hopewell. and rolling meadows farm. and last, but very much not least, our pals at cruz blanca. taking over our guests taps for the night. tap list tbd. but you shouldn't miss the party. cuz we maaayyyyyy be tapping a nitro session stout. and our first foeder beer. no rules. 

no promises. 

thurs. mar 28. open to the (brew)pubic.

come in for comfort

and then! and then! and then! two days later. this coming tuesday. we're throwing a big party here at the brewery. at bungalow. to launch a beer we made with *comfort station* in logan square. it's called *COMFORT ALE*. and it's a blended-yeast american wheat ale. dry-hopped with loral and simcoe. for the spicy-sweet nose. and that classic americana citrus-tea palate. perfect for the upcoming winter-spring transition.

our party is stacked tho. you herd? (digression: far too many people "heard" these days who did not, actually, hear anything. herd might fit better here anyway. what with all the sheep-y shit we're asking of you.) 

fo sirst: we've got jordan martins spinning brazilian records for a spin. there's some brazilian programming coming up at *comfort station* this year, and so we're staying mega on-theme for the launch party. natch: there'll be a brazilian musical performance. and a brazilian background-screening of some sort. 

so, like, way far out art. happening here. tuesday night. 6-9p. and pizza snacks 'til they're gone. and a cash bar. ALL TO BENEFIT COMFORT STATION'S KILLER YEAR LONG PROGRAMMING. some of the proceeds from every *COMFORT ALE* glass sold go to that killer crew of lovers and creators.


wild wines and pizza pies

hey big beer bro! ever drink wan?! or is it too high brow for ya? or too feminine? (wine = feminine????? wtf?? tell that to lou ferrigno.) 

ok fine. i'll meet you where you are. if wan is too stiff for you. then you should try natch wan. (translation table: wan = wine; natch = natural.) natch wan is wild. it's like wild beer, sorta. it's sometimes got brett on it. it's got a little more earth to it. soil. strawberry mambas. acidity. beets. rocks. smooth grape. 

it's often associated with the word glou. or glug. or soif. it's just about crushing. about drinking wine to enjoy it. like when craft beer bros got really into pilsners a couple years ago. like the way all of craft beer is going lower abv. 

it's also got a way-craft-beer thing going on. where weirdo flavors are appealing. where super identifiable aromas are valuable. it ain't like classic, traditional wines. all subtle and hard to talk about and shit. it's dumb and easy like beer. 

so what's that all mean? we beer bros should all be drinking the shit out of it!!!! 

and here: you can do, too! by attending third coast soif this sunday. ONE DAY AFTER FREE BREAKFAST. or, if you ain't got tickets yet and it's sold out, by attending one off the *off soif* events. including our very own off/post-soif pizza party! (see graphic above.)

we'll be attending soif as a collaborator. pouring some of our beers. and also a beer-wine blend that we're making later today with evan lewandowksi of ruth lewandowksi wines out of utah/mendocino. a super cool yes-dude. ready to bear down and experiment with unlikely shit for the sake of experimentation. so, if you got tix, come see us. give your palate a break with our lager. and then hip it up with our blend. 

BUT THEN........ then. whether you got soif tix or not tix. you gotta come to our *OFF/POST-SOIF PIZZA PARTY* sunday night. cuz what's better for a wine belly than a bunch of subtly acidic, earthy pizza dough? and umami mushroom cream sauce? eh? nothing.

and anyway. we'll have wild wines by martha stoumen. smockshop band. lammidia. absentee. ruth lewandowski. and the *MIDDLE BROW RUTH LEWANDOWSKI BEER-WINE BLEND*. 

we'll be pouring tasting-size pours. and full glass pours. 'til it all wears. so come early. and order often.

free breakfast

tomorrow. saturday march 23d. we're hosting our second *FREE BREAKFAST* at *BUNGALOW by MIDDLE BROW*. free breakfast is precisely what it sounds like: free. breakfast. ... it's meant for CPS students who might not get all three meals on a weekend that they get on a school day. it's also meant for their sisters and brothers and cousins and moms and dads: some of the families who've been living in our neighborhood for generations are headed by men and women who have to work 2-3 jobs to keep up with rent. that includes working on the weekends. which means it ain't easy to make at least one of the three meals they'd otherwise make for their kiddos.

and we recognize that not all of us are so lucky.

and so we make breakfast for those families. and (newly this week) their teachers. so if you know any families that fit that bill. or teachers. please send them our way tomorrow morning between 9 and 11.

and thank them for making our communities cool.


new beer notice


another new another-able beer! this time it's an accidentally hazy brut ipa. whoa whoa whoa there. what's a brut?! a wine beer? a wine-beer? a grape-y wine-beer? 

it's been awhile, so i'll take you back to square one: brut ipas evolved naturally from the overdone hazy bulky-big middling ipa. i say middling not because we at middle brow brewed them often and i fucking LOVE the word middle. and the concept of middle. we didn't really brew them that often. ... i say middling instead because i think the vast, vast majority of them were sorta middling. fun, sure. sweet and wild and new, yes. exciting in that regard. hard not to drink in that regard. but hard *to* drink, all the while. so overloaded with sweetness and bulkiness that we'd get all full of bel after half a one.

and then a sweet man in san francisco added an enzyme to an ipa he made and made a brut ipa. a super-done dry-ass beer. almost body-less. body-void. i've spoken 'bout 'em before. we've been making them lots this past year. we've gotten some major accolades from breweries around town. "some people say" is a turn fox news uses to make you think one of their opinions is widely held. but i'm gonna use it here: "some people say" we make one of the best brut ipas in the city.

and we've got our first brewpub brut ready to roll! we tapped it last night. meet rakau brut: a blended-yeast brut ipa with big league chew grape all over the fucking place. we promise that the word "brut" had no influence on our choosing a grape-y hop for this brut. first, that's way too obvious for us. just ain't our style. second, though: we've made like 7 so far! and this is the first time we've incorporated a grape dig in the thing. but whoa are we happy we did. add a little haze to the eye. and you've got yourself a downright confusing-ass beer. zactly as we like 'em.

so come on down and drink a drink of rakau brut brut ipa. it's waiting in a glass for you. a wine glass. BUT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WORD BRUT. it's just cuz the nose is subtle. like a wine. BUT NOT CUZ IT'S A BEER THAT'S LIKE A WINE. it's more a function of the hop crop.

like a really subtle big league chew. or grape bubble yum. ooof. my jaw hurts just thinkin' 'bout 'em. 

fresh fridays! at bungalow by middle brow! (thx andrew.)

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!


new beer notice


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!



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?


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