Monday, 6 May 2019

Monday Goose

I awake to a thunderstorm. The weather has been so shit.

I skip breakfast. I know, it’s the most important meal of the day. But I’ve a fairly early start at Goose Island. And I can’t be arsed to rise early enough to fit brekkie in.

There’s a lightning strike frighteningly nearby. My TV blacks out and I lose my internet connection. Wonderful. But I’ve no time to piss around.

I’m meeting Mike Siegel at 9:30 at the Goose Island tap room on West Fulton Street. I grab a cab and we’re soon rocking and rolling down side streets.

“The traffic is really bad. We’d get held up on the main roads.” The driver explains.

That might be the reason for the condition of the roads. Or maybe not. As we splash our way through giant puddles, it’s like being on amusement park ride. You know, the ones that soak everyone. Luckily the windows are shut tight.

Mike jumps out to greet me as we pull up. He takes me into the deserted and dark tap room where we discuss what’s going down this evening. Thankfully, nothing too effing complicated. Just some fairly unstructured talking. Unstructured – that’s my middle name.* 

Our morning appointment is a podcast at Good Beer Hunting, which is a short walk away. Luckily it’s stopped raining. Though there are still huge puddles to walk around.

I’ve done a podcast with Good Beer Hunting before. When they had a different location. With a nice new little studio, they’re obviously moving up in the world.

I try to avoid hesitation, repetition or deviation. Every audio appearance is like being on Just a Minute, I feel. Luckily, I’m not competing against Kenneth Williams. He’d have whipped my arse. (Ooh, matron.).

Avoiding repetition isn’t easy for me. Just ask Dolores and the kids. As the title of my blog betrays, I do tend to go on about stuff. “You’ve already said that ten times, Ronald. I worry you’re getting Alzheimer’s, honestly.” Is one of her catchphrases.

Mike Kiser seems happy enough with how things roll. Was that really an hour? I must have been talking a lot. Time always seems to go quicker when I’m bullshitting free.

After a quick sojourn back at the brewery, we head over to the Goose brewpub for lunch.

I don’t recognise it. A total rebuild has transformed it since my last visit. Not sure I prefer the new look. My memory could be deceiving me, though.

As our bums drop on bar stools, Mike introduces himself to the waitress. And orders us some peeve.

“A Bock for me, please, Mike.”

We nip into the brew house for a quick look around. It’s changed as much as the pub. Cooler. I remember it being boiling hot last time I as poking around here.

What to eat? I can’t decide, which is annoying. After changing my mind several times – in my head – I finally opt for the duck pot pie. Just as with bacon, you can’t go wrong with a pie. Even if, technically, pot pie is just stew with a pastry lid.

Next beer - Next Coast IPA. It’s all very relaxing. Which is how I like things. I'm an intensely lazy git at heart.

Back at Fulton Street, we hang out on the brewing deck a while. It's my first chance to taste the draught version of Obadiah Poundage. Mmm . .. nice, as they say on Jazz Club.

Hard to tell over the industrial clunking, but that sounds like the theme tune to Germany 1986. Bit bizarre. A programme that speaks so much to me, because I lived through the final days of the DDR. And we were in the Stasi headquarters - where some scenes were filmed - last year.

They open the doors early, at 6 rather than 6:30. Quite a few punters trickle in. By the time it's getting close to showtime, it's pretty packed. This is heartening. Quite attendees I know. Like John Hall, Goose Island founder, and Jeff Renner.

Others I’ve heard of, but never met. Like Liz Garibay. Energetic and enthusiastic, is how I’d describe her. Characteristics which, while fading rapidly in me, I can still appreciate in others.

There’s a chance to try the two beers separately. An uncarbonated keg of each has been kept back. The blend really is better than the sum of its parts. The Keeper is a bit harsh and the Runner a little bland. Combined, you get the best of both: the Keeper’s depth of flavour and Runner’s freshness.

The talk isn’t formal. Just me and Mike and a mike. With Chris acting as MC to keep us in line. Standing up and giving some background on the beer and its brewing. Followed by a Q & A.

Then it's time for the important bit: flogging books. There’s an informal Q & A as I do my tarting thing.

“When did you start writing about beer?”

“Ages ago. Though that's not where my writing really started. It was the letters I composed while living in New York in the mid-1980s that were key. That’s where I acquired my style and tone.”

