Chicago’s beer story is an historical one, full of the bawdiness that to this day continues the association of beer with the rougher parts of our civility. It’s political - in the burbs is where the temperance movement spawned, we’ve had workers riots and rallies, and our alderman would use their saloons to sway the vote. As American craft brewing brings beer back to the local, and hyperlocal level, some of these histories don’t seem so remote. Tied houses, saloon culture, and good old-fashioned bartending are newly refreshed in their relevance to our daily experience, but the ways in which history repeats itself are sometimes not what we expect.
Are breweries with taprooms the same concern as tied houses a hundred years ago? Does "local" mean the same thing in contemporary craft brewing? What’s the role of a bar when it’s not just the corner spot but some sort of craft beer concept, or a sportsbar.
And for today’s guest, a lot of that is tied to the role of the bartender themselves.
Bill Savage is a Chicago historian, writer, teacher, and long-time bartender going back some 30 years.
All of that has led to him being one of the most important voices in Chicago’s drinking culture, and that of our entire country.
His new project, The Old Time Saloon originally written by George Ade and resurrected by Bill, kicks off today’s conversation. And it serves as great window into many topics relevant to today’s craft beer drinker.