Lafayette Brewing, Lafayette, Indiana

So if West Lafayette is like Pullman, Regular Lafayette is like Ellensburg. A rarity since I have been in Indiana, I had to parallel park to get in there. There were a lot of other bars on the street, and I was a little disappointed not to be there on a Saturday night. This was a nice place with a restaurant and families. They had a “Please wait to be seated” sign that had been purchased from the same catalog that every other “Please wait to be seated” sign had.

I walked past the sign because I was going to the bar, and that sign did not apply to me anyway. The natural spot to sit was at the right end, but there were open stools on the left end, and that was where the action was. I sat to the left of some old professor and to the right of a good looking college girl. She was not rude or stuck up, but she wasn’t interested in me so I left her alone. The barmaid was very pretty, college-town-older, and wanted to be noticed.

Maybe she was 30, but in a place like that, it made her a MILF–and she knew it. There were also two dudes working the bar, but they were less interesting. I was the lone stranger at the bar, so therefore I was the most interesting to the MILF.

“I feel so lost today,” she said, looking at me out of the corner of her eye.

The college boys at the bar took the bait like she threw pellets into the koi pond. A chorus of harumphs and whatsamatters came, but she glared at me as if to say, “I didn’t get a harumph out of that guy.”

She was stuck talking to them a little more about how she was hungover and didn’t feel like working. Apparently she had been down at the such-and-such bar and didn’t remember what she had been doing–eyeing me the whole time.

Finally she came back down to me and sold me a beer. I informed her that the best cure for a hangover was not charging me for that beer. She chuckled politely, but I wasn’t joking. I am not sure why I wasn’t interested in her–she was gorgeous–but I just wasn’t. Maybe because she smelled like manipulation.

The desperation game turned up when she stood in front of me and turned to her coworker and said, “If I wasn’t such an ugly woman, I would be better at my job.”

The harumphs reminded her that she was gorgeous/beautiful/hot/good at her job.

I said, “You know, that’s really the story of my life too.”

“You are an ugly woman?” she said as if she had me.

“My dear, I am a horrible woman,” I said. “I am not good at it all.”

Then I paused for comedic timing.

“But,” I said, “I am an amazing lesbian.”

The harumphs erupted in laughter and she got mad and turned red. I don’t know what she was mad about though, I had basically announced to all that I was a master of the oral arts.

I’m not good at speaking, but I am a cunning linguist.

She and I never spoke again, and I ended up talking to the old professor next to me about baseball. We agreed that Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame and that Pete Rose should not. He was a White Sox fan, which I appreciated, because there are not many of those outside of the Southside. We were both purists, but followed American League teams.

I suspect that the food at Lafayette Brewing was pretty good–but I didn’t eat any. The beer was generic, and I don’t even remember what I drank.

The television was showing MASH reruns with no sound. The old professor and I talked about that too. Sergeant Maxwell was ahead of his time for pretending to be gay so he could get discharged. A character that could not exist in modern television, yet was so simplistic when the show aired. The professor was also unaware that there had been a movie prior to the television show, and that the theme music was actually a song with morbid lyrics called Suicide is Painless.

As we became more infatuated with the MASH episode, the MILF barmaid decided to turn the channel to an infomercial. As it turns out, there is something called a MagicJuicer, but I don’t plan on ever buying it.
I finished my beer and left. It is always a disappointment to me when a hot girl decides that she going to be a petty bitch. If she was unattractive, it would bother me less. I don’t mean to sound chauvinistic, but if a hot girl wants to act like she is owed every bit of attention, and then pouts when she doesn’t get it, she essentially devalues her own stock. When an ugly girl does this, she does it out of frustration, and has every right to be frustrated. I can respect that. At least she is trying.

People’s Brewing Company, Lafayette, Indiana

On a whim, I decided to drive down to West Lafayette to watch baseball. As it turns out, you can’t have a West Lafayette without a Regular Lafayette. West Lafayette is where Purdue university is. Regular Lafayette is where the drinking is.

I came into town the backway because that is how I like to come.

It is not the most attractive way to get into Regular Lafayette, but that statement is probably another innuendo in itself. I followed the trains and the river to the industrial part of town where the trolls live. I didn’t see any trolls but I did see one opossum–that’s how I knew there were trolls. Trolls eat opossums because they taste like swamp water and trailer parks. This little bastard was running for his life because he knew a troll was going to eat him. He ran out into the road and played dead so that the troll wouldn’t eat him. I didn’t want to see him get eaten, but his dead playing was poor, so I ran him over with my car in order to help him out. Nothing looks more like a opossum playing possum than a dead opossum.

