Team: The Chicago Dogs
Affiliate: N/A (American Association of Independent Professional Baseball)
Ballpark Basics: A shiny new park that is still working out the kinks.
Ballpark Breakdown: One would think with two MLB teams as well as the Frontier League hosting a number of independent teams in the surrounding area that Chicago would have its fill of baseball. The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball thought not and added one more team into the mix with the addition of the Chicago Dogs for the 2018 season. Shoehorned between two flight paths into O’Hare and Interstate 294 barreling behind the outfield wall, Impact Field is the shiny new diamond that anchors a newly created entertainment district in Rosemont, Illinois.
A parking garage is attached to ballpark and there is a three dollar charge to park for games. The ballpark has a black and grey color theme with red accents throughout the park. The seats are a dark grey and the outfield wall is black. The suites sit behind the wide and open concourse with multiple concession stands along the first level.
On our visit it was clear to see that there were going to be some growing pains with the new team. It started before we even entered the park. We were there on a relatively quiet eventing where the ballpark appeared to be about a third filled. However, the line to get in stretched 20-30 people deep. This was due to one person need to wand everyone that entered the park (even small children). We understand the need for security but this seemed a bit overkill.
Unfortunately lines were a theme of the evening. With a smaller than usual crowd, the team had closed down some of their concession stands. Ultimately this led to the remaining stands to back up with longer than usual lines for such a sparse crowd.
Best Spot For Beer: This is another area where the team was lacking. The two main beer sponsors are Miller Lite and Leinenkugel’s (with a large suite area dubbed the Leinie Lodge along the third base side). The Miller Lite Bullpen is in the right field corner and gives another option for group seating. Each of the concession stands had both beers on tap but there weren’t any other beers represented on our visit. The only beer that was unique to Impact Field was Dog’s Best Friend, a lager created for the team by Leinenkugels.
Impact Field was designed by the same team that designed CHS Field in St. Paul, and they often get compared to each other. Just like CHS Field, Impact Field was also named Best Independent Ballpark in its opening season by Ballpark Digest. However, on our visit we found very different vibes from each ballpark. While CHS Field was in the middle of downtown, Impact Field felt a little sterile being part of a large entertainment complex. While both ballparks have wide concourses, CHS Field had the suites over the concourse, giving fans some much needed shade during day games. The crowds at each ballpark also affected the atmosphere: while CHS Field was bustling, the smaller crowd at Impact Field gave it a more amateur feel. Couple this with the fact that CHS Field has an entire corner of the ballpark dedicated to local and craft beer while Impact Field has none. Unfortunately on our visit the Chicago Dogs just didn’t cut the mustard.
Short Fuse Brewing Co.
Rating: Double, attempting to steal third
Brew Basics: Unique beers in a pricier setting. All quite/easily drinkable, but not for a beer purist.
For this one, we were joined by extra special guest reviewers, Gillian’s mom (70) and Grandmother (90), hereafter just referred to as “mom” and “gramma”. To begin with, Short Fuse is in the part of town where, as we pulled in with said special guests, Gillian asked Jim if he’d actually vetted this brewery. It didn’t feel unsafe, just deserted and industrial. We were then pleasantly surprised when we opened the doors and went in.
The commercial part of Short Fuse is made up primarily of two rooms. Though originally part of what seems to be a warehouse, the walls are painted white, which gives a warm vibe to an otherwise concrete and cinder block building. They’ve got high-gloss wooden tables with plastic chairs the color of steel (and some booths) and a similarly designed bar and bar stools all of which combine to accommodate any sized party. The walls have been splashed with murals reminiscent of those painted on WWII era Bombers, and a bright colorful chalkboard with a host of brews.
There are lots to choose from, but when it comes to flights they have a list of current options, and you either pick the left or right side to make up a “half stick” or both for a “full stick”. They had enough on tap that ordering a half stick still brought 8 beers to the table. Here’s what we thought, guest reviewer notes included. One of whom is a certified chef with a good nose and palate, and one of whom is a hilarious 90 year old who shall we say is “not accustomed” to higher gravity beers. Take these notes as you will.
Red Juice Cannon 9.8 ABV/28 IBU – Brass colored and very fruity, mom thought this one was “pleasantly complex and drier than expected”. Overall, this tasted like it smelled, with a fruit forward palate that left little room for malts or hops, but was still highly drinkable. Gramma liked this one.
Coffee Van Damme 6.5/14– Orangey-brass colored, with an aroma that smelled of strong coffee grounds. Mom thought this one was “more interesting going in your mouth than out of your mouth” and we had to agree. Though the bouquet showed promise, the beer itself was quite flat. Gramma found it too bitter, and reminded us that she liked beer one.
Pomegranate Gose with Sea Salt and Lime Zest 5.5/12 – The fruit here really cut the saltiness, making this hazy, dark yellow beer one of the more palatable goses we’ve had. Again however, there was little recognizable in the way of malts, hops or yeast in a beer that is easily compared to a fruity margarita with a fruity punch and a nod to salt. Still highly drinkable, but those looking for a good ‘ole beer won’t find it here. Lighter than the previous two in both overall body and abv.
Purple Juice Cannon 9.8/28 – The grape version of our earlier Red Juice Cannon, and a substitute on our Half Stick as they were out of the Belgian listed. While the Red Juice Cannon was positively received by all (as gramma reminded us after pretty much every beer) this was not. The Purple Cannon was grapey to the point of having a jelly-like finish. Or as one of our guests commented “like the grape jelly packets they have in restaurants that are labeled “mixed fruit”. Despite the purple and red identifiers, this Juice Cannon had an almost identical hue as the first. Labeled a Double New England IPA, the juice aspect was there, but the haze and hops were absent except for a slight hop nod at the end.
Bottle Rocket 8.0/35 A highly clarified caramel colored Belgian IPA that was the gold of a 1970’s bar. Belgian hops prevailed here in a spiced character with peppery finish. Bitterness is there, but is more tangy than tart, and the hops are well contained in the middle of the beer. Off all eight tasters, this one was the most traditional. Though delicious, Gramma wants you to know she still likes beer one best.
Loosey Juicy 6.4/35 This NEIPA pours banana yellow and very hazy with an aroma that Gramma thought was “quite smart”, but is more identifiable as hoppy and tropical. This palate is pervasive in taste as well, with the taste matching closely to the smell. Mango and papaya notes compliment the hops and make this a fairly well rounded, if slightly over-sweetened beer.
Golden Shower 4.8/20 Very pale, and both color and effervescence are close to that of champagne. The flavor, like the bouquet was light and overall there was nothing particularly distinctive about it other than the yeasty finish.
5000 N River Road
Schiller Park, IL 60176