I had made plans to meet up with Steve Herberger -- a long-time commenter here, a long-time supporter of non-mainstream beer -- this afternoon at Flatlander's. It was an easy run up Milwaukee Avenue, maybe four minutes from our hotel. As you can maybe tell from Cathy's face, it was quite cold, and breezy. We hustled inside.
Steve was easy to find: the only guy at the bar. We got right to work on the beers as we got caught up for the first time -- this was one of those 'met on the Internet, now meet face-to-face' moments -- and I got the Bitter, Cathy got the Winter Warmer.
Well, they were disappointing. The Winter Warmer had a very disagreeable odor/flavor that reminded me of the smell in a tire warehouse: musty rubber. My bitter was okay, but maybe a bit over-attenuated, maybe a bit tannic, maybe a little astringent...and maybe I'm going easy on it because I really wanted to like it. Then I got a Belgian Golden, and it was thin, and a bit edgy/tart. (As Steve has since pointed out, the pale ale, an American-style, was good, with no issues.) And to be honest, the service wasn't great, particularly for being the only folks at the bar.
So we left. I talked Steve into heading up the road into Libertyville to visit The Firkin. It didn't take much to convince him, and once we got there, I could see why. We weren't there five minutes before Cathy and I started our perennial complaint: "Why isn't this bar near us?"
Don't get me wrong: we have good bars nearby. Well, actually, we have two: Isaac Newton's and the Hulmeville Inn. But The Firkin isn't just the 25 taps and 2 hand-pumps of good beers (click on the last photo to get a look). It's a great-looking place, with character, it's some damned good food that doesn't taste like everybody else's, and snappy servers who know the beer (although the first guy we got didn't know squat; still, he was friendly, and quick to hand out a sample).
Cathy played it safe with a Beamish, I went local and funky with a Goose Island Matilda (delicious), and Steve went even localer (?) with the Emmett's McCarthy's Red, a cask red from a small local brewpub chain. It was damned near the pick of the litter: just tasting fresh as bejayzus, hoppy but not crazy. The sip Steve gave me convinced me to get a full one. Steve, on the other hand, got a Dynamo Copper Lager. Never heard of it? Neither had we. It's from Metropolitan Brewing, a new all-lager production brewery in Chicago.
That's right, I said "all-lager production brewery." Steve and I were geeking out: a new brewery! A new craft brewery that makes all lagers! And the beer wasn't bad. Needs to be cleaned up a little, but it had a good full body, some hop to it, and tasted pretty good. So that was pretty cool. That was about it for us, though: we had to get back in time to get dressed for the rehearsal dinner.
Except we didn't go. We got all dressed up, but Cathy didn't look good. By the time we got to the parking lot of Pete Miller's, she was sweating and shaking. I took her home and put her to bed, and I've been reading a new Spenser book ever since. And blogging. She's feeling better already, so I think we'll be okay tomorrow.