I continue to be drawn to Ironside Bar & Galley due to the rare, tempting beers on draft. It also doesn't hurt that the bar is centrally located in the River North "hood." I recently discovered one of the venue's greatest assets, bartender Alex Peters. He had me in stitches while serving up some remarkable brews.
Let's start with the refreshments. I was salivating while reading the description of Madagascar, an imperial milk stout by 4 Hands Brewing (get in my belly). This outstanding stout is my kind of dessert, full-bodied with notes of vanilla and chocolate.
My second choice was to go with something lighter and I settled on a refreshing, citrusy Steeped Emperor Lemon Saison by Moody Tongue Brewing. I should have stopped after this one; however, I was having way too much fun with Alex and Casey Graham (general manager).
I went all out with one from Revolution Brewing's Deep Wood Series. I have only had Vanilla Deth in a can, so I was stoked to have it on draft. This imperial oatmeal stout is mouthwatering, boozy, and full of vanilla flavor thanks to the hand-split vanilla beans.
Since I enjoyed the bartending as much as the beer, I decided to interview Alex, because inquiring minds wanted to know more.
Are you a bartender who moonlights as a comedian or a comedian who moonlights as a bartender?
I'm a comedian who pays his bills by bartending. I found that as soon as I called myself a comedian and not a bartender... I felt like I was on a path, not a treadmill.
How do you balance bartending, comedy, and running a production company?
Coffee. So much coffee. I get my schedule for work and then build my week of writing, filming, and editing around that.
What is your favorite beer style?
Craft beer depends on the time of year. A nice stout in the cold weather, a crisp Belgian during the summer, and a dirty sexy little PBR anytime I feel like chasing it with a shot of Chicago's finest booze.... Malort.
How does bartending assist with your comedy routines and vice versa?
Bartending gives me the time to sit back and listen to the stories of everyday humans. It affords me the unique opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist of What people are discussing. The Latin term " in Vino Veritas" means... in Wine there is truth. Put a couple of drinks in people and they will show you their truth. Sometimes it isn't pretty, but more often it's a chance for them to share their truth with a psychiatrist... one pint at a time.
What is Off the Clock Productions?
Off The Clock is a small production company that helps up and coming comedians get their material filmed professionally. For years and years, Chicago has been the goldmine for comedy greatness. It has been the place you come to train, network, and develop your skills before moving to L.A. or New York. Those cities have traditionally held the best equipment and opportunities to showcase comedic talent. With cameras becoming cheaper and easier to purchase... Chicago's goldmine of talent can now have a jewelry store right on top.
I got lucky a few years ago, to bartend down the street from Wrigley Field when they won the World Series. I made a considerable amount of money in a short time that allowed me to buy cameras, audio, and editing equipment. I taught myself how to use them, assembled a team of like-minded comedians (many of whom are also bartenders), and started filming.
In the next few years, as the company grows, we will offer small businesses the chance to handpick from our teams, writers and actors to create social media advertising. A small bar, for instance, can spend a quarter of their ad money on a short commercial to use on social media and the money goes right into the hands of the artists... allowing them more time to follow their dreams and more time away from their day to day jobs... Off The Clock.
To learn more about Alex and what he's up to, check out Off the Clock Productions.