Sipping October

This article was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

One of my best friends was in town for the first time, so I was showing her my sleepy little corner of Ravenswood Manor.

“There are a few breweries nearby,” I offered after we’d walked enough to work up a thirst. “Show me!” she said.

We set out east on Wilson Avenue, taking us through Lincoln Square into Ravenswood proper. We stumbled upon Dovetail Brewery and Begyle Brewing Company, which were jointly hosting a cheery little block party. As families and Cubs-clad 30-somethings mingled, we nibbled on golden pretzels and sipped golden ale, happy with our discovery.

We could have stopped there, but I’m glad we didn’t. Our glasses empty, I suggested we leave behind the jolly crowd for quieter confines, heading a few blocks north to Band of Bohemia, the brewery-meets-beautiful-restaurant opened last year by two Alinea veterans: former head sommelier Craig Sindelar and former baker Michael Carroll, who has turned his talents toward brewing.

Settling in at the bar, we ordered more snacks and a flight each ($15). Each of the five pours was delicious in its own right, but one stood out as a liquid manifestation of that autumn day: the pear fenugreek wheat ale, a seasonal brew that won’t be around for long.

On the nose, the softest whiff of maple sugar escaped the glass, bready and sweet and warm, not unlike the smell of maple syrup itself when poured over just-made pancakes. The palate, too, was soft and comforting, the pleasant, mouth-filling fizz commingling with subtle pear and aniselike flavors.

It was October in a glass — full of change and flux, but as comforting as an old friend coming for a visit.

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