Hello again, fellow roadies! This weekend, route roadies in Chicago are blessed with a full two days’ worth of worthy events (that’s in addition to everything else going on in the immediate area, like the special exhibits at the Art Institute and the usual tours at the top of the Sears Tower, etc.). First up today is the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, a don’t-miss, no-admission event in Illinois as it is second in size only to the Mother Road Festival in downstate Springfield. Flashy vehicles, food and fun, and did we mention it’s FREE? Yessir! Be there, or be square. Berwyn is the second suburb you encounter outside Chicago when traveling Route 66, one whose civic leaders very consciously promote Route 66 – and Berwyn’s history on the route – all year long. It’s also home to the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, which is one of the co-sponsors of the car show.
Then there’s the first annual CineFest in the Douglas Park area of Chicago, a weekend-long celebration of feature-length movies and TV series filmed in Chicago (many of which have been at least partially produced at fest sponsor Cinestage Chicago). And perhaps the best part of that festival is that the beverages of choice will be brewskis supplied by next-door neighbor Lagunitas-Chicago brewery, Chicago’s largest craft beer producer. Cinestage Chicago occupies the historic former Ryerson Steel campus, which is located between Western Avenue on the easternmost end and Washtenaw Avenue on the west, Route 66/Ogden Avenue on the north and the railroad viaduct that runs on an angle roughly between 17th to 18th Streets and parallel to Ogden. In fact, Lagunitas itself is in a former Ryerson warehouse that the brewery rents from Cinestage under a 99-year lease. So you have history all around you at both of these events this weekend.
In fact, our suggestion is that you attend the car show today and CineFest tomorrow – work them both in, if you can, then dine somewhere on the route afterwards.
It was more of a party than a book signing. Chicagoan Tony McGee, CEO of Lagunitas Brewing Co., invited patrons over to the Lagunitas Chicago outpost at 2607 W. 17th St. to preview his new book, So You Want to Start a Brewery?: The Lagunitas Story. It came out October 1 and is available online and even in a Kindle edition. The book signing was on a Tuesday (October 21), which was unusual because the brewery typically reserves the taproom Monday and Tuesday nights for free use by local not-for-profit organizations. However, when you’re the boss, you get to party when you want. And since Joe seems to be our party guy lately, we sent him to cover the event.
Starting at 6:30 pm, folks started pouring into the tasting room, aka The Basement, a room designed for private parties with a variety of eclectic furnishings. When a huge banner the brewery had printed was too heavy to actually hang on the front of the building, Tony & company cleverly used it to partition a playroom from one section of the brewery floor. It’s a fun-looking place with a variety of toys, including a Lagunitas Barbie and two very cute company-logo toy trucks (see slideshow for views and details).
In case you don’t follow Lagunitas Brewing Company’s CEO, the Chicago born-and-bred Tony Magee on Twitter, tonight is the new Douglas Park brewery’s grand opening for its tap room & beer sanctuary at 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave. in Chicago. The tap room entrance is through a cool high-tech, LED-lit tunnel that has programmable colors. Yowza! Should be quite a party — there’s a live band scheduled, but you never know: Magee’s own garage band, Alice Drinks The KoolAid, may jam as well (the group played one of the side stages during the recent Chicago Blues Festival). Tour hours for the new brewhouse, meanwhile, are Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am-9pm. Mondays and Tuesdays will be reserved for private parties, charity events, etc.
Lagunitas-Chicago has the largest brewery in the state now, which has resulted in the creation of thousands of local jobs, says a very happy Gov. Pat Quinn, who was at the chain-cutting ceremony last week. The brewery is over on the former Ryerson Steel campus, in a warehouse under long-term lease from Cinestage Chicago, a rentable film production facility that shares the campus.
Who knew that Chicago would be getting so much attention lately? First TripAdvisor’s consumer reviewers’ poll judges Chicago #2 among best destinations in the U.S. and #18 among world destinations. Then we score again on three other TripAdvisor rankings! The bean-shaped CloudGate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park ranked #6 among the Top 10 U.S. Landmarks, whereas Millennium Park itself ranked #3 among the Top 10 U.S. Parks and a surprising (and gratifying) #4 among Top 10 World Parks, ahead of places like the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris (which only ranked 10th)! Whoa — and how timely: this summer’s special activities in Millennium Park, many of which are free, honor the park’s 10th anniversary.
Anish Kapoor’s sculpture CloudGate reflects the city’s skyline at dusk in Millennium Park; and in a pinch, it can also shelter people from a storm. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago dept. of tourism)
Now the business magazine Fast Company tells us that a British real estate management and investment research group analyzed 50 cities around the globe to determine the 10 Most Resilient Cities in the World — and Chicago ranked #4 behind three Canadian cities, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary (i.e., we’re the most resilient of all U.S. cities, and New York didn’t even make the list!). Mind boggling. But we’re glad somebody finally noticed us (maybe the park(s) had something to do with it, you think?).
You think you’re heard everything, and then, whoa – a beer circus!?? Well, it appears to be an annual tradition for Lagunitas Brewing Company at its Petaluma, CA home base. But now that founder and CEO Tony Magee, better known to Twitterati as @LagunitasT, has opened a Chicago brewhouse down in Douglas Park, Lagunitas has finally come home to the Windy City where it belongs. And what better week for a grand opening than Craft Beer Week. Hey, you north side Goose Island guys, look out for the near SW side!
So, even though the Tap Room & Beer Sanctuary (read: brewpub) won’t be ready until some time in June, the grand opening celebrations are beginning already. The beer circus is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.. The $40 ticket price is because it’s a benefit for for Rock For Kids Chicago, which provides music education programs to poor public school children in underserved areas like Lawndale (which is right next door, though technically the park itself is in Lawndale). In addition to the ‘freaktacular’ circus performances will be lots of live music. All we need is cooperative weather. BTW, visitors are encouraged to come in costume (you always wanted to be the ringmaster or sword swallower, right?).
It’s 2014 and we’re baa-ack! Yes, we know: we’re a bit late in returning after the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-solstice-Christmas-Kwanzaa-New Year-MLK-Super Bowl hiatus, but sue us, we were having a good time with family and friends during the seemingly neverending holiday extravaganza. Got a bit snoozy after all those meat comas and hibernated, sort of. Then we got popsicled by the Polar Vortex and had to break out the serious down – brrrrr! What a rude awakening. But hey, at least we woke up before Groundhog Day, right? Blame it on the chilly season: we’re finally having a Real Winter again in Chicagoland after, what, maybe four decades? Sounds right. I knew that 50-below Eddie Bauer Polar Parka fit for the Himalayas would come in handy some day.
‘Tis the season to stay indoors and warm yourself with Route 66 dreams, if not road trip plans for later in the year. That makes this the perfect time for some Route 66 metro Chicago news updates. We have some tidbits to tease you before we get back to the big stuff in our next post.
Video poker on Route 66; where will it end?? Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska
So you thought we’d mentioned all the local summer events on Route 66 already, did you? But wait – there’s more! This very weekend, on Saturday, July 20 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm, there will be a craft beer tasting on the very lovely rooftop deck of the Joliet Area Historical Museum! The Rooftop Terrace will host a vast array of premium and import beers and ciders from more than a dozen craft brewers. And the view there is fantastic. Imagine: you could be watching the sun set over beautiful (?) downtown Joliet while sipping a handcrafted brewski and enjoying what little breeze there is likely to be, given the sweltering forecast.
Joliet Historical Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center Photo copyright 2012 by Keith Yearman