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Abita Brewing Company - Jockamo IPA (3) Bell's Brewery - Hopslam (3) Big Sky Brewing Company - Bobo's Robust Porter (3) Midwest Brewers Fest (3) Mother Earth Brewing - Sisters Of The Moon IPA (3) Oskar Blues Brewery - Ten Fidy (3) 21st Amendment Brewery - Brew Free! Or Die IPA (2) Abita Brewing Company - Restoration Pale Ale (2) Ale Asylum - Hopalicious (2) Ayinger Brewery - Celebrator Doppelbock (2) Bell's Brewery - Octoberfest Beer (2) Bell's Brewery - The Oracle (2) Bell's Brewery - Two Hearted Ale (2) Boulder Beer Company - Hazed & Infused (2) Brau Brothers Brewing Company - Pale Ale (2) Breckenridge Brewery - 471 IPA (2) Breckenridge Brewery - Christmas Ale (2) Crow Peak Brewing Company - 11th Hour IPA (2) Cucapa Brewing Company - Chupacabras Pale Ale (2) Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - 90 Minute IPA (2) Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Punkin Ale (2) Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Squall IPA (2) Flying Dog Brewery - Raging Bitch (2) Fort Collins Brewery - Rocky Mountain IPA (2) Fort Collins Brewery - Z Lager (2) Founders Brewing Company - Centennial IPA (2) Founders Brewing Company - Devil Dancer (2) Founders Brewing Company - Double Trouble (2) Founders Brewing Company - Founders Pale Ale (2) Founders Brewing Company - Red Rye P.A. (2) Grand Teton Brewing Company - Trout Hop Black IPA (2) Great American Beer Festival 2010 (2) Great Lakes Brewing Company - Conway's Irish Ale (2) Green Flash Brewing Company - Hop Head Red Ale (2) Green Flash Brewing Company - West Coast IPA (2) Half Acre Beer Company - Daisy Cutter (2) Half Acre Beer Company - Meat Wave (2) Kona Brewing Company - Wailua Wheat (2) Lagunitas Brewing Company - Hop Stoopid Ale (2) Magic Hat Brewing Company - #9 Not Quite Pale Ale (2)

Entries in Midwest Brewers Fest (3)

Monday
Aug292011

The Inaugural Midwest Brewers Fest: Twelve hours of sun, fun, beers and cheers.

It is 9:17 am on Saturday, August 27th and Jason Thalman looks like a test monkey injected with some form of psychotic energy serum. He rocks back and forth with a sense of excited and nervous trepidation that is almost tangible. Around us a swarm of people in neon green volunteer shirts scatter and scamper like leaf-cutter ants building a refuge. In a sense they are really, they are building a one day refuge for craft beer purveyors and connoisseurs from all across the Midwest. “Calm down man,” I implore him. But Jason just lets out a string of expletives and mumbles a faintly audible prayer to the beer gods for success and luck.

The scene around us began 10 months previously when Jason was approached by Dale Lewis (owner of Finnegan's Irish Pub) about a vision to throw a craft beer festival in Plainfield. The goal was to gather as many brewers as possible to culminate in an August beer festival to raise money for the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation. They envisioned a craft beer extravaganza where like minded beer lovers could sip under the summer sun for charity. But on that cold October day, August (and any chance of success) seemed like light years away.

Jason and I prowl the grounds looking for any project we can help out with. We walk some heavy boxes, toward the entrance gate, that contain the day’s programs. Behind the gate is the VIP lounge where guests who paid extra can try some exclusive and amazing rare beers and munch down on awesome beer food. Beyond the VIP tent lays a food area where non-VIP’s can buy pizza, bbq, sausages or sample some delectable chocolate covered bacon (donated by Whole Foods). The center of the grounds contains three adjacent tents which will house over 50 breweries from all over the country including New York and California.

The grounds are awesome. Jason walks down to the music stage where bands will be playing all day including local favorites and headliners, The Jack Pines. What catches my eye is the amount of space. There is ample shade, both natural and manmade. There are porta potties every 50 feet and even a smoking area/ cigar shop. It is now ten 10 am and things seem to be going smoothly… maybe too smoothly.

We help a duo from Green Bush brewing out of Sawyer, Michigan unload some kegs before wandering to the last beer tent. At the final tent Jason and I chat up the guys from Wild Onion Brewery, a local establishment. We discuss the advantages of bottles versus cans and banter about the intricacies of a tasty pumpkin beers. We are less than an hour away and everything is going awesome… until the cops kick me out.

