~ Cubs fan, beer fanatic, and all around lover of Chicago and its history. ~
I recently read an article in the Chicago Tribune about Liz Garibay, and knew she was the type of beverage professional we enjoy hanging out with. She has so much love for her city, Chicago, which we will be drinking our way through for the early June Caffeine Crawl. Her knowledge of history and dedication to beer and the Cubs made this Q&A with Liz so enjoyable. Next time you find yourself there, be sure to look into History On Tap, and we plan to have a drink with Liz this summer. - Jason
The LAB: If you could pick one historical site to have a beer, which would it be?
Liz: Wow, this is a tough one. There are so many people, cities, and time periods that fascinate me. Yet, many sites are no longer. So, I’m going to take this from the perspective of going back in time. I can’t pick just one, so I’ll let you decide from my wish list.
I’d so love to have a beer at the Sauganash Tavern in 1833 Chicago. It’s the bar where Chicago “grew up.” In 1833 city leaders met at the Sauganash and voted to make her a town. Four years later they would vote again and Chicago was a full fledged city. Seeing the beginnings of my beloved city would be amazing.
Other places and people would undoubtedly be the 1860s White House with my hero, Abraham Lincoln (he didn’t drink but he would be graciously holding an alcoholic beverage during our conversation so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable). The Lamb & Flag Pub in Dickensian London to throw back an ale with my favorite author (he would definitely be drinking and eating). Drinking beer and tequila in 1930s Mexico City with Frida Kahlo would be amazing just so I could watch her bad assery in action (she would, no doubt, drink me under the table).
Past or present, my favorite historic site to just be and beer is Wrigley Field. It’s my church.
The LAB: I love these answers, and would certainly join you with Abe (I think the two of us could get him to drink) and Frida.
The LAB: Is there a book, or movie that has inspired you lately?
Liz: I just finished Karen Abbott’s Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. It’s a fascinating look at a lesser known topic during one of the most discussed time periods in American history. Abbott is an incredible writer - anything she produces is going to be well researched, and will undoubtedly be a gripping read.
The LAB: A major motion picture company is doing a film on Chicago, and you are one of the characters. Which celebrity do you want to play you?
Liz: To think that I would be a character in a movie is a bit odd, but if I had to pick someone I’d probably go with Wanda Sykes. She’s funny and seemingly likes the drink. I tend to take a humorous approach to history and it’s proven fact that I like the drink. It could work.
Left: Chicago's legendary Old Town Ale House. Right: Geja's Cafe on West Ermitage Avenue.
The LAB: Outside of beer what is your go-to drink, or place to get this drink?
Liz: I love wine and, as shocking as it may sound, I rarely drink beer at home. At home it’s almost always Pinot Noir, on my couch. But, if I had to pick a local spot to enjoy the grape, it would be Geja’s Cafe or the Old Town Ale House (yes, they have good wine)!
The LAB: What is a major change that you feel needs to happen in Chicago in the next decade?
Liz: I could point out some obvious things, but I'm a beer glass half full kind of person. I'm fortunate to live in such a great city, we truly have it all. But we could really use a Cubs championship. I'd welcome that major change in a heartbeat.
Left: Dam Site Inn in Pellston, MI. Right: Ristorante Il Cacciatore in Cortona AR, Italy.
The LAB: You can pick one restaurant outside Illinois to coordinate a beer dinner with, which one do you pick?
Liz: Within the USA it would be the Dam Site Inn in Northern Michigan. It’s a historic place with the best fried chicken I have ever eaten. Outside the US it would be Il Cacciatore in Cortona, Italy. It’s a family run restaurant and my slice of heaven. Pair it with Italy’s current craft beer scene, it would be an unforgettable evening.
The LAB: Liz, these are great responses and any beer and food lover should put this on their travel agenda. I've personally have had Northern Michigan on my beverage bucket list for a while now.
The LAB: Do you think there should be a Bachelor's program in brewing in more universities?
Liz: Not necessarily. For anyone interested in brewing, I’d say focus on science. Making beer is a science, so if you dig deep and learn about the details, I think that not only gives you an advantage but it can make you a better beer maker. Mary Bauer at Lagunitas is a great example - she earned a degree in chemistry and then went on to brewing. Plus, how many 18 or 19 year olds have a true sense of what they want to do with the rest of their lives? I thought I would be an archaeologist forever, and then I realized it’s not what I wanted to do. Life experiences and exposure to people and places are important components to an overall education and ultimately provide clarity. I have this whole thing about college, so I won’t go off on a tangent. I’d also say that one of the oldest and most reputable beer education institutions is Siebel, so why not come to Chicago to learn to brew, drink great beer, and spend time in a phenomenal city? Yeah, yeah, I love Chicago.
The LAB: That's really good insight. I'm at this weird place with college in America, too. I took school real seriously, but have learned so much more traveling the country watching and listening than I ever did in a classroom. Archaeologist, huh? I could see that. I'd totally watch a film with you on a ancient beer hunt along the southern Mesopotamia.
Thanks again Liz for the time and insight. We'll toast a drink to you tonight. Cheers!