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Going Long

Marked-down microbrews make for a nice mid-week treat.
Monday Jun 09, 2008.     By Erin Brereton
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

I'm a planner. I like to know what I'm doing, and when. No surprises. No last-minute adventures.

But last Wednesday, I threw all caution (and my plans to do laundry) to the wind and decided—that day—to meet my friends Bev and Lisa for an evening catch-up cocktail.

My friend Bev, whom I hadn't seen in months, suggested the Long Room, which she praised for making sidecars without nasty sour mix (blech).

I've been to the Long Room before, and it always has been a chill, quiet neighborhood-y place to catch up with friends. Yes, it is long; tables line the wall, so it's hard to fit more than three friends up front, but if you have a big group, more seating is available in back. And more importantly: More beer is available—in both the front and the back—than in most bars 'round these parts.

The Long Room has a number of international options (I'm told the Belgian list is quite impressive) in bottles, and about 20 beers on tap from Colorado, Wisconsin and other locales. And, on Wednesday nights, it has a stellar special: $1 off the already reasonably-priced microbrews.

I've just recently begun to get into decent beer (although I did drink myself silly last weekend on keg beer at a party—mmmmm, keg beer). So at first glance, I found the long list—which also lists the beers' alcohol content, which is great because sometimes it's much higher than you'd think—somewhat overwhelming. Seriously. I haven't done that much reading since the last time I bought an Atlantic Monthly at the airport.

So I asked the bartender for a recommendation, something not too heavy or too sweet. He peered thoughtfully at the list and selected a very smooth beer for me: the Victory Prima Pils. Served with a glass (without me even having to ask), it was tasty--and under $4. In short: exactly what I wanted. Victory, indeed.

But, as I finished my last sip, I realized we were nowhere near done catching up—so I began contemplating what my second beer would be. Bev tried to advise me, but she didn't know all of the types; Lisa was at a loss. So I picked the Mendocino Eye of the Hawk—because it sounded badass. It was. This beer was definitely more robust than the first, and had an alcohol content almost twice as high. But I liked it. And it liked me. By the time Lisa decided she was tired and had to take off, it was gone. Which meant it was that time of the night during which someone had to say "Let's get one more" or "Let's go." It was getting late. The tamale guy had been through twice. We probably should've gone home. But Bev just grinned. And I was back perusing the beer list ... confused ... and thinking of switching to drafts.

How impulsive of me.

Looking to try some microbrews at the Long Room? Check it out at 1612 W. Irving Park Rd., (773) 665-4500.


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