Tag Archives: beer

photo friday: upanddownandupagain

20 Nov
I thought it was never going  to end. Ever. EVER.

I thought it was never going to end. Ever. EVER.

As you may have guessed, Swede and I spent our honeymoon doing a Circle Tour, which here in the Midwest means driving up through Michigan, across the Upper Peninsula, and back down through Wisconsin. (Or vice versa.) We’ve seen and done a lot in Wisconsin already, so the bulk of our time was concentrated in northern Michigan A) because it’s beautiful (not that Wisconsin isn’t just as lovely), and 2) because they have a lot of breweries there that Swede wanted to check out (annnnnd there’s the real reason).

When we weren’t busy trying new brews, we did actually do things and we were actually active(ish). On the first day of mooning over each other, we hiked Sleeping Bear Dunes. Which, if you’ve ever hiked Sleeping Bear Dunes, you can stop reading right now and go get yourself a congratulatory beer, because you earned it.  I don’t care if you hiked it ten years ago, you earned it.

If you’ve never hiked these dunes, then I highly recommend you doing so. Even though you will want to turn back at least 72 times in the process. And even though you will decide this was a horrible, horrible idea at least 89 times. And even though you’ll say to your new husband, “Jesus Christ, just when I think we’re getting closer, it goes down. And then it goes up again. And it just keeps going down. And up again,” at least 103 times. And you will sweat out all that beer you’ve been sampling on your tour of the state, along with all of the beer you drank in college. And at your wedding. As well as all the wine you’ve ever consumed, which is a lot, because those DC years are pretty hazy. And then you’ll realize, once you reach the shore, with its cool breeze and empty beach, that this side of the lake is not made up up hydrogen and oxygen atoms, so much as it’s made up of All the Booze from Everyone Who Has Ever Hiked These Goddamn Dunes.

And it’s beautiful.

And ONLY then will you realize, HFS, now you’ve got to do it all in reverse.

photo friday: the lord giveth

8 May
Photo courtesy of Swede

Photo courtesy of Swede

A couple weeks ago, Swede and I headed down to Munster, Indiana for our first ever Dark Lord Day experience. Friends of ours had guest tickets, and graciously offered them to us, and while crowds and beer and crowded beer are not my most favorite things in the world, I was intrigued enough by the reputation of the event, and the once-a-year-beer-release, to be all, “Sure! I’ll go!”

And when the actual day arrived, the sky broke loose and dumped a great lake’s worth of rain on northwest Indiana.

All that aside—the waiting for two hours in the rain to get into the event, the waiting in line in the rain for another 90 minutes to buy the special release beer, the woman carefully moving a garter snake from one mud pit right in the path of sopping, slipping beer drinkers to another mud pit where the snake wouldn’t get trampled—it was one of the more intriguing beer events I’ve attended. They don’t mind if you bring in your own food and beer. There’s a friendly charge in the air that entices you to make friends with strangers, and share your beer with them, all of you geeking out over beers from other parts of the nation, the world, that you’ve never tried, and were it not for this kumbaya beer fest, you probably would never been able to try them.

And that’s pretty cool.

photo friday: miller time

16 Jan

Gary, IN copy

Two words you don’t normally hear in the same sentence are “beautiful” and “Gary, Indiana.” (Okay, that’s three words.)

Not these days, anyway.

In its heyday, even before it became known as the hometown of Michael Jackson and his bevy of siblings, Gary was a pretty good spot, full of life and industry and bustling with activity, and far from today’s more common word association of “crime-ridden armpit.” Driving through the city, it’s sad to see how depressed it has become, the grandeur of the old buildings not just faded but boarded up and left for dead.

There are a few signs of life, one of which is the 18th Street Brewery, which opened in Miller Beach a couple years ago. Since its opening 18th Street has gained quite the following, and people who would have scoffed at the idea of venturing to the Gary area are instead shrugging their shoulders in happy defeat while they sip stouts.

That gives me hope for the area that this brewery is really taking off. It gives me hope for any town that was once great to become great again. It might take awhile, but awhile is often better than never.

photo friday: sipping strides

7 Nov

Vice District

Back in September, a neat little brewery opened up mere blocks from the Swede/McPolish abode.

And life was good.

So we went to check it out, and lo! They didn’t have a permit to actually sell beer that first night, but rather than leave our neighborhood high and dry, they handed out free samples of all their brews.

And life got even better.

And as we sipped, Swede and I and our friend Noah, we discovered that the beer was quite delicious.

And life was grand.

Because it’s not often you can achieve the trifecta of breweries—near your house, free, and tastes good. You can usually get two of the three, or one of the three. There are those breweries that Swede and I have visited that turned out to be none of the three, and that’s just a downer.

Granted, Vice District got the whole permit-to-sell-beer thing worked out, and they now do in fact charge us to drink their product, but that’s okay, because in addition to the beer they have free popcorn, which has secured them a place in my kernel-loving heart.

I love our little ‘hood.


if you take one detour

30 Oct

I’m only halfway kidding when I say that this summer was the Summer of Wisconsin.

There was more than one trip to Door County, checking on boats, checking out wineries, checking to make sure we ate as much cheese and sausage as our bodies would allow. Toward the end, we even had the experience of being Bears Fans in Packer Land. Which is a scary thought, but in reality was just delightful (helped greatly by the Jell-O shots that were handed out every time the Pack scored. Which was often. It was not our best game.)

We even got down to Madison one night, and instead of heading straight back to Illinois afterward, we took a detour.

Raise your hand if you’re surprised when I tell you this detour involved a brewery.

Annnd…I count…not a one.

Ok! Good! You’re all catching on to how travel operates in the McPolish-Swede relationship. Well done, all.

Because of course the detour did. Of course.

And what a lovely brewery it was. If you’ve never had one of the many New Glarus offerings (Spotted Cow, Moon Man, Two Women, etc), well, that’s not all that uncommon. It’s my understanding hat while wildly popular, the company doesn’t distribute outside of Wisconsin. (Which may be WHY they are so wildly popular?) So you pretty much have to cross over into America’s Dairy Land if you want to stock up on the brew. And while you’re doing that, since you’ll already be IN Wisconsin, I highly recommend hitting up the brewery while you’re at it.

(Even if it is two hours out of your way.)


What’s nice is that it’s a self-guided brewery tour. And by self-guided I mean you can just skip the looking at the tanks and pipes nonsense and get down to drinking. The tastings will cost you but it’s worth the cost, I thought. The Wisconsin Belgian Red alone is worth it, a dance of flavor on your tongue that you’ll want to tango with over and over.

Tasting Tickets at the New Glarus brewery

The brewery sits high on a hill overlooking the Swiss-influenced town, like the beer castle it is. Benches and tables dot the courtyard, and on the bright and hot Saturday that we visited, there was more than one family—kids in tow—camped out with food and blankets, settling in for a summery good time. And everyone? Everyone just seems happy to be there, happy to taste, happy to take some time to be with their brew and crew.

Beer castles are great like that.