I missed my turn into People’s because I was admiring my work. The building is a small warehouse painted bright, optic colors against a forest green background. The building next to it is nondescript so I pulled into it by mistake. They did not share a parking lot, but they did share a grassy area between their parking lots, so I drove through that.

I had my choice between walking up the stairs or taking the ramp. The ramp was long, and it was only a couple of steps, so I took the ramp to add to the suspense. Inside, things were slow as it was early in the day. Three old women sat at a table and talked. A middle aged man sat at the bar. I sat there too. An Ipod or something was playing some good old school–Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Smiths. Kind of a typical playlist for such a place, but it was appropriate. When I go to a shit-hole, I want a jukebox playing Hank, Jr.–when I go to a craft joint, I want some Lou Reed. Yes it is a cliche, but cliches are like stereotypes, they happen for a reason.

The beer list was modest, but not short. I asked the bartender what I should have if I only have one. He gave me the typical response, asking what I liked.

I like fucking beer. You tell me what is good, it’s your bar, ass hole.

Of course, since this is a college town, the recommendation went straight to IPAs–another cliche.

“Our Space Cowboy is really good. It’s a double IPA and it’s nine percent.”

To me that is a red flag. Alcohol content is not what makes beer good. I don’t write blogs about Steel Reserve for a reason. Alcohol content sells beer to college kids. They also like buzzwords like “dank” and “nitro” and “Cascade hops”. I heard the bartender say to a college kid that came in later, that their beer was brewed with Cascade hops. I asked where they got their hops, but the barman didn’t know. I casually named dropped the Yakima and Willamette Valleys, just to see what he would say. He didn’t say anything much, but his eyes lit up because he picked up two new buzzwords.

To my surprise, the Space Cowboy was very smooth. It was brewed by people who knew what they were doing with the finest hops on the planet. My only complaint was that the Ipod had no Steve Miller Band on it.

It was so smooth that I could not taste the alcohol. The hops were not overpowering, they were complimentary.

Written upon the chalkboard was some valuable information. Growlers were four dollars. A growler fill was seven dollars. The Mr. Brown brown ale was the beer of the week, which made it two dollars off of a growler fill.

For several minutes I stared at the board and did math. The final number that I came up with was “fuck that’s cheap” so I bought a growler of Mr. Brown. I thought about the song Mr. Brownstone, by Guns N’ Roses, but that song was about heroin.

Wait. So was every song by Velvet Underground.

Goose Island, Chicago

Sorry I haven’t been writing, folks. Ain’t had much to say.

Today the weather was good, the buzz was buzzing, I felt like walking around and drinking a little–so I did.

A few months ago, I was driving through Chicago at rush hour. People around here act like Chicago has the worst traffic in the world. I don’t think that is true, but it isn’t very good. Regardless, I didn’t feel like sitting in it, so I got off the freeway and decided to drink.

At first I was disappointed. The Goose Island isn’t on Goose Island.

I suppose that isn’t a necessity, but it was a mild let down. I really didn’t know what to expect though, except that it is kind of the big boy in Chicagoland.

I parked across the street at a big ass liquor store. I decided to check that out first since it was a big ass liquor store. I didn’t spend much time there since I knew that my drinking was going to be on the other side of the road. What impressed me the most was that they had Pendleton Whisky half gallons for forty dollars.

To this day, I am still kicking my ass for not buying any.

The Goose Island is a nice joint. I walked in and sat at the bar. It was disappointingly empty for rush hour but I had already committed to drinking. Chicago is known as a pro-sports town, but as I was on my way to watch my Eastern Washington Eagles mens’ basketball team lose by eleven to Northwestern–which as everyone in Chicago is aware, is Chicago’s Big Ten team–I was disappointed to find that there was no shit talking as I walked in with all my Eastern gear on.

Nobody said anything. It was as if they didn’t even know that Northwestern had a basketball team that played games and shit.

I sat at the bar and looked around. It sat as an island with televisions that could be seen from all stools. If there were thirty places to sit, there were five other people sitting in them.

Sportscenter was even talking about the game and not a damn person wanted to address the fact that Eastern Washington out-represented Northwestern in the most superlative craft-brew establishment in the home of Chicago’s Big Ten team.

The thing that I really noticed about this place was that the few people that were in there seemed to all know each other, yet they were not interested in talking to each other. There were a lot of hey-how-have-you-beens, but not much depth to the conversations.

Why the fuck do you know people at the bar you drink at if you aren’t going to talk to them?

After two beers, my take on the Goose Island was that this place is not special. Maybe if it wasn’t the big boy in town, it would have some personality. It’s like when the boss brings donuts in because he is nice guy. He isn’t really a nice guy, he is just sweetening the pot because in a couple weeks, when the budget cuts happen, his job got made easier with donuts.

