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Game of Thrones Fans Pack Division Street Bar for Non-Stop Viewing Binge

By Alisa Hauser | October 9, 2013 12:45pm | Updated on October 9, 2013 1:33pm
 Highlights from Jerry's Game of Thrones and Ommegang Brewery's "Take the Black Stout" night Tuesday.
Game of Thrones/Ommegang Night at Jerry's
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WICKER PARK — They might not have come bedecked in costume, but loyal fans of HBO's fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" were a rapt and thirsty crowd who caused a Division Street bar to drain two beer kegs within the first 90 minutes of a 7-hour TV watching binge ending in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jerry's, a bar and restaurant at 1938 W. Division St. in Wicker Park, played ten back-to-back episodes of the popular show's second season. 

The minutes flew by, initially aided by Ommegang Brewery's just-released Take the Black Stout, a rich dark beer with hints of chocolate and caramel, and Iron Throne, a Blonde ale released last spring.

 Ommegang Brewery released its' "Take the Black Stout" dark beer Tuesday at 6 p.m.  Jerry's bar sold out of the beer as well as Ommegang's Iron Throne in about 90 minutes.
Ommegang Brewery released its' "Take the Black Stout" dark beer Tuesday at 6 p.m.  Jerry's bar sold out of the beer as well as Ommegang's Iron Throne in about 90 minutes.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Both beers sold out within 90 minutes, said Trey Elder, Jerry's GM.

Dressed as "Khaleesi," waitress Ashley Meyer said, "It's like everybody's favorite night already."

Khalessi, whose husband killed her brother in the show and who is the daughter of a dead king, is Meyer's favorite "Game of Thrones" character.

"I already have the blond hair" like Khaleesi, Meyer joked before walking away to a table of four whose occupants seemed more concerned with a beheading taking place on a flat screen TV than giving Meyer their food order.

Initially the plan was to play a few episodes culled from the first three seasons at 8 p.m., but Elder said Wednesday they started the first episode of the second season at 6:30 p.m. "because so many people were already here."

Ommegang brewery's "Take the Black Stout," which sold for $7 per glass, refers to a process for outcasts and criminals who want to enlist in the Night Watch, an elite team tasked with guarding a giant wall of ice separating their seven kingdoms from the "untamed frozen wastelands beyond," according to Chris Coons, Jerry's curator of fermented beverages.

Coons said his favorite "Game of Thrones" character is Tyrion Lannister, a flawed "but well-intentioned dwarf"  who is a drunk and fan of brothels.

When asked which character he identifies with most, Coons said he "thankfully doesn't identify too strongly with any of them."

Take the Black Stout follows Ommegang's first Game of Thrones beer, Iron Throne, which was inspired by the seat of the ruler of the seven kingdoms.

While the New York-based brewery has official tabs on the series with its HBO-sanctioned beers, Coons said if he could match one beer with "Game of Thrones" it would be Solemn Oath's None More Black, a black Belgian Ale.

Citing "dozens of characters from a variety of lands and cultures" who need "a complex beer to represent" them, Coons said None More Black combines roasted and chocolate malts with fruits and spices that seem, conceptually, as if they'd be too much at odds with each other to result in a "balanced and delicious beer."

For his part, Elder said his favorite Game of Thrones character is Hodor, "a minor side character" that watches over Bran Stark, an injured son "from the one family not trying to be king, but they keep getting killed off."

The 200 people that packed the bar for the event was "about three or four times" more customers than  Jerry's would ordinarily see on a Tuesday night in early fall, Elder said.

Elder had placed several signs in the window of the family-friendly restaurant banning children due to the steamy and violent show.

"Please, no children. We'll be back to kid-friendly tomorrow after all the drinking, murder and inter-family relations," the sign said.

At one point, Elder closed the bar's window and turned off its speakers which project audio from the televisions onto the sidewalk.

One 22-year-old East Village resident, Kaitlin Lisle, brought her parents and boyfriend along.

"My dad loves this show. He turned me onto it," Lisle said of her father, who traveled from Oak Park to watch two episodes with his wife, daughter and Lisle's boyfriend.

Lisle said she likes "Game of Thrones" because it's "unabashedly violent and makes no apologies for what it is, it's just ...  graphic."

Bartender Steve Nolan admitted to being one of few people unfamiliar with the popular series.

"It's crazy," Nolan said of the snippets he was able to watch from between serving customers or when "people forced me to stop [serving] and watch certain scenes.

"I'm pretty sure a woman gave birth to a shadow baby that got stabbed and another woman was penetrated by a scepter with an animal head on it, " Nolan said.

When asked if he would watch "Game of Thrones" again, Nolan said he would, but not at work.

"I'd watch it alone, lights off. It's kind of kinky," he said.