Thursday 27 October 2022

Chicago - Thursday

Scrambled egg for breakfast. We ate the last of the bacon yesterday, sadly. It did last most of the week. Derek has done a wonderful job of cooking breakfast all week. I feel quite guilty, having just sat on my arse the whole time.

Checkout is at ten. Mike knocks on the door at quarter to. We run a quick check that everything is in order. Satisfied, we lug our bags downstairs and dump them in Mike’s car.

We’re off to the brewery. To say our goodbyes. 

We head to the beer deck. The taps inside the brewery where visitors get their samples. Most are taproom beers. 2022 Bourbon County isn’t. At least not yet.

I start with a New Zealand Pilsener. So called because it uses New Zealand hops, with wine-like flavours. It’s very different to an American IPA. Softer and more subtle.

Brewers Emily and Quinn appear. Derek has brought in a Truman brewing book to show them. As he takes them through the various entries, I get myself another beer. But not before Derek teaches me something. He indicates which column is the initial mashing heat.

The beer is a West Coast IPA, at a mighty 7.8%. I pour myself a large sample. As you’d expect, it’s packed with that citrus and tropical fruit stuff that American hops do so well. What can I say? This type of beer had grown on me. Give me another decade and I’ll get a taste for sludge.

At this point my plod through the taps is interrupted by Brooke Hill. 

 Would you like to help working out the order for a Bourbon County Stout tasting?”

“OK, you can twist my arm.” I say with a totally unconvincing lack of enthusiasm.

There are three variations: one meant to resemble biscotti, one loaded with cold-brew coffee, and a tropical variation with banana, pineapple and coconut. And the date version from the tank.

The brewers all place tropical BCS as third to be tasted. The non-brewers coffee BCS. A fun discussion ensues. At least, the snippets I fully understand are fun. As is being out of my depth.

To complicate matter more, the date-infused version we heard about on Monday is added to the mix. Now I’m totally confused as to the best order. I politely finish all the samples. I hate waste. Especially of good beer.

Back to the taps. 1988 Porter is brewed to one of the early brewpub recipes. Malty rather than roasty. An easy-drinking example of the style.

We haven’t got a huge amount of time left. That’s my excuse for jumping to BCS. The base 2022 version. Full of Stouty goodness. And bourbony goodness. A pleasing combination, when done well.

I don’t get chance to knock back – sorry, savour – many. We need to get to the airport. That’s exactly where Mike takes us.

Goodbyes said to Mike, Derek and I part ways to check in. Then join up again to go through security. Which takes forever. Best part of an hour. Leaving me maybe 70 minutes lounge time.

First call is the duty free. Bourbon for Andrew, rum for Alexei. Not the greatest selection, but I find something.

The plan is for Derek to join me in the lounge. But they’re rebuilding and no guests are allowed. Damn.

Once I’m inside, I understand the no guest rule. There’s only room for twenty or so. Unsurprisingly, given the small size, the choice of food and drink isn’t huge. There is free-pour Jim Beam. And decent sandwiches. That’ll do me.

No upgrade, this way. The two seats next to me are empty, however. After a desultory prod at the food and a few slugs of wine, I watch a few episodes of Motherland. Then crash out. Lying down. Not stretched out, but properly horizontal.

I get about four hours kip. Proper kip. That’s about as good as it gets, under the circumstances.

Breakfast is some dry roll with a sliver of egg inside. I can’t even manage half. Just as well they passed out free bottles of water. Without it, I wouldn’t have got any of the roll down.

It’s before 7 AM when we land. Schiphol is unusually quiet. Deserted almost. Only two in front of me in the passport queue. My bag is already on the carousel. This is all working out well.

Glad it is, as I’m feeling a bit weary. Where are the trolleys? I have to lump my bags to the taxi rank.

We bobble along the motorway, through the darkened city.

Dolores has just made tea. Exactly what I need.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I've enjoyed reading your posts about Chicago, Ron. I've only been to the city once, for a long weekend in 2004, and that was mainly a blues and baseball trip, but we managed to get to a craft beer place on the North Side after a Sunday afternoon ballgame at Wrigley Field and drink a few Goose Island IPAs at Rosa's Lounge blues club on the Northwest Side. We also went to Chinatown on the South Side after visiting Chess Records studio on S. Michigan and Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, where a lot of Chicago blues guys are buried, which I suspect few tourists do, mostly sticking to the Loop and Near North Side.