Koontz Lake Brewing, Walkerton, IN

One day I was drinking at a shit hole bar in South Bend, when this good-looking blonde decided that my sexual advances were more flattering than harassment and we began a conversation. Cutting straight to the good part, no, I did not seal the deal. She had her wing-woman with her, Princess Cock Block, but we did have a quality conversation.

The Princess and I, however, did not see eye to eye.

I only mention any of this because Good-Looking Blonde mentioned that a new brewery had opened down in Walkerton. We agreed that one day we would meet up there and get drunk, but so far this has not happened.

Fast forward a few months to where I found myself sitting lonely in my apartment on an autumn Saturday night, praying to God and Jesus above for a good local bar to go watch my Washington Huskies kick the shit out of the Oregon State Beavers.

There wasn’t one, so I went off to Walkerton, looking for beer.

The joint was easy enough to find, but at eight o’clock, or seven, depending on whatever the fuck time-zone I was in, on a Saturday, it was disgustingly dead. By all rights, this was the type of roadside place that should have had Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliot working the door. Unfortunately, neither of these gentlemen were there.

Truth be told Patrick Swayze would have creeped out a little bit with that whole being dead thing.

I walked in as an old biker was walking out. We bull shat for a minute about how good the music was. Steve Miller was singing about Jet Airliners and all that funky shit going down in the city. It was small talk, but somehow, in an unspoken instant, the keys were turned over to me. I had the run of the joint.

The bar maid was attractive, but she didn’t need to be.

She and I made small talk but it wasn’t going anywhere. Nobody else was in the bar, which was too bad. There was a joint across the street that looked to be happening. I thought about having one and then going over there, but that just seemed disrespectful.

It was explained to me that the owner had bought a flat screen and hadn’t mounted it yet. The joint across the street was packed because the Cubs were in the process of clinching a spot in the World Series in game six versus the Dodgers. I was polite but the first question that came to my mind, was “How shitty at business are you if you aren’t capitalizing on the local team going to the Series?”

Besides being dead as fuck, this really was a good place. There was a pizza joint attached to it—which was equally dead—so the barmaid invited the girl working that place over.

That girl was a little different. I don’t remember her name, nor does it even matter. She was early twenties, a little heavy, and had some serious self-esteem issues. I liked her though. She was real. She came over and nursed a beer. The three of us had a good time bull shitting. Pizza girl had no filter, which I really appreciated. She talked about hating her friends, how her dad walks around naked, and how bull shit clothes are.

I agreed with a lot of what she said. I had mixed feelings about clothes though. I’m sure you all will agree that some people look better naked, and some look better covered. I had no desire to see her naked, but as the evening went on, and she kept referencing her pierced nipples. I decided that as disinterested in seeing her naked as I was, the prospect of getting her to take her nipples out was somewhat exciting.

Over the next three beers, she made it very clear that she loved showing her nips, and that there was nothing sexual about it. When finally the barmaid went out to have a smoke, and it was just Pizza and me, I said, “If I thought you were serious, I would ask you to see those pierced nipples.”

“I am serious,” she said.

“No you aren’t, because otherwise I would have seen them already.”

Then she called my bluff.

If big areolas are pepperoni tits, I was staring straight down the barrel of Canadian bacon. I wasn’t any less impressed because as I learned from the big kids when I young, any day that you get to see a nipple is a good day. This day, my friends, became thirty-six hours of brilliance all in one horrifically glorious moment.

I pounded my beer and laid a twenty on the bar. I had seen enough. I was ready to go home.

As I stood, the barmaid walked in. It was near closing time and she was in distress.

Had I not wanted to see her nipples so bad, I would have just left.

“Are you okay,” I asked, pulling out my finest concerned gentleman.

“My fucking truck won’t start,” she said.

As a grown ass man, I knew it was my duty to go out and give her a jump. I did not bitch or complain about this, as my own status as poor-white-trash dictated that I pay it forward.

She took the cables from me and hooked them up herself. She had obviously done this before. For this reason, I instantly liked her.

After I got her rig jumped, she closed the joint down. I don’t know if it was really closing time, or just that she decided she was done for the night. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a crowd in there because there was so much potential for a wild time. Somebody needs to shit or get off the pot and get that TV hung up.


John S. Rhodell Brewery, Peoria, IL

The John S. Rhodell Brewery sounds like it should be a law firm or something with a name like that. Fortunately, it sits underneath a bridge in downtown Peoria, in an old building that looks like it should be inhabited by junkies and crackwhores. The locations suits it well because I was able to piss underneath that bridge on my way out. The only people that saw were two very nice lipstick lesbians, and one old junky that didn’t want to trouble himself.

