Ice curling offers fun winter activity for Chicago residents

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Courtesy of Kaiser Tiger

The hardest part about winter in Chicago can be finding things to do. During the summer you have the beach, the zoo, outdoor sports and plenty of other options. One of the best things about summer is the ability to be able to go out and sit outside to enjoy the weather. 

When it’s cold, you don’t really have that option. 

Except at a certain Chicago bar in the West Loop, Kaiser Tiger. 

Kaiser Tiger is known for its beer garden and outdoor activities that come along with it. During the summer, you can play ping-pong or use the pinball machines and other activities they have set up outside. During the winter, they take it to a whole other level with one of the most popular winter Olympic sports: ice curling. 

“If you can’t beat winter, you need to join it,” Chris Latchford, the owner of Kaiser Tiger, told the Chicago Tribune. “When I found out that I can be open with the beer garden all year long, I started thinking about what would be pretty cool to put out there. For some reason, ice curling came into my brain.”

A Winter Olympic sport, ice curling originated in Scotland during the 16th century, making it one of the oldest team sports. Although most popular in the Midwest and Northeastern parts of the United States, there are curling clubs both official and unofficial in 44 states, according to kccurling.com. 

Kaiser Tiger is one of the only bars in Chicago that keeps its outdoor beer garden open all year round with available winter activities, giving them the one-up on other bars in town. 

“That place is the best,” said Sam Cleary, a 28-year-old West Loop resident. “I’ve honestly only been there in the winter because it’s hard to find things to do when it’s cold out. Rather than sit at home and drink, why not go slide some stones on ice and drink some beers by the heaters with friends. It’s really something to look forward to.”

The beer garden has three ice curling rinks available. Only four people are allowed to be on each rink at a time, and it costs $40 per lane per half hour. If you get a group of four to eight people, it becomes a pretty cheap night with something fun to do. 

“Although you aren’t able to sweep the ice and get the full curling experience,” said Erin Ostojic, a 27-year-old Chicago resident. “It’s more of the chance to play a unique sport and do an outdoor activity with your friends in some miserable Chicago winter weather.”

Since they decided to make the rinks in 2015, it has become one of the most popular Chicago bars to go to during the wintertime. 

“I think it’s an indication of how people are just dying to do something, dying to be out there in the elements having some fun,” Latchford told the Chicago Tribune. “From the moment we set it up, people have been out there no matter what the weather.”

Not only is it something fun to do, but also something unique that you don’t get the opportunity to do every day. 

Kaiser Tiger is one of the only few places that gives you the opportunity to play this Olympic sport in Chicago. If you want to learn how to play before going out to Kaiser Tiger, the Gallagher Way Park at Wrigley also has a curling rink with local curling coaches there to give lessons on etiquette, technique and the overall rules of ice curling. 

“When it comes to winter, most people think about ice skating and hockey,” said Ryan Maher, a 26-year-old Chicago resident. “I know I sure as hell can’t ice skate, so other winter activities like ice curling and sledding are more fun to me. It’s not even about the game itself, but the opportunity to be at a bar getting served drinks and being greatly accommodated while we do a fun activity like curling is what it’s all about. It definitely keeps you coming back.”

With most people on their holiday breaks, finding some winter activities to look forward to is a must.