Midwest Brewers Fest is serious about beer
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media August 23, 2012 4:00PM
Midwest Brewers Fest
♦ Aug. 25
♦ Plainfield Riverfront Park, 24321 W. Lockport St.
♦ Tickets, $40-$50
♦ (630) 504-0720
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:01PM
If you’ve always wanted to talk shop with a beer brewer, now is your chance. New this year at the Midwest Brewers Festival, brew masters will be on hand to mingle with the crowd and answer questions.
The Midwest Brewers Festival will be from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Plainfield Riverfront Park in Plainfield. Book a sitter — the fest is for those 21 and over.
The second annual Midwest Brewers Fest is a craft beer festival organized by local brew enthusiasts and more than 350 volunteers, said Rahul Wahi, organizer of the event. More than 50 breweries will be serving 200 different beers.
“This year, our volunteers will be handling all the breweries and will be pouring for all of them, and free our pro brewers to go out there and interact with the crowd,” he said. “If you’re looking to meet your brewer from Two Brothers or your brewer from Oscar Blues, they will actually be live on site walking around and meeting and greeting people.”
All of the brewers are locally distributed in the Midwest, he said, with the majority of them being from the Chicago market.
“Also, we are the launching festival for Oscar Blues out of Longmont, Colorado,” he said. “They are a pioneer in the American craft beer industry, and they are debuting at our event. So they will start distribution that week at our event.”
This means that if you find a beer that you like, you can find it again after the festival, he said,
“We really wanted people to be educated. We have a Craft Beer 101 Experience, and it is our educational facet to the fest,” he said. “It is about showing people what is true American craft beer and educating them on the hops and the grains and the fermentation process and what goes into making craft beer.”
There will be six guest speakers talking about the brewing industry. Even in the midst of beer, the emphasis is on education.
“Our festival is a little different,” he said. “It’s very artisanal. We tell people it’s not your average beer fest; we attract a very targeted and passionate crowd when it comes to American craft beer. It’s a celebration, it’s a time for people to get away and celebrate that passion they share for craft beer.”
In addition to local craft brews, there will be food vendors, live music from local artists, brewing expos and even river activities like kayaking and fishing.
Admission gets you 25 tickets for two-ounce pours from breweries, a commemorative tasting glass and a program guide. Additional sampling tickets will be available for 50 cents. There are designated driver tickets, as well.
“Last year was a very successful event,” he said. “We’ve actually added an additional brewery tent, so there are four brewery tents this year. And we have over 55 different craft breweries that are going to be at the fest this year.”
The message of “This is a beer fest with music, not a music fest with beer” is clear. Even though there is music and a couple of food vendors, don’t expect that to be the focus of the day.
“Our emphasis is on American craft beer. When people come here, we want them to know that is the experience they are going to get,” he said. “We’re not going to overload it with food and arts and crafts. This is not a carnival. This is true craft beer festival.”
That said, the music will be Americana-flavored, and will include Beth Bombara, Plainfield bands Overman and The Jack Pines.
This is a not-for-profit event. All proceeds will go towards the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation, which raises funds that will be used to restore the Plainfield Riverfront Park; as well as the charity Pints for Prostates.