Walking in, I was already drunk, and the place was near closing. I was traveling on business because that sort of shit sounds dignified when you blog about it on the internet. The business associates that I was with were the type of people that travel for work for the sake of working, rather than paying for their hotel and airfare by showing up to meetings and lectures with a hangover.

I am not about that life, so I made it a point to earn my stay.

I sat at one end of the bar and asked for what was good. The big butchie pouring beer poured me a few samples. She didn’t ask me what I liked, and I like that. If I want to tell you what is good, I am not doing my job as an alcoholic. I wanted to be in love with some of the other beers, but a Belgian-Scottish blend of some kind turned me into a believer. I didn’t like the idea of that combination, but it actually worked.

In my experience, butchie barmaids might be number two on the list of unpleasant women to be around—second only to Filipino Navy wives that just had their windshields busted in by their husband’s girlfriend, and maybe even a close third to Hillary when she goes through Bill’s phone.

But this butchie was a sweetheart—Mary-Ellen, I think. We bull shat about the great Pacific Northwest, and her desire to spend a summer in the craft brew holy land. The two lipsticks sat there and rubbed each other’s thighs every time they thought I was looking.

Even though I was drunk, I could tell they knew what they were doing to me—which was fine—I did too, so it was a mutually beneficial situation for all of us.

This is a good opportunity for me to tell all of the nineteen-year-old dudes out there that lesbians aren’t what you are used to seeing in the dirty movies. Generally speaking, two lesbians fooling around in the public setting are about as erotic as when a seagull picks a clam up off the beach and drops it on a rock and cracks it so they can eat it. The only real difference is when you have seagulls on the beach, you don’t smell as much saltwater and kelp.

If I would have been nineteen on this day, I would have blown a good situation. At thirty-five, I was able to keep my composure and introduce myself. These two ladies were very cool, and I am sorry to report that we had good wholesome grown-up conversation.

So cool in fact that even though I learned that one of them was a former Olympic gold-medalist, and as far as the media was concerned, was not out of the closet, I have chosen not to say who she was on this blog that nobody reads. All I will say was that I was able to verify this easily, and that there was no bull shit about it—she was legit.

I am not bragging about this, and I almost didn’t tell any of that story here. When I sat down to write this, I had every intention replacing that part with a story that happened on the same trip at a bar at the O’Hare Airport. It was a good story too, and it involved me getting nearly raped by a sixty-year-old cancer patient, and then getting cussed out for not consenting to the rape. I felt like I needed to share the other story—the true story—because it speaks to the sense of community that exists at Rhodell’s, and in Peoria itself. Peoria isn’t so large that it’s residents can go out openly and expect to keep a low profile—especially celebrities. These ladies were so comfortable that they were able to just be real. There were other gay people in there too, and there were also a lot of straight people. I would not classify it as a gay-bar or a straight-bar. Nor would I classify it as a gay-friendly straight bar. It’s just a bar. A tavern, in fact. The kind of place where people just go and be people.

The kind of place where beer drinkers can go and drink beer.

Back Road Brewery, La Porte, IN

The other brewery in La Porte is not in as great of a location. Apple Maps had a hard time finding it, but sometimes Apple Maps can’t find its way out of a parking lot. My friend Jen played copilot as we took the “Where’s the Bathroom?” tour of La Porte.

As I think I have mentioned before, It’s called the “Where’s the Bathroom?” tour because anytime you get caught someplace that you shouldn’t be, all you have to do is tell them that you were looking for the bathroom, and instantly your sin will be forgiven.

We drove through neighborhoods, under overpasses, over underpasses, and even on both wrong sides of the tracks. Finally, in an industrial area we found it. It seemed like it was closed, but there were just enough cars out front to make us question this. There was very little that identified it as a brewery. It sat strategically in geographic location that never got sunshine, and always had a freight train going by.

When we pulled up, we could see people drinking through an open door. It clearly wasn’t a bar. It looked more like a tasting room or a warehouse.

But fuck it, they were drinking.

We crossed the parking lot, which was surprisingly absent of heroin needles and used condoms. Nobody acknowledged us when we walked in. Nobody tended the doors, and there were empty shipping boxes all over hell.

We stood there awkwardly and invisibly until I finally asked if they were selling beer or having a private party. As it turned out, these were a race of people that couldn’t see until they were spoken to. I thought they were just ass hole honkies.

“Oh just go through that door, beer is in there,” they cheerfully pointed to a doorway that held their riches.

We went through the door and a fat hipster was tending the taps. We tried their beer and it was good enough. Jen isn’t a beer drinker, but she made a good effort. Bartender introduced her to a blueberry amber something that she liked well enough to drink. I tried it, but it wasn’t for me.