“Why did you start investigating beer history?”

“Porter kicked it all off. Because the existing books had contradictory accounts of its history. When I realised how much contemporary source material there was, I started researching myself. Initially, old technical literature. Until I discovered how many brewing records had been preserved and were accessible. Then I dived into them. It changed my life.”

It really was a sort of immersive therapy.

When someone asks “Why do you live in Holland?” my minder moves in and says: “Mr. Pattinson doesn’t answer personal questions.”

Not really. “Because I couldn’t face moving back to Thatcher’s Britain.” Though I put it more subtly than that.

And there’s the eternal: “Why is your blog called Shut Up About Barclay Perkins?”

“No idea. I wrote a random word generator program, and that was the only non-obscene five-word phrase it spat out.”

“How much does this book cost?”

“25 dollars.”

Selling books is a good excuse to sit down. I’ve been on my feet far too long today.

It starts a bit slow.  Imagining how I'll fit all the surplus books into my luggage is getting my heart flapping fishily around again. Especially after that bottle broke in my check in bag last time. I don't really want to mix books and beers in one case. Which means having the books in my carry on. The doorstep that is Porter! - of which I have ten copies - is effing heavy. More than I want to lug around the airport.

With every sale, my heart fish flaps a little less. When the remaining pile looks carryable, it escapes back into the open water. No nightmare donkey haul tomorrow.

The crowd is thinning out. Mike comes up and says “You haven’t eaten since lunch. We’ve a food truck outside. Come and get something.”

Sage advice from a wise man. Dori's taco truck is parked right outside.

“What would you like?”

“Let’s go crazy apeshit and have a steak taco.” I’m such a flash bastard.

It's 10 by the time all the chatting is done, and me and Mike are bouncing along Chicago's highways again. God, I feel cream crackered.

We discuss a really, really cool project. About which I can tell you nothing. Mostly, because I'm afraid of it going tits up. Another long-term dream of mine. I don't want to get ahead of myself. More than a decade I've been - mostly incredibly frustratingly - busy with this one. No way I'm going to fuck it up now.

My TV still isn't working. So I watch some of the Modern Life is Goodish I have on my PC to soothe me into sleep. Along with the remnants of my hotel whisky, if I'm being honest. I don't feel guilty. In the whole of the event yesterday, I only got down one (US) pint of Obadiah Poundage. Just too much talking. And feeling really Donald Ducked.

No bacon today. Best fix that tomorrow.

Glen Grant, Hollywood superstar, soothes my achy throat and racy brain.

* I have no middle name. I have contemplated adopting Robert as one, since I’m so often called Rob Pattinson. Just when people are learning to spell my surname correctly, they start getting my first name wrong.


Anonymous said...

I must admit given the way the US has been going lately, I thought that pot pie would involve another member of the hop family...

I did a bit of a double-take at "Germany 86" - FWIW the English translation is Deutschland 86, at least on Channel 4 in the UK. Don't ask me how that works, they translate the names of almost all their other foreign stuff.

OT if you're looking for something to write about or do a recipe for - I was talking to someone about Dinner Ales the other day and realised that although I roughly knew what they were, I didn't really know that much or how they fitted into the genealogy of British beers. Were they just a rebranded AK?

Any chance of Obadiah Poundage making it across to the UK, even if just from their place in Shoreditch?

StuartP said...

'Fatchers Britain' :-)

Daniel said...

This was a great event - picked up two bottles of OP. Went home and ordered the Mild book on sale. Cheers!

Jack said...

I enjoyed this video from Goose Island about the beer:

At one point they show the dark malt being roasted over a fire. Did that give a smokey flavor at all to the beer? I'm interested some day in fire roasting my own someday, and I'm curious if smoke is something I should be aiming for if I'm trying one of the old dark beers in the book of yours I just ordered.

Ron Pattinson said...


the brown malt added some smoke, but not as much as you might expect. Not like deliberately smoked malt.

Ron Pattinson said...


AK, Dinner Ale - all the same thing, really.

Obadiah Poundage should be getting a release in the UK later in the year. As for Deutschland 86, that's just me translating it in my head. We were watching an episode the other day and were 10 minutes in before I realised it was the unsubtitled version.