The Map Room opened in November, 1992. We had only vague ideas about how to flesh out our “Traveller’s Tavern” theme, just getting the bar running in the neighborhood as it was in ’92 was a challenge enough.
We started trying to carry beers from every country we could. That seemed a good start to the travel theme. Problem was, we knew nothing about beer. Nor did many of the people trying to sell it to us – much of Chicago at the time was in the dark about beer; new, exciting things were coming into the market, but few understood them. I remember talking to Jerry Glunz about “ice-brewed” beer and what was it? We both seriously tried to separate the marketing from the facts. It seems it took such a long time for us to figure out that there is no such thing as “ice-brewing.”
We had the happy serendipitous luck of meeting Greg Browne, who was a homebrewer at the time. On a blizzardy February night he taught us our first “Beer School” and knocked our socks off. We realized there was a whole world of styles and traditions and stories about beer. At the same time, we were also fortunate enough to meet the Chicago Beer Society. Not only did this group help educate us, they became staunch supporters of what we were trying to do. We would not have survived without them.
We began intensive study on the subject, reading all we could about beer. We came across a text mentioned in the Beer Encyclopedia called The Great Good Place. Not specifically about beer, The Great Good Place is about how important good bars can be to communities. We wanted to be that kind of place, where all different people felt welcome, where ideas could be exchanged, where people could come to get some good social nourishment. What a better beverage to feature than beer? A most democratic drink!
The travel theme seemed to flesh itself out when we got serious about beer. Almost every trip we take now revolves around beer – visiting breweries and pubs all over the world. Our beer community is vast! Our community is vast. We are grateful for that – regular customers and semi-regular customers of all walks of life. These men and women complete the Map Room. Hopefully, here, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”