He introduced me to a hefeweisen–except he pronounced it hefee-wee-sun.

That bothered me. I felt like he had a reason for saying it like that, but I didn’t ask. I figured that his reason would be stupid, but it would make me feel stupid because he wouldn’t be smart enough to realize it.

Hefeweisen is a German word that means heavy wheat. It should be pronounced with the w making the v sound. The ei verb combination always makes the eye sound in German, and the s should make hard sound–not a soft sound.

Heffeh-vie-zun. That’s how you fucking say it.

I drank the amber because he knew how to say it. It was good and then we got to bull shitting.

He asked where we were from. Clearly he thought that Jen and I were a couple. For the record–Mom–we are not. But I do understand why he thought that. He might have just recognized that there are certain benefits to our friendship.

Wink-wink, nose tap.

She is from a small town that was only about 45 minutes away, so that’s what we went with. The hipster bartender had never heard of it.We tried to explain it, but apparently he doesn’t spend much time paying attention to Earth.

One of the folks that was drinking in the front when we came in, came back to get a beer. Bartender asked him if he knew where the little town was, but he didn’t know either.

“Well how long have you two lived there?” the new person to the conversation asked.

I could tell Jen was getting uncomfortable with the suggestions that we were a couple, so I made sure to alleviate her embarrassment.

“Oh we are not together,” I said. “She is just my favorite cousin.”

I said this with a straight face and Jen didn’t argue. The two fellas chuckled nervously but they weren’t convinced either way.

The small talk continued and was actually pretty pleasant. It became clear that they had really been closed since before we got there, and the people drinking around the table were employees and friends. The new fella to join the bartender and us was the masterbrewer.

We asked questions and learned about the brewery. To our surprise, it had been there for about 25 years and was the oldest such joint in a specific regional area that I can no longer recall. They also, unlike most in the craft brew world, hold a disdain for the other local craft brewery in town.

Usually, craft breweries root for each other to be successful–often sharing resources and sometimes even recipes–because having multiple brewers in an area brings in revenue for all. Beer tourism is a thing. People like me write blogs about it.

These folks had nothing good to say about the other brewery. I asked why, but they didn’t really have a good answer. It was all mostly gossip and bull shit.

I am not going to complain though, they were really nice to us. We ended up at their table shooting the shit and telling stories. Most of them were 25-35, and all seemed to be coupled off–good looking girls were with fugly guys, and Handsome Jacks all had their Marie Lavouxs.

Then there was the drunk old guy with the Lincoln Continental parked out front. I have no idea what his role was there, but I will assume that he was the mayor of La Porte. We talked of politics, and he was a right winger–which doesn’t really fit in with hipsters, but I guess that him more interesting. To his credit, we were in agreement that Governor Pence is a big piece of shit, and a likely closet homosexual.

There was also a pretty girl in a short skirt from Canada. I like Canada and Canadians, so it was nice to meet her. In the Midwest, everyone here treats Canada like it’s a foreign country.

As she and I discussed the glories of the north–except of course Quebec because fuck those Frenchies. As it turned out, she was from Victoria. I love Victoria the most, with Whitehorse and Kelowna being pretty high too, because I have drank at every bar in those cities.

No, I am not exaggerating. I have drank at every bar in those cities excluding the wineries and Asian restaurants.

The Back Road Brewery in La Porte, Indiana is a good place. It’s quirky, and I don’t know how it gets enough traffic to stay open. I think it must survive because it is real. The people there are real, and being real is what gets you a membership. I will drink there again.


Twisted K-8 Brewing, LaPorte, IN

I had been itching to get to LaPorte and drink their beer, so I kidnapped a pretty redhead.

True story.

I didn’t tell her what was going on because that is not how a kidnapping works. She didn’t complain, and came along willingly, which was too bad because that is also not how a kidnapping works.

We found the joint and parked across the street. The location was good, as it sat right downtown, and next to some shit hole looking bar. We didn’t go in there, but next time I will.

I like shit holes.

The Twisted K-8 was unfortunately not a shit hole, but it could easily go there if they would just let you smoke inside, or had a pool table or a juke box.

I don’t know. Maybe a juke box has no business in a craft brew joint. If I play the juke box, there will be old school country. There will be southern rock. If I am feeling it, you all can expect some Beastie Boys or old school Metallica. My good buddy Derrek Lete always goes to Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffet when he is drinking. It’s a little uncomfortable, but it serves itself. I’m afraid that a juke box in one of these places would be too hipster.

