My last day in Chicago starts as all the others: with me stuffing bacon and eggs into my face in the hotel restaurant. Or gastropub, as it likes to bill itself.
I spend the last couple of hours before checkout watching crap TV, fiddling on my laptop and sipping Laphroaig. All the things one typically does when alone in a hotel room. At least that’s what I do.
One problem with such a short trip. Not really time to get through a full litre of Laphroaig. Leaving me with a dilemma: knock it back now or sling it? Neither seems very satisfactory. Then I have a brainwave.
I nip downstairs to the shop and buy a half litre of diet cola. I drink half and replace with whisky. Voila – a drink I can take to the airport with me. It makes me feel much happier knowing no Laphroaig will be wasted today.
I leave my bags in the hotel after checking out a go for a little sightseeing. Being a big fan of early skyscrapers, I really can’t pass up this chance to get a look at some of the earliest. Michigan Avenue, where some of the finest stand, is only a couple of blocks away.
I wander amongst the improbable gothic towers for a while snapping some snaps while looking up in awe. My word well is pretty dry. You’ll have to make do with just the pictures.
I can’t be arsed to travel very far. But I do need some farewell pints and some scran. I head to Rock Bottom. Not the most exciting or cutting edge of places. But I couldn’t give a toss about that. Trailing edge will do me fine. All I need is some decent beer and food to soak it up.
Running down the clock on my trip. It’s been a load of fun. Finally got to see downtown Chicago. Some old skyscrapers and a sort of Manhattan vibe, without the totally crazy chaos.
Got myself a
Rock Bottom Terminal Stout, 6.5% ABV, OG 18.2º, IBU 50
As black as Darth Vader’s heart grilled to charcoal, tan head. Looks the part. Very roasty. Like sucking on Darth Vader’s charcoaled heart. Quite nice, though.
Been no time to take notes until now. Too busy. The gig went pretty well. And I shifted some books. There’s nothing like getting a whole room to laugh out loud. I felt knacked before going on, but the applause and laughter soon got the adrenalin flowing.
I think I’m genuinely good at this public speaking lark. At first, I used to have a script in my hand as I spoke. As a reassurance, I guess, as I never looked at it.
Hope I get through Dutch customs OK. I’ve three bottles of bourbon. You already know the story of how that happened. Andrew is a very lucky young man.
Mike’s been my tour guide, taking me around pubs and breweries. It’s odd – and a little scary – how many people know who I am Quite sweet how some think I make a living out of this malarkey. Maybe I should. But I might have to live in the US.
I could imagine living over here again for a couple of years. Never thought I’d say that. Don’t know where, though. Much as I like Chicago and Boston, the weather would drive me nuts. Maybe Portland or Seattle. I can cope with rain. Just not extreme heat and cold.
Did I mention that I really like Chicago? I really like Chicago. Though the constant sirens and cop coptors overhead can be a little unnerving.
Rock Bottom Hop Bomb IPA, 6.8% ABV, OG 15º, IBU 70
I ordered this despite it containing Mosaic (as well as Chinook). Bit murky looking and a slightly scummy head. Smells like the wet Chinooks the other day. Has that Izal Mosaic thing, though not too overpoweringly.
Only $10 for my very good burger and chips. You’re looking at around double that in Amsterdam
I pick my bags up at the hotel and jump in a cab. As we weave through Chicago, I take the occasional swig of my special coke.
“Nice smell,” my driver says “is that bourbon?”
He nods approvingly. Pretty sure what I’m doing is illegal. But the driver doesn’t seem to mind.
I finish off my special drink in the queue for security. Which happily isn’t too long. For some reason I’m not in such urgent need of an airside bar. So I don’t bother. Instead I buy some dim sum for the flight. I like to make sure I get something decent in me on the way back over the Atlantic. You never know what an airline is going to serve you.
I get my head down straight after the last drinks round. I soon nod off, even without the help of Mr. Laphroaig. I need some kip. Four hours after landing I’m being driven to Margate. What an exciting life I lead.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
1 W Grand Ave,
Chicago, IL 60610.
Disclaimer: my trip was paid for by Goose Island as part of my consultancy fee.
Understanding Hop Aromas and Flavors - We have a very special episode of the Beervana Podcast for you this week, and I want to tease it by quoting from a section of the interview. Patrick and I ...
29 minutes ago