The interior of Public House
Inside Public House

At precisely 3:30 yesterday afternoon, I found myself at Public House, the River North bar with the do-it-yourself beer taps that I’d last visited in December, when the 10,000-square-foot behemoth was still under construction.

As bars go, Public House is a mind-boggler—not in a bad way, but in an excessively fun, Disneyland-for-drinkers kind of way, especially if you’re a guy’s guy (which I’m not). Just take a look at the bar’s “stats” page: a seven-foot HD video wall, six cicerones (a.k.a. beer sommeliers) on staff, 12 booths outfitted with table taps, 103 different beers on offer. And don’t forget the Multiple Choice Mac & Cheese ($8 and up), pretty waitresses in preppy polos by day and low-cut tanks by night, and the never-miss-a-point convenience of being able to pour your own beer without actually having to interact with said waitresses. What Cabela’s is to outdoorsmen, Public House is to indoorsmen: Everything you need, right at your fingertips.

The reason for my early-drinking visit? In part, I was taking the lightweight’s approach to the bar, which can become a packed-to-the-gills, reserve-your-tap-two-weeks-in-advance scenario on weekends (a few dudes having a late lunch and watching ESPN highlights is my idea of manageable). Also, I’d been invited to try some of the beers that will be on offer this weekend, during the bar’s salute to one of golf’s greatest events, the Masters.

From 3 to 7 p.m. today through Sunday, as the Augusta, Georgia, tournament airs on Public House’s 27 flat-screens (and don’t forget that video wall), Chicago drinkers can play their own Brew Masters course. For $20, patrons can try nine 3-oz samples of Goose Island beer (think nine holes): Matilda, Dominique, Marisol, Sofie, Lolita, Green Line, Pepe Nero, Fleur, and Indira. It’s a good deal if you’ve been meaning to try some of the hometown-for-now brewery’s fancier beers. It’s also your chance to brush up on Golden Tee and test-drive the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters game for PS3.

In a nod to the girlfriends and wives who may or may not doze off during these festivities (I know, I know: I’ve heard some women like golf), $10 of each round benefits Bright Pink, the local organization devoted to breast- and ovarian-cancer support and education.


Photograph: Jeff Schear