October 16, 2008


I’m not a morning person.

Yesterday, Half Pint roused me from my sleep before 6, and I reluctantly dropped her off at O’Hare. From there, I made my way around the Loop and zipped from Chicago, around Lake Michigan, stopping in Munster, Indiana. You can’t pass through
Munster and not hit the 12-year-old father/sons operation, Three Floyds brewery and brewpub. I mean, you can, but you’d be an idiot. I arrived at 8:30 a.m, which was both a blessing and curse. A curse because they don’t open til 11:30, but it was a blessing to take a nice nap in my car, with the sound of the rain on the roof lulling me to sleep. Once open—and no, I’m not the only person who’s ever stood by at 11:29 waiting for them to open the doors—I sat down to a flight, plus some extra tastings, and a right-on smoked turkey sandwich. Best beer with the sandwich? “Ham on Rye,” a smoked rye beer (no ham added). Best beer I enjoyed? Moloko Milk Stout, named in honor of Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (FYI, “moloko” is just Russian for milk), and I picked up a bomber to take home.

After stopping in at a nearby Dunkin Donuts for coffee and a pumpkin donut, I continued on to western Michigan. (I am a donut connoisseur, but I like to hit DD when in Rome. Or Munster. Because I don’t have ‘em at home. Same for the White Castle I had for b-fast. Who are they fooling with that paper-thin “meat” patty?)

Once I hit Michigan, despite the torrential downpour and the sizable population of deer roadkill, the view became scenic again, with brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and greens. I arrived in Kalamazoo at 5 p.m. and told the guys at Bell’s Eccentric Café that I was just going to find a room for the night and that I’d be back at 6. I didn’t realize that I’d driven across the last of the time zones and it was, in fact, 6, Eastern. OK, so it started closer to 7.

I added the event in Kalamazoo, because I had a day between Chicago and Pittsburgh. As such, there wasn’t enough time to bring in a retailer, but they let me park it at a table, sell my own books, and they fed and libated me all night. I know libated isn’t a word. The bison burger was tasty and I enjoyed a Bell’s Best Brown and then their special Wedding Ale, a strong honey wheat with orange peel, but don’t think “witbier.”

The thing about Kalamazoo, it seems, is that most people here know Larry Bell’s whole story. True, I got some extra nuggets in the book that they didn’t know, but ‘round here, it’s like a family: no secrets. I got to talk to some of the brewers like Tom and Jay, as well as some barflies. I didn’t sell that many copies, but hey, I got to hang out in the Eccentric Café again, and that’s treat enough.

Now I’m headed back there to pick up some beers, but sadly, they’re out of Oberon, their best-seller. Then it’s almost 400 miles to Pittsburgh to go to church.

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