Drink of the week:
A glass of Lagunitas Brown Shugga at Bricks
Pizza, 1909 N. Lincoln Avenue.
The damage: $5
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? I've been walking to work for the past couple months, mostly because I'm too lazy to carry my Cannondale down three flights of stairs. My two-mile trek takes me past Bricks, whose outside display caused me to hit pause on my iPod and take note. Unlike most bars with banners advertising cheap Miller Lite, Bricks' exterior features a glass display with bottles of Chimay and Unibroue tucked in between its menu and a flyer touting, “Fancy Beer Bottle Night.” Every Monday, the cost of the aforementioned Belgian ales, among others, gets knocked down a few bucks. Clearly, this bar takes its suds seriously, and it doesn't take much more than a quality beer list to get me through the doors.
How it went down: Turns out, the folks at Brick's (or, more specifically, manager Ben Richter) not only takes its brew selection seriously, but also has fun with it. Other than Stella and Summit Hefeweizen, the draft beers change frequently, including the mysteriously shrouded “Bricks Lager.” On my visit, Richter had just tapped a keg of Shugga he'd been keeping cool for months. The Lagunitas Brewery starts selling the seasonal, copper-colored goodness in October, but once it's sold-out, fans have to wait until next fall to get their fix—unless they come to Bricks.
Smartly stashing kegs keeps the pizza pub's customers guessing what comes next, but as I downed my drink, I knew what followed: Sweet Heat pizza, with gooey smoked gouda, rings of fresh jalapenos, thick chunks of crisp bacon, tender chicken and a tangy sauce. Shugga's slightly sweet taste, hints of molasses and light bitterness paired perfectly with the pie. And with a 9.9-percent alcohol content, I needed to devour as much of that thin-crust as possible.
Would I want to become a regular? Sure, Bricks would've sold me on its delicious pizza and beer offerings alone, but its darkly lit, subterranean setting, with quirky artwork and John Coltrane playing on the juke, made it all the better. And, as if to drive its thoughtfulness home, I learned Bricks also recently began recycling all of its bottles, cardboard, paper and plastics.
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.