I don’t like the idea of a hipster juke box at all. I know it would have Johnny Cash–and that’s good–but they wouldn’t get it. A hipster should only be allowed to play Johnny Cash if he first plays some back-to-Austin Willie Nelson. I’m talking Devil in a Sleeping Bag or Time of the Preacher. You can’t play On the Road Again, then follow it with Folsom Prison and think that you are meeting the old school country quota.

* Honorable mention to any Kristoferson song that isn’t Bobbie McGee or any song written by Ray Wylie Hubbard or JJ Cale that is being sung by another artist.

I am afraid that hipster juke box will have Coldplay.

My captive and I, sat at a table because the bar was full of regulars. Had there been two empty stools at the bar, maybe we would have gone there, but there weren’t. We were on our own.

The service was fine. The barmaid brought us a beer menu and we perused it. I asked a lot of questions about their beers and she was helpful.

My redhaired friend drank wine.

Whenever I go to a new spot, I like to try their signature beer. Whenever I go into one of these Midwest joints, they don’t claim a signature beer. They just answer my question with a question. I fucking hate that.

Me: “Which is your finest beer? What do I need to try so that I can say that I was at Twisted K-8 and had your whatever?”

Barmaid: “Well, what do you like?”

Bitch, I like fucking beer. I like beer that is cold, and that is good. Don’t make this about me.

She started reading all of their beers to me off of the menu. I stopped listening because my eyes spotted the one I wanted. There, on the menu, was one called Redheaded Slut.

I shit you not.

“Just like the name says, it goes down easy.”

I made it clear that this was what I wanted. My hostage either appreciated the humor, or played it really cool, I’m not sure which.

The beer was good, and I made her try it. Reluctantly she did, and I put my hand on her thigh to show her that she was safe and had nothing to fear while in my captivity.

We drank our drinks and were sitting there bullshitting. The place began to turn creepy because anytime one of us would say something interesting, the bar would get quiet as if they  were listening to our conversation. Looking back, I wish I would have said some ignorant shit and treated them to a show.

Something like, “Yeah, so my doctor said it wasn’t a hemeroid, it was a herpe.” Or, “How long are you supposed to keep them in there? I wish we would have counted how many beads so we don’t lose any.”

We just finished and went out front and had a cigarette. A drunk stumbled out of the shit hole bar next door and saw his shadow and became startled. He didn’t say anything about it, but he did notice us noticing him. He saved face by straightening up and looking around nonchalantly like sober people do.

Next time in LaPorte, I will drink at that bar.




Constantine Brewery, Constantine, MI

I love Michigan. I mean not Detroit and its suburbs, that’s a different state. But Michigan is cool.

I don’t know how many times I have driven through Constantine, but I know I had never been out of the car the car there. I have driven through and seen the sign that says “Constantine Brewery” but is has never worked out to go in.

Today was different. Today, I was the first person in the history of the world to make Constantine, Michigan my tourist destination. It took me longer to get there than it should have because the main road was closed. I guess they didn’t know that this was the busy season.

The brewery is easy to find; it’s right on the main drag in the heart of the downtown Space For Lease District. I walked in and was pleasantly surprised to find that this was one of the few businesses in town that was still open. The barmaid greeted me and asked if I was thirsty.

I was.

Then she asked what brought me in.

“Well my liver took off running, so I have been trying to track the little bastard down,” I said. ” He usually goes drinking when I’m not looking.”

She got a dumbfounded look on her face, but I liked her anyway. She was rail thin with some tight stonewash mom jeans and a spaghetti strap halter that really didn’t harness anything. She walked with a hitch that registered somewhere between gout and bad jake.

I ordered a Goatman Porter and it was good. She asked if I wanted food but I did not.

“I will leave you with a memory anyway,” she said–then caught herself and wailed laughter because she had meant to say “menu”.

I don’t remember what I said to that, but it was definitely tacky and off-color.

Nobody else was at the bar, or in the whole joint at all, but she was pleasant and invited me to check out the outdoor beer garden. She had to know it was raining. Who sits in the beer garden in the rain? But then she explained that she had just planted the flowers and finished the fountain. I promised to check it out before I left.

She then excused herself apologetically to go into the dining room and continue wine bottling, because yes, they are also a winery.

I sat alone for a while, but then decided to get up and give myself the “Where’s the bathroom?” tour.

It’s called the “Where’s the bathroom?” tour because just wandering aimlessly through a place that you don’t belong–like an “employees only” or “no admittance” area–is a social taboo. But if you get caught where you don’t belong, all you have to do is ask where the bathroom is, and nobody will begrudge you. There is nothing innapropriate about getting lost while looking for a pisser.

