Party Planner: Boozy Book Club

Erica Thompson
John Blakely and Nathan McDowell

In 2011, Goose Island brewery sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev, marking the end of a two-decade run as an independently owned yet highly influential craft beer operation. It also signaled the beginning of a new era of growth not entirely welcomed in the craft beer industry.

That transition is explored in Josh Noel's bookBarrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business. The story will be the subject of the inaugural Boozy Book Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Brewery District location of The Daily Growler. Two Dollar Radio Headquarters will co-host.

“The definition of someone who was a sellout maybe 10 years ago is a lot different than what it is now,” said John Blakely, who owns The Daily Growler. “That's why you go into brewing: to grow. But it's also kind of like [Goose Island] joined the evil empire. So that's why I thought it'd be a good book for the first meeting, to elicit a lot of discussion. And a lot of people have strong opinions on both sides.”

Two Dollar Radio bartender and book club co-organizer Nathan McDowell's opinion is colored by his past experience as a brewer in Illinois. He also knows one of the brewers at Goose Island.

“He just has this amazing budget [to be creative],” McDowell said. “So as much as I hate Anheuser-Busch, I can understand why he would take the job.”

The Boozy Book Club will gather every other month, rotating between The Daily Growler and Two Dollar Radio Headquarters. Blakely and McDowell anticipate the “libations literature” theme can go in myriad directions.

“We could have books specifically about beer,” McDowell said. “Booze has played a big part of literature over the years. If I told you to think of a writer who was a drinker, and even their drink of choice, I'm sure a lot of people can think of some.”

But ultimately, the book choices will evolve based on the feedback from participants.

“I'm hoping to attract both people who are in the industry but then also people who are just looking for a way to stimulate their mind,” Blakely said.

Boozy Book Club is just one of a handful of reading groups already operating at Two Dollar Radio Headquarters.

“We try to be a community for literary-bent people,” McDowell said.

That community also includes booze enthusiasts.

“Definitely make sure to print that there will be alcohol served at all the book clubs,” Blakely said.

7:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12

702 S. High St., Brewery District

The Daily Growler