Warm Buzzes in Distant Lands.

Back in what seems like eons ago, enveloped in a cold, black October, my then-wife and I separated. For about six weeks I was homeless. I wasn’t living on the street or anything like that, and I very well could have just gone back to our Lakeview apartment to sleep. But sadly, going back there during that time felt less like home to me than crashing on a friend’s perpetually deflating air mattress surrounded by roaches, or even dozing all night in my company vehicle parked in some random residential Chicago neighborhood.

Through one lens, this era might be viewed as an incredibly sad, frigid and depressive season. This is also around the time when I first discovered Bourbon County Brand Stout. I may not have had a set residence, but I had all the freedom in the world. Through my lens, after a grating, stressful, bitter marriage, the temporal window during my separation was one of the most reparative times in my life.

I had lived in Chicago for six years but I had almost zero knowledge of most neighborhoods. I knew Lakeview and Wicker Park, and I also knew South Loop and Little Italy from my time in college. Ukrainian Village, Pilsen, and Humboldt Park might as well have been foreign lands up until that period. I felt that I connected a lot with Logan Square, and to be honest a lot of it was me not wanting to spend any time near or around Lakeview. Unfortunately places like Long Room and the past, four-hour stints with a friend there attempting to hash out my situation, soon reminded me of nothing but stress.

My friend Jason who was living in Ukrainian Village, spotted a paper flyer at Dominick’s grocery store that stated a keg of Bourbon County Stout was going to be tapped at some placed called Dorothy’s Liquors.

Dorothy’s is no longer open, but at the time I would come to find an ultra-dive place near Scofflaw at Kedzie and Armitage. It was one of those places where the vinyl flooring was yellowed and peeling up at the corners. Weird smells emoting from unknown sources and a thin, flimsy bar top which felt like particle board, with accompanying wobbly chairs were all there to do nothing but detract from ambiance. I’m usually uncomfortable drinking in places with big refrigerators full of bottles and cans for sale in the same room. But this happy syrup called Bourbon County had me at Dorothy’s every night after work for what seemed like a damn week straight. I could not stay away.

I sat there night after night sipping that rich, black nectar springing from a 1/6th barrel keg which never seemed to kick. Even though no regular at that bar cared to converse with anyone else, let alone me, the guy not drinking from a shaker pint, that infinite geyser of oak barrel-aged elixir brought forth life. In my world, I was the the only one who knew what Bourbon County was. Combined with being the only one who knew what and where Dorothy’s Liquors was, this led me to heights quickly offsetting the idea that I had no residence. That keg was mine.

It’s true I had no home. I didn’t need anyone. Sitting there in that puzzling bar, my future felt as warm as the nightly buzz from my snifter.


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