Since I was not an official volunteer (no bright green shirt) I was told I had to be outside the festival grounds until the official opening at noon. You can tell the cops are nervous about this event and think this is going to be a raucous and debauchery laden drunk fest. It appears they have confused craft beer drinkers with Budweiser drinkers. While I get my wristband and beer tickets I run into a fellow beer blogger.

Tom from theperfectlyhappyman.com came over and introduced himself. Tom was all smiles and extremely amiable. We discussed and then finalized a beer trade and plotted out which brews we wanted as we scanned the (amazingly detailed and elaborate) program.

By noon a 100 early birds were already in line waiting for the fest to open, which it did, right on time. I made a b-line for the Wild Onion tent and started the day with a pumpkin ale. The sun was shinning, the river was rambling behind me and life was good. Tom, his lovely girlfriend and I all exchange pleasantries and enjoyed our first tasting of the day. They snuck off to the VIP tent and I made a trip over to try some Stone 15th Anniversary Black IPA. This was the first beer of the day that the knocked my socks off! 15th anniversary was dark and peppery. The spicy bite was amazingly original and unlike any beer I have ever tried.

“I cannot believe we actually pulled this off!” I hear Jason yell from behind  me as he jogs up over my shoulder. He had just got done introducing the first band of the day. Looking down the grounds toward the entrance we glimpse a steady stream of people coming through the gates. After patting Jason on the back and thanking him for the ticket we grabbed some food and pulled up a seat in a shaded area under a tent.

After a few minutes fellow TGBOAT crewmember Rafael shows up and cracks some jokes and engages in some beerversation. Jason begins to tell me just how much planning, pleading, begging, swearing and organizing went into this event. Jason’s friend Shannon, who works at Oskar Blues, shows up and gave us some sweet swag. Everyone is smiling, happy and rightly so. I have already met more awesome people in two hours than most folks met in a month..  

By about 2:30 I was ready to really get my tasting on. I had an hour before I was going over with Jason to work the Beer 101 booth. There was a “buzz” building (bad pun intended) about B. Nectar a mead maker from Detroit. I sampled Orange Blossom Mead which was made with honey from Florida bees that pollinate a citrus orchard. It was freaking delicious with a natural orange flavoring. I also had a very tasty copper ale from Shipwrecked brewing out of Egg Harbor, Wisconsin.

By 3:30 I walked myself and my buzz over to work the Craft Beer 101 booth, little did I know how awesome the day was about to get. Working the booth was a blast! People in the craft beer world are all so damn friendly. I answered questions ranging from the common and honest to the strange and even tackled some that were downright freaking absurd with my favorite being, “should I be worried about making people go blind with my homebrew?” Around this time Lance Martin, a recent craft beer lover we meet on Facebook showed up. The man, the myth, the legend, Dave Tex Richards (whom we spoke with earlier) sung by the tent. Then Suds Savant and The Chicago Beer Geeks showed up and all fun broke loose.

Jason and I were finally able to meet a few dudes who we had only previously met in cyberspace. It was like meeting some long lost brothers and only took about five minutes before we were chatting like lifelong friends. These next few hours ended up being some of the most fun I had had in months. Jason ran off to MC the toast and lead the crowd in a surprise rendition of happy birthday directed toward fellow co-founder Dale Lewis.  I wandered off with Suds and Nik from Chicago Beer geeks to finish the last two hours in style.

We “sampled” a ton of great beers over the next two hours. I enjoyed beers from Clown Shoes, New Holland, Limestone, Goose Island, Stone, Dogfish Head, Flossmoor Station, Destihl, Big Muddy, 5 Rabbits, Brickstone, Argus, Two Brothers, Half Acre, Revolution, and New Belgium. I also found Matthias from Haymarket which is an IIPA that defies description. The two hours I spent with Suds and Nik were amazing and hilarious. The comradery that the three of us shared is really what craft beer is all about.

Everyone I talked to was really positive about the festival as a whole. Many were shocked that this was the inauguration of the event. Whether it was the homebrew tent, the awesome glass blowing display, the stellar local live music or the light-hearted conversation, this festival had something to offer everyone. I won’t pretend the fest was perfect, parking seemed to be an issue as well as a 15 minute premature cut-off time, however; this was one hell of a first attempt.

