Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brew England Visits: Chicago, Part IV

So after a good night's rest, we headed downstairs to the Markethouse (our hotel's restaurant) for breakfast. Aside from a good meal, we needed to figure out what we were going to do that day.

See, when we were planning out our trip, we thought it would be funny/cool to rent a car and drive to Milwaukee for a few hours...simply to say we went to Milwaukee. I mean, from what I hear they have some good brewpubs like the Milwaukee Ale House, Milwaukee Brewing Co. and a few others I can't recall. But, aside from beer, I'm not quite sure what else is there. Anyway, we decided that we could get more done if we stayed in Chicago, which is what we did.

After we finished out meals, we headed to the Magnificent Mile to catch the bus. We were on our way to the Sears Tower. Now, technically it is called the Willis Tower, but no respectable long-time Chicagoan will EVER refer to it as anything other than the Sears Tower. It just doesn't happen.

Nevertheless, after a short line for the security check in, we were on the elevator to the pinnacle of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and 5th tallest building in the world.

Here are some quick stats:

From the Skydeck at the top of the Sears Tower is a massive 1,353 feet (412 meters for the metric crowd) from the ground, perched on the 103rd floor, and has a speedy elevator that takes approximately 60 seconds to ascend to the top. The building itself is 1,450 feet tall and 110 stories in all. On a good day, you can see four states. Fortunately it was a mostly clear day, and we could see all of Chicago, and DEFINITELY get an idea for how unbelievably massive Lake Michigan is.

We poked around the deck, which is similar to the Top of the Hub in Boston, and even spent a few quarters trying to find Wrigley Stadium through a view finder (no such luck...).

We also "dared to stand out" onto the Ledge, which is four separate glass boxes which literally allow you to stand over the streets of Chicago.

Notice the Cape Ann Brewing Fisherman's Brew T-shirt!

Now, I'm not scared of heights. Flying is no big deal, and I could handle walking around the Skydeck with no issues; however, I have to admit that going out onto the Ledge is pretty nerve racking. Sure, it has to be safe, but you still get a bit freaked out being that high up without a parachute and being separated from death by only four inches or so of glass. Anyway, it was a great experience and something I'll always remember. Though, I'm sure I'll visit it again some day.

After coming back down to earth, we wanted to visit the Unity Temple, built by the amazing architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which is located in Oak Park. Due to a snafu with our Google Maps app on our Blackberry, we took the bus to a remote location which was really nowhere near it. Thankfully it was the middle of the day, as this was a part of Chicago you probably don't want to find yourself late night.

We gave up hope on finding the Temple, and instead caught a cab to the Goose Island Brew Pub in Wrigleyville for some lunch. Success! It was one of the places on our list we wanted to visit, and we were finally there.

The Goose Island pub was pretty big. You'd figure they'd have to be, considering they're only about 250 feet from historical Wrigley Field. With it only being around 1-2pm, we had no problem bellying up to the bar for lunch and several beers. Sarah ordered the turkey burger, and I got the cheddar burger (both were delicious), so while we waited for the food to come we ordered a beer flight.

The sampler came with a choice of four beers, so we went with the Green Line Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Christmas Ale, and Bourbon County Stout.

L to R: Bourbon County, X-Mas, Nut Brown, Green Line

The Green Line had a nice floral aroma with a slight bitterness, the Nut Brown was malty, and a little sweet, and the Christmas Ale was also sweet, but with a nice spiciness to it. The Bourbon County Stout was something entirely different. This stout is aged in wood barrels, which completely shines through this beer. In fact, it tastes more like bourbon than it does stout...and at 13.5% ABV, it packs a serious punch. Don't be surprised to see it reviewed here soon.

We both ordered another beer before heading back out into the cold.

We thought about going to the Goose Island Clybourn location, but going to Wrigleyville was better as we could also poke around the stadium afterwards. So with our bellies full, and a nice little buzz, we walked over to Wrigley Field.

"Let's Play Two" says Ernie Banks

Unfortunately, legendary Cubs 3rd baseman and color commentator Ron Santo passed away the week prior. His funeral included a lap around Wrigley Field, which was televised on every Chicago news channel that day. We could see about four helicopters while at the Skydeck, flying down Lakeshore Drive towards the ballpark. People had made a shrine along the wall, leaving pictures, cards, and cans of beer.

We even witness a young girl jump out of a car and dart across the street to leave a memento. It was a sad day in Chicago for many sports fans, but we thought the tribute was very nice. I had never heard of Santo prior to going to Chicago, though I had heard the week before that he passed away. But to put it in perspective for Bostonians, it would be as if Jerry Remy passed away.

Before heading to the train station, we walked around and thought of how much fun it must be to go to a Cubs game. They have a Harry Cary's attached to the ballpark (go figure, right?), and have some other cool bars in the area.

We also snapped this Comcast billboard across the street:

We hopped on the Red Line back to downtown, to continue with our antics...

Stay tuned for Chicago, Part V soon!

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