Cause of, solution to, life's problems

To quote another Brett (but I spell mine with one 'T'), "Yes, we drank beer. My friends and I. Boys and girls. I liked beer. Still like beer."

I've moved on from my '80s Old Style days with the rise of the craft beer/microbrewery scene around 2010. Back then, Three Floyds was, and remains, a 5-minute drive from my parent's house. When supply ran low, my dad was a willing interstate beer mule, delivering fresh Zombie Dust cases. As luck would have it, one of my 21 cousins in/around northwest Indiana eventually became a Three Floyds brewer, so then I had an "in" to their Dark Lord stouts as well.

There was a small band of Hinsdale beer geek dads (Terry, Peter, Chris, Tris, Scott, Gregg) that would trade product (mainly IPAs) obtained on West Coast (Pliny the Elder) or Northeast Coast (Heady Topper) business trips. My preferences eventually steered toward the NE IPAs - hazy hop forward with a drier finish (hence the earlier beer geek dad designation).

Starting around 2015 to present, the Chicago area has exploded with breweries jumping on the hazy train. Today it's easy to find offerings of New England style hazy IPAs with a Midwest twist (kind of the best of both coasts) - Pipeworks, More, Maplewood, Phase Three and my personal favorite, Hop Butcher. In addition to the tasty beer, you can visit many of these microbreweries if you're up for some day drinking (in moderation of course). Drag the kids along as most have board games or shuffleboard and count that as "quality time." Helpful hint: If you find yourself in the middle of Paducah, Ken., on a business trip, throw "brewery" into Waze. That's how I ended up spending a few hours at Dry Ground Brewing, which helped me forget I was stuck in Paducah. Works for any town or any location.

Bartenders are friendly, the scene is welcoming and the food is typically decent. Even on vacations, I've made stops at WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley, Colo.; Fieldwork in Berkeley, Calif.; and Calusa in Sarasota, Fla.; to name a few.

The rise of microbreweries has had a corresponding rise in taprooms, basically bars that serve and sell locally crafted selections. Solid options include Orange & Brew in Downers (where my Hoosier mate Rogo and I caught IU's Big 10 Tourney win over U of I). Even Whole Foods-Willowbrook had an in-store taproom pre-pandemic where the Hockey Dads would kill time until practice ended (I'm hoping it reopens during spring hockey). We now have a bikeable (or walkable for you west siders) option with the opening of Open Door in Clarendon Hills. I met one of the founders, Dillon, when he ran a small taproom out of Prestige Wine & Spirits on Cass. Open Door consistently has great product on tap, but they also sell four-packs to go. Stop by on a Thursday for a fresh Hop Butcher drop and join the ranks of beer geekdom.

- Bret Conway of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].