Monday, May 28, 2012


Saturday was Illiana Mayfest at the Lake County Fairgrounds, in Crown Point Indiana. I had been looking forward to this for over a year. My grandfather lives in Crown Point, and I wanted to go last year, but we had somethings come up and were not able to go. If you want to read about last year's Mayfest, you should really check out Hoosier Beer Geeks post.

I can't say that it was perfect weather for a beer fest in an old building with no air conditioning, but it was really a great time. We arrived early so we were able to drive around the square, and check out the fairgrounds a bit. Every time I see the courthouse, I think about all the stories about John Dillinger and his escape from the Crown Point jail. It really is a beautiful building.

Old Lake County Courthouse
The fairgrounds has a lake in it

Water Lilies
Every building on the fairgrounds has it's own unique features, but they are all early 20th century in style, and I couldn't get enough pictures.

Industrial Building

Fine Arts Building. I love those windows

Another picture of the windows

Back of the Fine Arts Building

The Grandstand overlooking the lake

I had never been in an all wood grandstand. All the grandstands, and all the bleachers I have ever been in have been metal. This was such a  cool old-school wooden grandstand, and a great place to hide from the sun on a 90 degree day while we waited for the beer fest to open.

Blake chilling in the grandstands 

Looking right in the grandstand

Exposed wood ceiling in the grandstand

The line for getting into Mayfest wasn't too bad when we got in line, with about 15 minutes to go, but as soon as we got in line, there were 200 people behind us. At least there were people handing out cool water to keep everyone hydrated. Did I mention it was like 90 degrees out?

Industrial Building, where Illiana Mayfest is held

Industrial building as we walked in

Watermelon Wheat
This Watermelon beer smelled fruity and beer-y, and I think it would have made the perfect perfume! It was nice and refreshing on such a hot day.

Rock Bottom's Baltic Porter
This Baltic Porter was really light and smooth. It reminded me of an iced coffee, nice and creamy, and delicious, but not too heavy. I asked the guy who was serving about the Baltic Porter style, becasue I am not familiar with it. He told me that it is a mix of an English style porter and an ale so that it is a little more acidic, but smoother and lighter than a regular porter. I will be trying to find this one to buy for my stash.

This is the shirt we want to buy my father-in-law, who is renown for his ugly  interesting Hawaiian shirts

Bulldog's Brewing Sugar Brown Maple IPA
This was a very interesting beer, because, well I don't like IPA's very much after I had my surgery.  This IPA was sweet enough that it cut the harsh bitterness from the hops. It looks like this was a special batch, because I can't find it on the website, but I will keep looking, because this was really outstanding. I will be trying other brews from Bulldog's after this, no doubt about that.

Blake in the back of the Industrial building taking a break

Blake enjoying the break, and a Vanilla Bourbon beer.
(I think this is a record for the amount of pictures of my husband I have ever gotten in one day)
There were so many good beers that we got to try, and so many missed opportunities for taking pictures of them because I was too busy drinking them. We got to talk to lots of nice people, including the guys at the Beer Geeks table. Blake even bought me a shirt from Crown Brewing (the brewery that graciously set up the event). We may have hung out at Crown Brewing's table for a few minutes so we could sample more of their awesome beers, I loved the Dee-rALE-er, and Blake had AlkoholikA, both of which I will be trying to bring home a growler of next time we are in Hoosier-ville.

Heading home into the sunset.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Date Night

This past Friday I decided that I needed to go out for a drink. I got my mother-in-law to babysit last minute and we decided to go to a local place that claims to have a great craft beer menu on the marquee. I had only been there once before and was pregnant, and we sat outside so I really had no idea what to expect. In my memories, I thought it was nice place, with a good atmosphere, and if they had a craft beer menu, it sounded like the best place to go. I am not really sure where to begin... I sort of wanted a nice night out with my husband, to have a beer and a whiskey and then go home.
Something like this: 

Maybe, I am watching too much Mad Men. However, I think that my disappointment would have been there no matter what.

There were no beer menus, or any menus at the table that we found when we got there. We sat at the table waiting for someone to come and get our drink order for like 10 minutes before I decided to go up to the bar where there were three bartenders, and place my order there. I stood there for another ten minutes while guy after guy got helped (did I mention these were female bartenders dressed like they also worked at Hooters?). When I thought I was going to get served, all THREE of them left... So rather than throw a fit at the bar, I went back to the table.

