CAF: Open House Chicago – 2014

Edgewater Beach Apartments
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Last Saturday Julie and I took advantage of the Chicago Architecture Foundation‘s Open House Chicago and made it to six locations. Once again the weather was pretty rough but we had a mapped out a plan and kept moving.

We started at the Edgewater Beach Apartments on the far Northside of the city. The building was completed in 1928 as part of the Edgewater Beach Hotel. The building has been well maintained and has many of the original features including the indoor pool.

Polish General Consulate
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We had to make an appointment for our next stop at the Polish General Consulate Chicago. The Consulate is housed in one of the seven remaining Lake Shore Drive mansions.

The Allerton Hotel’s Tip Top Tap
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The Allerton Hotel’s Tip Top Tap room was probably the only dissapointment of the day. The Tip Top Tap used to be a lounge but is currently just an event space. The views aren’t that good because of how the windows are situation and other than that is simply and empty room.

The Blackstone Hotel
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The Blackstone Hotel had opened their Presidential Suite which has actually been used by many a President over the years.

Hilton Chicago (Formerly the Stevens Hotel)
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The Hilton Chicago Hotel which was originally the Stevens Hotel opened one of their two Imperial Suites for the tour. The suite is located on the top of the Hotel with views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park.

Cliff Dwellers Club
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The Cliff Dwellers Club is located on the top of the Borg Warner Building on Michigan Avenue. The club has a roof deck patio that looks out over Grant Park.

Side Notes:
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*  With Julie’s CAF Membership we were able to access the Member’s Only sites as well as skip all of the lines at any sites.  This really is key if you’re trying to make a day of Open House Chicago.
** Julie’s photographs are here.

Homebrew Harvest 2014

Earlier this month was our 3rd Annual Homebrew Harvest. This year we had four sets of brewers and a total of 7 different beers. As has been the case the past couple of years we had a good turnout with around 30 people throughout the evening. Most of the beer was drank and nearly all the food was eaten. We also had a couple different screen setup for football watching throughout the evening.


I’m a little biased but I believe the beer has gotten better and more diverse as the years have gone on. As usual the food selection everyone brought was great.

We hope to see everyone this time next year.

Columbus to Gary and Back.

Four String Brewery
Columbus has had a recent explosion in breweries like most decent sized cites have in the past five years. One of the newer breweries that we stopped by was Four String Brewing which is one of two breweries in Grandview.** Four String is clearly focusing on producing beer instead of building out their space. They are located in a small industrial building which has a couple high-top tables and a small bar. There was a food truck outside for most of the evening (this is a thing at almost all of the Columbus breweries). They had a wide selection of beers and sold growlers as well as canned beer to go. I tried the Big Star White IPA and the Brass Knuckle which was a pale ale. I must say the Wheat based IPA’s are growing on me. We were also able to get some sliders and homemade chips from the OH! Burger food truck which were great. They are working on a plan to eventually distribute their chips.

Fishing the Mad River
Saturday morning my dad and I headed up to the Mad River near Urbana, Ohio for some trout fishing. At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve never caught a fish on the Mad River but then again I haven’t really caught a lot of fish anywhere in my life.  This year I didn’t step more than three inches into the river before I noticed my left waiter was taking on water.  After about 20 minutes it was just about full.  Later my dad inquired about which foot had the leak and mentioned that he had a spare left foot waiter at home because of a leak that pairs right foot. After further research I do recall the right foot leaking a couple years back.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewery
Before heading home (and to Gary) we stopped at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing for brunch Sunday morning. We made a reservation ahead of time and got a table for 10:30am right before the post church crowd rolled in. The food was really good; the Ridge Trail pale ale I had was one of the better beers I had all weekend. The picture above is the maple bacon french toast that Julie ordered. The brewery is located right in downtown Columbus which is pretty much a dead zone for any kind of food/night life for as long as I can remember. I was really impressed with the place.

Gary, Indiana
This past Spring I had read about 18th Street Brewery opening up in Gary and I wanted to make a stop this summer. The brewery is located in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary and is within walking distance of the South Shore Line Miller stop. We stopped by on our way back from Ohio but just as easily could have taken the train. When we arrived there was a couple of bands playing in the lot behind the building and the place was packed. They ended up running out of food and the bar was swamped most of the afternoon. I tried the Villain which is an IPA and Candi Crushable their Pale Ale, both were really good. The rest of their list seemed to be heavy on the wheat/session beers. They also had some guest taps from 3Floyds as well as a bottles from Mikkeller.

When in Rome. We took the five minute drive over to see Michael Jackson‘s childhood home. It’s a small house by any stretch. There was a tour bus idling behind the house and about eight other people checking out the building from the street. The neighborhood has seen better days.

On the way out of town we passed the Palace Theater which has been boarded up since the early 1970’s.

Side Notes:

* We were able to pick up Yuengling’s Ice Cream while in town.  The ice cream company was started by David Yuengling, a cousin of brewery owner Dick Yuengling and great-grandson of Frank D. Yuengling who started the original ice cream company 94 years ago.
** We stopped by Zauber Brewing and they were out of their beer. I guess this is typical for them.
*** Last time I was on the Mad River I didn’t catch anything either.