I made my way behind the kitchen and found an exit that led to the beer garden. It was a very pleasant and homey outdoor area with a covered patio and grassy area that needed to be mowed. It was all fenced in and had a nice view of the ass end of dilapidated downtown Constantine. Definitely my kind of beer garden.

I went back in and found the barmaid in the dinning room with Alan bottling wine.  I had not met Alan yet but I could already tell that he was a legend. I complimented them on the establishment and the beer garden and then sat back at the bar and read the menu.

For four dollars I could buy a cup of macaroni and cheese that went by the name “crack”.

When the barmaid came back, I asked her if I could order another beer and a hot cup of her crack. It was the first time that anyone had ever ordered a cup of her crack, but she was pleased to oblige.

Then Alan came and sat at the bar and helped me bullshit. I told him a story about getting thrown out of a tavern one time for calling out a pregnant woman who was drinking. He agreed that fetal alcohol syndrome was some bull shit, which was extra fantastic because he told me this through a severe stutter that would have shied lesser folks. Through his difficulty, Alan was a master bull shitter, and brought bull shit to the table, which is the finest quality that a good barman can have.

To my delight the macaroni and cheese was good. It wasn’t crack, but I was polite and told her that if she would have served it in rock form, I would have smoked it.

The Constantine Brewery is a fine place. It is authentically southern Michigan, and it is a fine representation of the community it service. This is not a place that I would put in Seattle or Portland, but it’s a place that should stay right where it is. Places like this have a niche.

Before I left I had learned how things operated in Constantine. There was a big ol’ boy that would often come in and get piss-drunk and get thrown out from time to time. It wasn’t gout or bathtub hooch that had given my new friend the hitch, it was simply a broken toe from getting pissed and kicking the shit out of a metal door.

As I left, some nice people walked in. I thought about staying for one more, but nice people just ruin a place like that.






Father John’s Brewing, Bryan, OH

Where is Bryan, Ohio? you ask.

Get a fucking map, it’s in Ohio. About halfway between Fort Wayne and Toledo. I stumbled upon the knowledge of it’s existence while surfing the web. Again, with my parents visiting from the Pacific Northwest, I was determined to show them the best of all that Indiana has to offer–and Ohio just so happens to be part of that.

My mother is determined to visit all 50 states before she dies, and Ohio was one she had not visited. She would have been happy driving up to the “Welcome to Ohio” sign and turning around, but I figured we needed a destination.

Beer is always the destination.

Of all of the great gutters in Ohio to be drunk in, this one was a craft brewery inside of an old church. If you are not so inclined to go drink in an old church, you need to stop reading my blog and go fuck yourself.

The town of Bryan is quaint and whitebread. So whitebread, in fact, that we had wraps at a Tim Horton’s before going drinking. The town square probably has a living nativity during the holidays, and the streets are lined with pull-in spots because parallel parking is so damn complicated. Adjacent to the courthouse sits the old church that appropriately shares a parking lot with the middle school.

Or we just parked at the middle school and went to the tavern–I’m not really sure.

The day was a Friday. It was raining. Pretty young women were entering the church wearing nylons and heels. Their gentlemen were wearing neck ties. Old couples were dressed to the nines and arrived in freshly washed Lincolns and Cadillacs. Creepy uncles were off by themselves smoking cigarettes with their untucked, flower pattern shirts unbuttoned to old man cleavage.

“Are you sure this is a brewery?” my father asked, in his nicest heavy camo jacket and Yukon Brewing Company hat on.

“Nope,” I reassured him.

As we entered the church, we skipped signing the guest registry and walked straight into chapel. The polished up wedding goers did not even bat an eye at the three honkies that walked in, randomly opening doors looking for beer. I guess they all thought we were kin to the other side of the wedding couple–because, shit, every family has a Cousin Eddie.

After trying all of the doors and shaking hands with the groom, we went outside and stood in the rain.

The sign out front said this was the brewery. The church with gave no indication of any brewery on site. We decided to walk around the building to see what we could find. An out door patio area around back and some fermentation tanks announced to us that we were getting warmer. A garage door was open and two brewers were sitting in an office shooting the shit.

“Where do we go to drink your beer?” I hollered.

“Right here!” they hollered back.

They pointed us through a series of hallways that led right into a Medieval themed bar that made up the basement. Above us, we could hear the wedding. The stools at the bar were an eclectic set of old iron milking and doctor stools that were of varying heights, not one of them had three legs of the same length. Menus and beer lists were in the tattered old hymnals that were scattered throughout the bar.

Besides all of the references to the church, there were also other religious relics. There were Buddhas and Vishnus. I think there were probably other things in there that I did not recognize too.

The beer was good, but the crowd was somber. Wedding guests found an unmarked door from the modern world to ours that we were unable to find in our search. They would do a shot and have a beer, but never got too carried away. That just seemed disrespectful to beer-church because why else have a wedding there?

