Is Chicago the epicenter of the Craft Beer World? (At least for the next couple of weeks)
I’m getting dizzy trying to figure what and where I can get away with/to, in terms of beer events in our great metro area of Chicago. The big driver of course is the Craft Beer Conference being held here by the Brewers Association on April 7 through 10. An industry event that apparently is sold out, which gives a further proof point of the explosion currently being experienced by the craft business.
So last night the Two Beer Dudes, started the month right by attending an Oberon Release party at a large liquor chain store in downtown Chicago. Binny’s South Loop is cool in that it has a tasting room/bar that runs the length of the second floor sales room. One whole side of the bar is a long, glass window that looks out at the Chicago skyline. Bell’s traditionally releases Oberon along with the start of the baseball season (the big league), and in all states they distribute to there were release happening this week. We got attracted to this particular event for three main reasons. One, in addition to Oberon being on tap, they also had Hopslam, Oarsman, and Batch 9000. Don’t know about your neck of the woods, but Hopslam disappeared from the shelves here within a week or so…and you had to beg your local brew store to sell you one or two 12-oz bottle of the B-9k. The second reason was that Larry Bell himself, founder and owner of Bell’s was manning the taps. This was a big crowd and Larry worked hard to move through the room and do the meet/greet. Our beer geek moment was a chance to actually meet and briefly converse with the brewmaster. I’ve heard different things about the man, but in our brief conversation seemed interested in what people had to say and absolutely provided insight to inquiries about his beer / brewery. And, he’s truly one of the craft brewing pioneers, makes a high quality product, stand up for his principles, and I think is a die-hard Cubs fan. Oh, and the third reason we attended was that this Thursday night started a 3-day holiday weekend.
Okay, quickly to all the other stuff that I’d like to do this month. It’s crazy how many craft brewers will be in Chicago over the next two weeks and the shot at some one-time only brews and events. This list is by no means complete, there’s just too much to research. My suggestions is that of you don’t see anything of interest on my list do this. Google keyword of, “your favorite brew” along with “Craft Beer Conference” or “Chicago” or “April 2010”, and you might find other events….cause there’s lot’s of them.
Here’s the events I’d like to catch, in order of dates, sort of:
- Not technically part of the CBC, but obviously timed to coincide is the start of Stone Brewing distribution to Illinois. I’ve seen some descriptions that the level of activity by one craft brewer in one city for one week is an unprecedented marketing effort on the part of the Stone folks. Their event that caught my eye was a series of tapping/tasting events at all three Small Bar locations in the city on April 2 and they have a bus running between the three bars. Stone has literally multiple events every day from April 1 thru 8, look them up if interested.
- Dogfloydapalooza 2, it’s pretty obvious who this is. The FFF boys are holding their own concert and tasting party, along with the legendary Doghead Fish Craft Brewery at the very cool Bottom Lounge rock club. This event happened the night of Tuesday, April 6. You may want to check out the Bottom Lounges website for details on this and a couple of other brew happenings they are having in conjunction with the CBC.
- The Publican is a newish restaurant and upscale brew hall that gets really high marks for their food, atmosphere, and having really seriously good beer. They’ve got special brewers dinners almost every night of the CBC, but my attention was attracted to three late night events being held there. These special tasting don’t start until 10:30pm each of the three nights (April 7, 8, and 9). On April 7th is a joint event with Stone, FFFs, and Doghead Fish….outstanding! And the FFF’s boys will likely still be woozy from their party the night before…so attend and hit ‘em up for some tic’s to DLD. (just kidding)
- Lagunitas has a beer created with input from Chicago area chefs/cooks/foodies, it’s called Fusion and they only made a limited amount of the stuff. Apparently on April 7th they tap at a number of bars around Chicago and then that’s it. Sorry I didn’t get all the details, you’ll need to search more yourself. And, there something important about 4:20 pm on 4/7, but I’m not sure what it is.
- Also, on April 7th is another truly one-shot event with Short’s Brewing. The beer’s not distributed much outside of Michigan and is definitely not available in Chicago…except for this day. At 7:00 pm there will be (8) Short’s beers on tap at Sheffields. If you’ve never been to Sheffields, they got the best beer garden in the city, maybe the country. And, to be able to have Shorts on tap in eight flavors, well it’s one of those rare things we beer geeks flock to.
- On Thursday, April 8th there are two great events, but they are separate by enough time so you could make both. The first is local favorite, Flossmoor Station Brewery, holding a tapping of brews by two past and the current brewmasters. Oh, and this one stakes place at the legendary Map Room, maybe the number one brew bar in Chicago. Starts at 5:30 pm and each tapping is only a few gallons, so don’t be late.
- Then back over to Sheffields for a Michigan Brewers night. I already told you what a sweet venue this is. Now add the mega-strong lineup from the Michigan Brewers Guild, names like; Founders, Bells, Dark Horse, Jolly Pumpkin, Shorts, Acadia, New Holland, and more. Times listed are 9:00 – 11:00 pm.
Then if we survive all this, rest up for Dark Lord Day on the 24th.
Holy swinging monkeys, ain’t it great to be alive.