730am: It’s Friday the 13th. I step out into the morning sun and encounter Cuffey Dame and Jefferin’ Mink (Roxanne and Tara) on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, coffee in hand. Apparently, after Sheffield’s last night, Tara and Nettied Brightlighter (Ian) teamed up with Sarah to check out Chicago after hours in search of more craft beer. One of the first places they hit up for some good ol’ fashioned drinkin’ food was the Wiener’s Circle. If you’re not familiar with this place, apparently it’s an institution…here’s a funny clip from the Conan O’ Brien show that gives you an idea.
8am Sales meeting is a success. We’re told to meet at Wrigley Field at 1pm. Time for beer!
1130am I meet up on the 3rd floor of the Days Inn with Bill, Ian, Tara and Sarah to share the craft beers I had purchased from the day before, as well as a few selections the others had brought. We start things of with some Great Lakes Brewing Company Dortmunder Lager and a line up of Sixpoint Brewing cans. The Apollo, Sweet Action, and Bengali Tiger were all well crafted and made us jealous of Chicago in the fact we can’t get these back home! The Frangelic Mountain Brown was very impressive–the rich body and hazelnut coffee flavor hid the ABV very well (I admit to drinking most of this while the others were getting ready). Sarah also cracks a bottle of the elusive Bell’s Hopslam (I visited over 20 different stores over the last 3 days and never found any) and we are all impressed with the big hop bite and overall balance. As I turn to pour the Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S, I notice that Brightlighter is tugging at his back pocket. In his wild escapades last night he’s torn a hole in his only pair of shorts. He then proceeds to tear off the entire back pocket, separating it from the shorts and leaving a gaping hole (nice boxers dude!) along the side. We all kind of laugh but that pales in comparison to what unfolds over the next 4 minutes. I wish I had pictures of this but imagine Bill transforming Ian’s only pair of remaining pants into cutoff shorts–while Ian is wearing them! I crack a joke about Ian’s San Francisco roots and give him two snaps up for ingenuity and both of them a verbal high-five for teamwork, cause that’s how we roll.
1215 It’s time to hit the streets and make our way to Wrigley Field. Even though it’s quite warm, we decide to walk. ”Do they allow beer on the streets of Chicago?” I ask the group. I always hope that every city outside of California is like Vegas and you can just have open containers in hand. I pour the rest of my B.O.R.I.S into a plastic hotel cup (covered by a Boonville koozie of course) and we head downstairs and are on our way.
1pm We’re at Wrigley Field! I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world, but I respect the history of where I am right now. The scene is alive with fans and families bustling about…and I have my touristy moment and snap this picture to post on Instagram.
We make our way to the Ron Santo statue as the rallying area to meet up with Trey and get our tickets. As we’re waiting around, the Chicago Cubs mascot “Billy Club” is walking around posing for pictures with various people. I start the debate with the group on who would win the battle between Barkley Boont and Billy Cub. At first it’s a no brainer: Barkley! But what if you gave Billy Cub a bat? That would level the playing field somewhat. I approach Billy Cub and ask him what he thinks as I tell him Barkley’s story and show him a picture. He shrugs his shoulders but as I press him further, he breaks the Mascot Code Of Silence and tells me to follow him on Facebook. I high-five him for the shameless social media plug.
As the sky begins to turn from sunny to gray, we make our way into the stadium. Someone from Instagram tells us that when in Wrigley Field, we must have an Old Style. Well, I’m not going to argue with that! I make my way through the masses and finally find a draft station pouring it. I realize this is a craft beer blog but sometimes you gotta go with the flow. However, at $7 a pop, my cash flow would ensure this was the last Old Style of the day. I make my way back to the upper deck and join the rest of the team eating hot dogs and sippin’ domestic suds (we couldn’t find any craft beer).
Did I mention that today was Friday the 13th? That it was the first time most of us had been to Wrigley Field? The forecast called for rain. We could see the thunderclouds coming. They started rolling the tarp out onto the field. No biggie, just a quick rain delay and we’ll get back into the action right? No such luck. The sky opened up. HARD. Lightning and thunder and rain, rain, rain. There were periods where it would lighten up, but after a while, we decided enough was enough and we had to give up on the game. I hailed the miracle of all taxis and we filled that van to the brim!
4pm After we dry off at the hotel, we decided to meet up at Jakes Pub for some Summer Solstice cans and rally for dinner. Jake’s has a cool dive bar feel but boasts a pretty cool craft beer list in which I immediately noticed Sixpoint Resin! I had been wanting to try this for a while, so I bought a few cans to share with the team along with some Revolution Brewing Double Fist. The dry-hopping in the Double Fist Pale Ale gives it such huge aroma and the forward lupulin bite of Resin satisfies our hop cravings for the time being.
6pm We have dinner at the World Famous Lou Malnati’s (this is not an understatement, the pizza is awesome!) for some great deep dish pizza and good conversations. It’s kind of sad to think that this time tomorrow, I’ll be back in California. I love being part of the Anderson Valley team and catching up with everyone over beers. But what am I talking about? The night is not over!
8pm-3am After dinner, we make our way to Blue Chicago as our final (group) watering hole for the evening. They’ve got several Anderson Valley beers by the bottle, so I go with Belk’s ESB and settle up to a table with Trey and his wife Laura. I’ve had such a great time and look forward to the next “destination” team meeting…Portland? Perhaps Seattle? We hang out for an hour or so, but several of us have early flights and decide to call it an evening. Ian, Tara, Roxanne and I take a taxi back to the hotel but close out the night at Michael Diversey’s and Matisse Tavern for Wild Turkey shots and a few beers. Friends and libations….what a great way to end our Chicago adventure.
Steve Miller is the Steinber Kimmie (Beer Guy) and resident beer runner for Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Social Media, Sales and Marketing are a few of his favorite things. He’s also a pretty decent home brewer, gee-tar picker and disc golfer too. You can follow him @SteinberRunner on Twitter.