We had a beer and left, though I could have drank in there all day. I am not a church goer, but if I had a church in my town where I could grab a beer in the basement and then attend services, I might have to get rebaptised.

Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee

I was trying to think of some major cities in this nation that I have not been drunk in, and have still been to. At first I thought Denver, but then I remembered one time at my mom’s cousin’s house when I was 17, and then every layover I have ever had there.

San Francisco? No.

Salt Lake? Hell no.

Atlanta? Drunk there too.

Louisville, Kentucky? I stopped to get gas there one night after midnight on my way from Cleveland to Nashville. I was drunk in Cleveland, and Lord knows I was drunk in Nashville. I was not drunk in Louisville.

The point I am trying to make is that I have never been drunk in Louisville, but I have never been sober in Milwaukee–and that is thanks in large part to the Lakefront Brewery.

My one and only trip to Milwaukee was with my parents, but don’t worry, I was well behaved.

We walked up in this joint looking to drink lunch. It was the middle of the day on a Saturday in early May. The tourist season hadn’t began yet, and by the looks of things, the town was about dead. There were a few people outside smoking cigarettes, but that is not a reliable statistic when determining the excitement level inside a bar.

I am glad I showed up when I did because if I would have waited a year, the location would have gone to shit. The Lakefront sat not on a lake, but on the Milwaukee River, underneath a pedestrian bridge that looked perfect for getting a twenty dollar hummer from a crack-whore, and then getting mugged by her pimp. Next to it was a construction site where nice condominiums were going in, and what was clearly once a shit hole, was now becoming a trendy place to be.

Nice neighborhoods ruin good bars.

We walked inside and discovered that this place was Coyote Ugly crowded, but a hell of a lot better than that shitty analogy I just threw at you. There was a beer bar and a food bar. The food line was short. The beer line was long. They had an okay menu but all I remember was three fish tacos for six dollars, so there was nothing more to think about after that.

I got in the beer line. My parents found a seat at one of the many tables that were all occupied. We shared with a really nice black couple from Chicago that had never been there before either.

Hey Asshole, that’s racist! Why does it matter that they were black?

Fuck off.

I noticed at the bar, frat boys and douche bags were buying 10 ounce beers with wooden tokens that they had been standing in some other line to buy. I never understood why because I was able to use my grown up credit card to buy grown up sized beers without any problem.

There were a lot of people, most of them looked like out-of-towners, but it wasn’t a very wild crowd. The frat boys were content to drink from their sippy cups and the grown folks had grown folk conversation. For instance, my father pointed out that there was a blow up doll at another table at the far end of the bar.

“I will get my picture taken with that thing,” I vowed.

The old black man said that he would too, but his wife disagreed with him. As it turned out, she was correct.

Not willing to be left out, my mother offered to buy me a beer if she could take the picture.

With Mom as my wingman, we walked up to what turned out to be a bachelorette party.

“Is this a bachelorette party?” I asked as I approached.

The girls didn’t seem drunk, but they were happy to see me. I must have been the first guy to approach them. They assured me that this was, indeed, a bachelorette party.

“Is this the groom,” I asked pointing to the blow up doll.

At that moment, they all seemed to remember that they were drinking with an inflatable rubber man because then they let out a cheer, and the eyes of the bar were all watching. One of the girls pulled his pants down and revealed what was very clearly a giant, yet testicleless, uncircumcised inflatable penis.

“I would be honored if you all would allow my mother to take a picture of me with the bride and groom.”

The bride was mortified. She did not get up, her party had forcibly turn her head towards the camera as I held Rubberstilskin by his baby arm so he could be in the picture too. The bride kind of killed the vibe, but just like a good set of batteries, I kept that vibe motoring along.

“I think I also need to get my picture taken with the bridesmaid that is going to catch the bouquet,” I declared.

They all singled out one particular girl and the party was back on. A good looking girl in her early to mid twenties got up eagerly and came over to me. I put my arm around her and pulled her closer.

The old mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law disapproved and I saw them whisper to another girl to get rid of me. But the young lady that I was cozying with was getting her picture taken with me and a blow up doll first.

She told me that if I knew where to get some strippers, I could come back and party with them.

“Well that shouldn’t be a problem,” I said, “I’m swinging a pretty large piece, and it would be my gift to the bride to show it to everyone.”

This girl appeared to like the idea and she told me to call her later.

“Okay, let me get your number,” I said as I pulled my phone out.

“Just call me, I will come give it to you later.”

I knew what that meant. No phone number for me. Regardless, I got a good picture, and my hand was on her ass.