Surlyin’ it up in Chicago

Sheffield’s Bar not far from Wrigley Field turned out to be a perfect neighborhood joint for beginning a sunny afternoon of beer drinking.  Around 9:30 I started walking up Clark from downtown, nothing to do other than work up an appetite.  A cup of tea along the way and a chocolate croissant at the Austrian Bakery was bedding for the lunch time brew onslaught.

It pleased me to see the big Surley pull on the tap line at Sheffield’s.  I had read a good bit about Minnesota’s renown brewery, and was hoping to finally taste it.

Furious.  Surley’s IPA.  I knew when I first tasted it that I would have 2.  I didn’t expect to have 4 though.  But, when the bartender pours you a free one–the fourth one–you have to drink it.  It was the 2nd one and the sunshine and the Cubs game on tv and the fact that it was only me and 2 others in the bar that led me to the 3rd one.  Three Furious strong.  Buzzed.

“Hey, you want another one, on me?”

“Can’t say no to free beer.”

Four Furious, and still nothing to do.

(Notes on Furious:  copper/brown, nice balance of hops/malts, like the hops up front, head looks good, very drinkable beer, lives up to the hype.)

Buzzin’ hard, I walked up Clark past Wrigley, leaving Goose Island for another day, and wandered under the blue sky towards Hop Leaf. 

Eventually I got there, with still nothing to do except drink more beer, and was sitting at the bar around 3:10.  The place opens at 3:00 on Saturdays.  By 3:30, it was standing room only in the front room. 

Look the tap list over.

Surly.  Bender.  A brown ale.  Ok. Not blown away.  (Notes:  dark, not black, light shines through-murky red, sweet on the tongue, finishes hoppy, maybe some chocolate going on, more sweet than I like.)

I asked the one bartender if they had a hand pull. 

“We left that fad a few years ago.  It’s not good for America…we don’t drink warm beer here.  You want hand-pulled beer, go to England.”

Straight up. Unapologetic.

I finished the Bender and ordered a He’brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., a rye imperial IPA.  Upon the first taste, I knew I was in trouble.  Strong alcohol presence.  Lots of hops, earthy with pine and citrus, and a bunch of other stuff going on. 

Buzzing hard.  Walked to the L and made way back downtown.  Grabbed a sandwich, met my wife and friends, and walked to Clark Street Ale House. 

Ordered up Three Floyd’s Rabbid Rabbit, a saison.  Take an orange peel, rub some cinnamon and other autumn-time spices on it, then roll it in wet grass before throwing it through the barn into a hay mow and having it drop into the dung yard below, and you have the Rabbid Rabbit.  I loved it!

And I needed more food.  We found an un-delicious Thai place, and then met up with another friend before going back out.  No more beer for me.  I drank loads of water and had a burger.  The waitress, a sweet middle-aged woman said to me after filling my glass for the 6th time with water:

“You’re dehyrdrated, aren’t you?  Were you at the Cubs game?  Drinking all day?”

“Yes to questions one and three, No to question two.”

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