snOMG-ed Under With Four Moon Tavern, Surly & Hinterland

In Beer News by Ryan

I’m guessing you have already heard by now that Chicago got a crap-ton of snow a week ago today.  20 inches of snow fell on the city making it the third largest snowfall in Chicago’s history.  Snowtorious BIG shut down Lake Shore Drive for a day-and-a-half , it paralyzed both O’Hare Airport and Midway Airport and it made just about every road in the Chicago area impassable.

photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of people waited helplessly in their cars along Lake Shore Drive for hours before helped arrived.  Others hunkered down in their homes with candles lit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in hand.  My wife and I, well, we did what seemed like the only logical thing to do in a blizzard; we went to a bar.  This is our harrowing tale of sampling never-before-drank brown ales, wading through ankle deep snow and waking up to buried cars, coffee and a laptop in which to work from home with.

The weather czars had been warning us for days that we were going to get dumped on, but no one really believed them until Tuesday morning.  Around noon the exodus from the city began.  Private sector offices closed early followed by county, city and state offices.  The typical five o’clock rush hour started at three o’clock.  The street outside of my office building in River North was backed up around the corner with cars waiting to get on an already overcrowded Kennedy Expressway.  The CTA trains and buses were no better.  I watched the dismay and frustration play out on twitter as public transit riders couldn’t catch a bus or squeeze on to a train.

So, I waited till about 4:45 to leave work and found the streets along my walk to the El to be a ghost town; no cars, no people, no dogs – just snow.  Thankfully there was no hour-long wait to catch a train.  I managed to catch the second one that came by and also lucked in to being on the same train, but not the same car, as my wife.  We hatched our plan over blackberry messenger batting around ideas like cross country skiing to the grocery store, building an igloo or sledding down our back steps.  We eventually settled on drinking.

We’re fortunate enough to live close to a great neighborhood bar in Roscoe Village called the Four Moon Tavern.

Their beer selection is always good, and sometimes great.  I’m always guaranteed to find at least three or four of my go-to beers from Two Brothers or Founders and I’ve even stumbled in to gems like Surly Four.  The food is excellent with a focus on comfort food.  They make some mean meatloaf.  If you go on Wednesday’s get the gigantic burrito.  And if you dig weekend brunch then go on Saturday or Sunday and choose from two different breakfast quiches.

Kicking the snow off our feet as we walked in, my wife and I chose a table near the door with a good view of the rapidly falling snow and the people venturing out in to the blizzard, but just far enough away to avoid the draft when the door opened and closed.  Surprisingly they were pretty busy when we walked in and only got busier as the night went on.  Watching the wind-whipped snow put is in the mood for something warm and comforting, for me it was in the form of an Old Brown Dog from Smuttynose and for her Founders Double Trouble.  The sweet, roasted and bold malts of the Old Brown Dog went perfect with the winter weather outside and the 9% ABV of Founders imperial IPA helped my wife forget about her cold feet and frozen fingertips.

One beer in and we were starting to see more snow out the window and less of everything else – which meant we needed another beer.  This time around I went with something a little heavier; Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout.  This is an intriguing beer to me because it’s pretty high in ABV at a hair over 9% but it doesn’t taste the least bit boozy.  It is also a bit lighter in body and creamier than most imperial stouts I’ve had.  The semisweet chocolate, brown sugar and coffee flavors of this beer, and its dry finish, paired great with my chili.   My wife decided to scale things back a bit after the bracingly hoppy Double Trouble with Ska’s winter offering, Euphoria.  Most breweries go for a dark, sweet beer in the winter but not Ska.  They come out with a crisp, clean pale ale that balances grapefruit, pineapple and citrus hops with a malt-filled toffee finish.

Knowing we did actually have to work tomorrow, albeit from home, we decided to wrap things up with a Three Floyds Robert The Bruce (smooth and sweet) and a Founders Pale Ale (piney and citrusy) respectively before venturing out in to snowmageddon.

It was a windy, snowy, slippery runny-nose-inducing walk home – which, thankfully, was not too far from Four Moon.  We sloshed down the sidewalk for a bit, shuffled up the steps and in to our apartment to find the heat still on, the TV still working and beer still in the fridge.  Success was ours.  So we settled in for the night listening to the wind howl, watching the snow obscure our view of homes across the street and dipping in to a small collection of Surly beers compliments of our friend Adam (@radstarr).

In the morning we awoke to this:

That’s a car.  It’s buried under 20 inches of snow plus whatever the plows pushed in to it and on top of it.  Most cars along our block looked like this.  The sidewalks had drifts over knee high forcing the few brave souls we saw walking to the El to trudge through the mostly unplowed street.  People and plow watching out the front window and cracking open the back door to see the snow drifts on our back deck constituted the highlight of our day.  Coffee was made and consumed.  Calls to both of our respective clients were made.  And after five o’clock (honest) the first beer of the day was cracked.  And what better way to commemorate this snOMG event than with a beer a received in a trade from Frequent Commenter Ben – Hinterland’s Winter Land.

This beer, “brewed with juniper berry,” poured an opaque black in color with a khaki, tan head that sat comfortably atop this beer.  The nose gave off lightly roasted coffee beans, peanut butter, chocolate, wood shop and saw dust.  Chocolate and coffee dominated the palate with a subtle warming spices and a very pleasant carbonation.  This beer drank very smooth.  And once it warms a tad the juniper berries pop in to the finish.

We had grander plans for this day.  The wife and I stumbled across a surprisingly reasonably priced mini-keg of Bell’s Hopslam a week prior and thought this would be a good time to split that with Karl and his wife.  Sadly we could not procure the necessary sled and dogs to get us from Roscoe Village to Lincoln Square.  We’ll make sure to plan better for the next snowpocalypse.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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