I sat down for about a minute before another scantily clad waitress came by and this time came up to Blake, like he was Donald Draper, and asked if we needed anything
So, we got our beer menu, and I hurriedly placed my order, having to point to the menu to be sure the waitress understood my beer order, she told me, "The beer menu is so large I can't keep any of it straight". Funny, because she didn't keep the two beers we ordered straight either, bringing Blake a totally different beer than he ordered. To exacerbate the evening, the DJ was playing Golden Oldies all night. I am talking about Simon and Garfunkel, and Elvis. Not exactly the type of music I was expecting. 

The beer menu was okay, about 40 different beers, including "domestic beers" like Bud and Miller. I guess I set my expectations too high. I suppose I was hoping that something other than the $3 Jameson Shots and my wonderful husband as a companion would have made our date night awesome... 

Does anyone know where I can go to have my dream date night? Do I have to travel back in time and find a bar in Manhattan? I have been told by several people that if you are at this particular establishment later in the evening (we left at 10 pm) then it picks up and gets a lot more fun. I suppose I will have to try it again, I am just not in any big rush.

Well, at least the beer was good. I had: 

Summit MaiBock
Summit Brewing Company's MaiBock. I love a good MaiBock, and this was a good one.

Weihenstephaner (It was really dark sorry)
I also had Weihenstephaner Vitus, which was really delicious. It was nice and earthy, with that straight from the barnyard flavor that I love so much. I will be looking for this one again, and hopefully get a better picture.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Since my lovely sister is graduating college in a few weeks (YAAAY!!!) I thought it was a good time to use one of her guest posts about beer, and reminiscing about college life. So, here you go:

PabstBlue Ribbon Beer is a Midwestern staple.  Founded in the bustling town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1844, PBR has stood the test of time and is synonymous with American brewing.  PBR’s “Blue Ribbon” was earned when it won a gold medal during the World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition in 1893, solidifying its place in American beer history as the stuff of legends.  While I could go on and on about PBR’s history, its innovative creation of the “Tall boy” can and the amazing names such as Shlitz and Old Style that have grown from its breweries, my story of PBR is more close to home.  That is to say, you can almost always count on finding it in my home. 

As a college student, a musician, and a Chicagoan, PBR has many attractive qualities to me.  It’s a cheap beer that can be found in almost any liquor store and it doesn’t taste like it was brewed from the scrapings of a factory floor.  I find it to be quite tasty, although I know there are those who would disagree.  For me it’s a taste that is familiar, refreshing, and timeless. 

In my short span of exploring the great world of beer, I have learned that I can always count on PBR.  Whenever I’m tired or indecisive, it’s always there, the perfect 6-pack of glistening Tall Boys individually wrapped in metallic blue ribbons.  More times than I can count I have found myself suddenly entertaining a rowdy bunch of thirsty friends and ended up grabbing a 30 rack of PBR to carry home in my arms like it were my big boxy infant.  Each and every time, it’s turned into a great night with great friends.  I dare not think of the numerous floorboards we’ve strained, stained, and danced on.  Somewhere, the floorboard gods look down on my friends and I with disgust and disdain. 

Summer time is great for PBR as well.  When it’s summer and my days are care-free, PBR can be found in a bucket of ice on my back porch while a guitar or two are being strummed in some aimless melody leading to nowhere in particular.  Where’s there to go when we’ve got all we need right here?

I was lucky to be blessed with a roommate who has shared in my familiarity with PBR.  My roommate Abby, comrade Zach and I once dedicated an entire day watching Tom Hanks films while we tried to find the best PBR bottle caps to make a card deck out of.  We also had the profoundly modest idea of inviting over 100 of our closest friends to our apartment for a party featuring 4 live bands, including our own. PBR was there to keep our guests happy and our show a success.  Together we’ve danced, cheered, and conquered the night with PBR, much to the discontent of several neighbors, a few members of the CPD, and countless unfulfilled obligations the next morning. 

Although the days of awarding Pabst golden medals for taste and innovation have long since past, I still would give PBR a blue ribbon for being PB”Our”.  It feels like our beer, the beer for the end of a long day, a music-filled afternoon on the back porch, or a night of restless youth and debauchery.  Here’s to you, PBR; you were there on my 21st birthday, and you’ve been there for many $5 beer-and-a-shots since.  You keep my friends living wildly, and sweet home Chicago feeling like home.  Cheers.

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