I think everyone involved in the Midwest Brewers Fest has something to be proud of from the organizers who labored away, the volunteers who gave up time and the brewers, many of which donated beer. The people of Plainfield should be proud of themselves as well. Everyone was well behaved, clean and courteous. I spent over 12 hours on the festival grounds and was never bored or disappointed once. In the end The Midwest Brewers Fest was everything it was dreamed up to be: A great time, at an awesome location with amazing beer, friendly and passionate people and a sense of community that raised money for a great cause. I truly believe that the Midwest Brewers Fest is a testament to exactly what craft beer and craft beer drinkers stand for.

Cheers,

Wes

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Monday
Aug222011

Midwest Brewers Fest – This Has Been A Public Service Announcement (Part 2)

We are just a few short days away from a culmination of a ton of work, effort and planning.  The inaugural Midwest Brewers Fest is this Saturday August 27th and I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am that all of the hard work that has been put into this event will come to fruition.  I am so proud of all of our committee members and the work and sacrifice everyone has put into the Midwest Brewers Fest.

I am going to do my best to provide you with some of the details of the Midwest Brewers Fest and what you can look forward to during this inaugural event:

The Breweries – We have strived so hard to bring a collection of breweries that would offer our attendees the best possible variety of different Craft Beers to sample.  While I don’t have the list of which beers will be brought by which breweries but here is the list of breweries that will be attending the Midwest Brewers Fest:

5 Rabbit Brewing Company                     Abita Brewing Company

Anchor Brewing Co.                                 Argus Brewing Company

Big Muddy Brewing Company                  Big Sky Brewing Company

Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)       Boulevard Brewing Company

Breckenridge Brewery                             Brewery Ommegang

Brickstone Brewing Company                  Brooklyn Brewery

Central Waters Brewing Company          Chicago Beer Company                                

Clown Shoes Beer                                   Crispin Cider Worldwide

Crown Valley Brewing Company              Destihl Rest & Brewery

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery                    Emmett’s Brewing Company

Finch’s Beer Company                             Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Flossmoor Station Brewery                     Founders Brewing Company

Galena Brewing Company                       Goose Island Beer Company

Gordon Biersch Brewing                          Granite City Brewery

Great Lakes Brewing Company               Great River Brewing Company

Greenbush Brewing Company                 Half Acre Beer Company

Haymarket Pub & Brewery                      Ipswich Ale Brewery

Lagunitas Brewing Company                  Lakefront Brewing Company

Limestone Brewing Company                 Lost Coast Brewing Company

Lunar Brewing Company                        Magner’s Irish Cider

Mendocino Brewing Company                Napa Smith Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing                             New Holland Brewing Company

North Coast Brewing Company              Revolution Brewing Company

Rock Bottom Brewing Company (OP)     Shipwrecked Brewing Company

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company          Smuttynose Brewing Company

Southern Tier Brewing Company           Stockholm’s Vardshus

Stone Brewing Company                       Two Brothers Brewing Company

Uinta Brewing Company                        Wild Onion Brewing Company

That is 56 breweries, our goal was 50 and to surpass this goal has been an accomplishment we are all very proud of.  I know that there are quite a few in this list that I am personally really excited about having at the fest and you should be too.  In addition, for those of you that are lucky enough to have purchased VIP tickets, you will be provided with some rare selections from the breweries above in the VIP tent.

I have to mention that this event would not be possible if it wasn’t for our amazing title sponsors, Finnegan’s Irish Pub in Plainfield, Limestone Brewing Company in Plainfield, Local Lister Technology in Naperville, Pints for Prostates, The River 95.9, Two Brothers Brewing Company and Whole Foods in Naperville.  We are very appreciative of their continued support and for assisting us in putting on this event.  We have a huge list of active partners that have greatly assisted in this event and you can see the official list here.

In addition to the event being held at the beautiful and spacious Riverfront Park in Plainfield we have a variety of different events to keep attendees busy during the Fest.  We have a great original musical line up that will sure to please the most picky of music lovers.  Kicking the Midwest Brewers Fest off will be the Black Oil Brothers at noon followed by Train Company at 1:15, OD Jo at 2:30, Jack Avery’s Kin at 4:00, Overman at 5:30, The Jack Pines at 7:00 and to close out the Fest will be the absolutely amazing The Hooten Hallers.  As a lover of music and Craft Beer, I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon than having the ability to enjoy both.

We will also have a Home Brewers pavilion where we will have a multitude of local home brewers putting on demonstrations and brewing on-site.  One of the things that will set us apart as a craft beer festival is that you will have the ability to sample some great home brews as well.  As part of the Home Brewers pavilion we will also have a Craft Beer 101 tent to educate and inform those that may be beginning their journey into the culture of Craft Beer.  I personally will be at the Craft Beer 101 tent at 3:30, so stop on by and say, “Hi.”

