Drink of the week:
A Bad Beer of the Month and Beer of the Month combo—a can of Old Milwaukee and a pint of Sierra Nevada's Harvest at Sheffield's
, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., on a Friday night.
The damage: $2 for the can, only available during that month. The pint, $3.50 discounted from $4.50, changes monthly and is often seasonal.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? Wine connoisseurs would rather stay sober than drink White Zin, but most beer snobs slum it from time to time. I think it's because most were once poor 21-year-olds who paid $5 to drink unlimited Bud Light out of a keg. When the former drinking novices get real-world paychecks that afford them Belgian ales and microbrews, they still delight in PBR. I'm one of these people, and when I realized that Sheffield's, a bar with one of the best beer menus in town, offers a Bad Beer of the Month alongside its Beer of the Month special, I had to pay homage to my past.
How it went down: Most drinkers would probably order one beer at a time, but I opted to switch back and forth between the glistening silver can and frothy copper pint. I conducted an inebriating version of the Pepsi Challenge, and just like when I triumphed by picking Pepsi when I was seven years-old, Old Milwaukee and Sierra Nevada didn't fool me either.
Sierra Nevada's Harvest Ale has a strong hop and malt flavor that balances out its sweet lemony-citrus punch. The hop factor is almost over the top, and results in a bitter, woodsy aftertaste. No question Harvest is complex, but is it better? Old Milwaukee is a typical American lager that tastes crisp and light. OM, however, does seem a bit grainier than its peers, so I give the edge to Harvest.
Would I want to become a regular? Sheffield's doesn't feature discounted cans of "bad" beers to mock them. It does it because it wants to offer something for everyone—from the bike messenger crowd that bellies up to the vintage bar to the young professionals perched on tall tables playing board games. In addition to the Beers of the Month and nightly specials, every night of the week features $2.50 pints and $9 pitchers of PBR; $3 Bud and Miller bottles and $3 pints and $10 pitchers of Red Hook ESB.
As if the deals weren't enough to keep me happy, when I'm back in beer-connoisseur mode Sheffield's 34-page Beer Almanac offers plenty of choices (like Pyramid Apricot Ale, $4.50, and one of the best brews from Belgium, Delirum Tremems, $9). If you have yet to reach beer snob status, have no fear. Sheffield's list includes a glossary of terms used to describe its beers, which, in my professional opinion, I recommend studying before you take your taste test.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.