Tag Archives: Beer

We’re Crafty, I Swear

4 Apr

oscarSpring is trying to get into gear here in Chicago however, it was 72 degrees yesterday and is snowing today so I guess that means things are normal and right on track for April. Sigh. Literally 24 hours ago, I was sitting at the lakefront with my hubs after riding over on our two-wheeled vehicles, enjoying a road pop while the sun was warm enough that I removed my jacket. Today however, wool coats and boots prevail. To brighter days though, eh?

Some friends and I started She’s Crafty, a ladies’ beer club in Chicago (only, so far) which meets at least once month. We all have full time jobs and hobbies, so it’s hard to devote the time we should do to promotion, coming up with new event locations and ideas, networking, etc. but the good news is that we’re growing! In about 18 months, we managed to pick up two more regulars and three more semi-frequent attendees, which is better than the odds. The other lady beer groups in town are also national, super organized, and do a lot of ticketed events. Their reach is bigger and their whole system feels much more professional than probably ours does, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We haven’t had any arguments, blowups, issues, or problems to speak of and thanks to a standard welcome policy, I’m told those who join us are excited to do it and most come back. We even managed to scoop up a lady who doesn’t enjoy beer but apparently just likes to hang out with us.

motorNaturally with all planning, some people heavy lift more than others, which happens in every group and organization under the sun. Some really enjoy taking the reigns and dealing with the the minutia, and some frankly, just want to be told where to be and when so long as there’s beer waiting. That’s been challenging for me personally, but it’s the best hobby I’ve ever had and it’s really exciting to see it grow. Two of our girls (not even in the founding five!) met up one evening to participate in bar trivia and named themselves “Team She’s Crafty”. I have to admit that I think I got a little verklempt when I read that. Our buttons have become our calling cards and when they’re handed out, it’s not uncommon to get a new follower or two on Facebook within a day. The more we meet, the more I’m convinced that not having a ticketed or even Very Official style is our selling point. Lots of ladies just want to hang out and enjoy delicious beers with each other, period. No more, no less, thu
s furthering the second credo of: “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. We don’t want to become the kind of ladies’ group that gives them a bad name, and we want the freedom to nip poor behavior in the bud before it festers (a group killer, no doubt).

We don’t have a Grand Plan going forward into 2016 or beyond, we pretty much come up with our events about two months out from each one, once we plot our personal schedules and review the places we want to go (and vetoing places no one wants to deal with getting to) then just see how it plays out. Some breweries and bars are amazing and welcoming, IMG_20160219_162542some seem like they are then our group shows up and are a surprise to the staff, and yet others never respond to our emails or calls at all. There are enough bars and breweries opening in Chicago every month that we’re not running low on places to visit, which when I think about smaller towns, realize that we are incredibly fortunate. We try to plan events with many factors in mind: Decency of beer list obviously, realistic start time, location convenience for those who don’t drive, finances (and methods of payment. We have a ton of cash-only bars around here and they are a pain), plus, of course the second most important element: fun. Our bottle shares are some of the best events we have and something we try to do at least three times a year, everyone looks forward to those.

So there you have it, the State of the Union of She’s Crafty Chicago. Nothing bad to report, and a few good things happening. That’s pretty much ideal, right? Now if we could only get our website built…

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A Common Spoken Valediction or Salutation

2 Mar

You’ve had those spring moments, I’m sure. The first crack of the bat, the first time the air smells like humid warmth, the first ray of sunshine that makes you want to stand in it rather than hurry through it because it’s accompanied by a 4 degree wind chill, the mere glimpse of the first buds, a red red-a-robin-a-bop bop boppin’ along your front walk. Or, in this case, the first whiff of Dogfish Head’s “Namaste”. Just a hint of June, right on the nose.

Their description saves me a lot of typing, so here you go: “A witbier bursting with good karma [I wouldn’t have said that last bit – ed.]. Made with dried organic orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, this Belgian-style white beer is a great thirst quencher.” Preeeeecicely! The essence is undoubtably Belgian (thought much like Champagne, it’s not Belgium beer unless it’s from Belgium thus it’s a “Belgium-style” beer). A bit of butter, a hint of lemon, a nice warm yeasty coat to the tongue, a bright happy hop. In fact, there’s almost a bit of citric sodium in the smell, which is cool and weird. Delightful! Ok, in the interest of disclosure, I’m biased. If I were to drink no other beer for the rest of my natural life it would be Belgian. I could write an entire series on the differences, attractions, downfalls and screwing-up of Belgian beers. (Incidentally, my unnatural life would be populated by heavy IPAs, in the interest of contrast.)

A Belgium in a larger format, you ask? Won’t you be on your ear by the bottom? No, I say. You’re not that lucky, sir. At only 5% in 22oz ($5.99), it can’t do much damage unless you’re a lightweight who hasn’t eaten all day. And you know what? That’s ok because it’s so tasty that it would be a shame to get schnockered on a lovely warm weather beverage such as this.

Speaking of Belgium and its fantastic selection of adult beverages, it’s actually a pretty fascinating endeavor that these generations of monks support themselves solely on the production of beers which happen to be pretty amazing. I mean think about it, how often do you associate the neighborhood church with excellent pastries when they have a bake sale? Not bloody likely. This is an interesting block of information about the standards and practices of the whole shebang, even though it’s Wiki I know it’s accurate.

Also worth checking out are Belgium IPAs. Spicy, citric, just a little buttery. Delightful! And if you’re ever in Chicago, look up Haymarket Brewery and see if they have Angry Birds Belgian Rye IPA tapped because I can promise you that it’s a specimen of the sort and you will not be sorry.

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