Now for a few last details, I highly recommend that if you are considering purchasing VIP tickets, do so now because we are close to sold out of VIP tickets.  For those of you that will be traveling in from the city, we will have a shuttle service from the Rt. 59 Aurora train station running all day.  This is a great alternative to driving as we will pick you up at the train station and bring you down to the fest and take you back to the train station when finished.  I am hoping not to jinx it but according to the weather channel, we are looking at sunny and 80 degrees!  For those of you that may be as pasty white as I am, bring sunscreen!!  We will also have multitude of food vendors, be smart and make sure that you take the opportunity to enjoy a little food with your brews.  This is not a plug but we will not only have some great merchandise but will have my personal favorite Craft Beer accessory, The Beer Stick!  I refuse to open a Craft Beer bottle without my Beer Stick as one of the features is that it doesn’t bend your bottle cap and for those of us that enjoy collecting bottle caps, this accessory is mandatory. 

If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, I suggest that you do.  This is going to be an epic event and I am personally inviting you to come out and enjoy an afternoon with your fellow Craft Beer lovers.  I look forward to seeing you all there!

Cheers,

Jason

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Friday
Aug122011

Midwest Brewers Fest – This Has Been A Public Service Announcement!

Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Great American Beer Festival with the likes of Dale Lewis, Steve Woertendyke and Ken McMullen.  We had an absolute blast and it was a weekend that I will never forget.  About three weeks after we returned from GABF Dale got Steve and I together and started a conversation about holding a Craft Beer festival in Plainfield, IL.  This took place in September of 2010.  The evolution of that conversation had led us to today as we are about two weeks from the festival actually taking place.  You could not possibly imagine how difficult it has been and how much work has gone into planning and organizing this event.  Not to mention that the Midwest Brewers Fest has been completely organized by volunteers.  These are people that have jobs, families and lives outside the festival but they have dedicated their time as well as blood, sweat and tears to make this event happen. 

I have to give props to Steve Caton and Dale Lewis for getting the ball rolling and conceiving the concept of a Craft Beer festival in Plainfield but it really has been a group effort.  The Midwest Brewers Fest has been focused on raising money for the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation and Pints for Prostates.  Yep, that’s right, we are a non for profit and all proceeds are being donated to both organizations.  Yes, we are taking our love of the Craft Beer industry to further the goals of both foundations and I could think of no better way to bring light to both organizations.  Plainfield’s Riverfront has a rich and storied history and Pints for Prostates is an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to men’s health issues and both are worthy organizations of your support.  I don’t live in Plainfield but I wholeheartedly support the cause.

Through the work of the committee, we have attracted many great breweries from across the Midwest and throughout the country.  We are excited to have multiple breweries with a variety of brews for our attendees to sample.  We are also excited to have a VIP tent that will feature rare beer selections from our participating breweries as well as being catered with an excellent food selection.  Don’t get me wrong, the general admission will have a great selection of multiple food vendors to tickle your fancy and options to pair with your favorite samples.  We also have a home brewer’s tent to see the brewing process in person and to ask questions about the brewing process and inspire those that have always been curious about home brewing.  In addition, we will have a Craft Beer 101 tent for those of you that want to learn more about Craft Beer and I vow to be your personal guide to ensure that you have a great experience at the Midwest Brewers Fest.  All you need to do is ask for Jason and I’ll be there to assist you into your journey into the Craft Beer world.

I am extremely proud of our committee and all of the work that we have put into this event.  The Midwest Brewers Fest is an inaugural event that we are really excited about putting on for the benefit of Craft Beer lovers from all over and in support of the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation and Pints for Prostates.  I strongly encourage those of you that are in the area to attend and support this great event.  That and I’d personally love to meet you and shake your hands as a fellow Craft Beer junkie.  Not to mention, as this event gets bigger and bigger you’ll have the opportunity to reflect and say that you were there the first year the festival took place.  Come join us for a Craft Beer experience that you will truly love and enjoy.  Oh did I mention that the fest is taking place on 40 plus acres of beautiful riverfront property?  Well now you know.  Get your tickets here.  Like I said before, just show up and ask for Jason and I will personally make sure that you have an experience you won’t soon forget.  Get all the details at www.midwestbrewersfest.com.  This has been a public service announcement!

Jason

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