This was the third timeKenny Dorn and his fiancée, Sue Meister, had attended the event, and this time they came prepared.
The Rogers Park couple had artfully strung hard pretzels, large and small, traditional and square, on necklaces for themselves and their friends.
The pretzels didn’t just make for a fashion statement, Dorn said, but also an excellent palate cleanser between beers. Plus, he said, “It helps soak up the alcohol.”
All good things when you’re attending the 5th Annual Chicago BeerHoptacular.
The BeerHoptacular held three sessions Oct. 10-11, at the Aragorn Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence.
In addition to tastings of more than 150 craft beers from nearly 70 breweries from Chicago and around the country, the event included a BeerHop Derby, in which breweries raced their bottles in a pinewood derby-style competition, and a BeerHoptacular Homebrew Competition. For the first time, it also included a cider room, featuring craft ciders from 10 different breweries, and a BeardHoptacular, with separate divisions for brewers and “civilians.”
“You know, with all the very powerful competition, it’s a great honor —a lot of very hirsute individuals,” said Brian Buckman of Chicago’s Illuminated Brew Works, whose dark, bushy facial hair won him the brewers division.
Among the more interesting brews on tap at the event was Spiteful Brewing’s The Sales Guy Abbey Ale, aged in absinthe barrels. The barely two-year-old Chicago brewery gets the barrels from Letherbee Distillery, who co-founder Jason Klein called “great guys to be neighbors with —and dangerous.”
The result is a refreshing, light-colored ale with a licorice-y absinthe smell and taste.
Middle Brow Beer Co. debuted Keep It Copacetic, a citrusy ale brewed with popcorn, lime juice, lime zest and peppers that had a light spice and heavy smoke. The Chicago-based brewery called it an “elote-inspired ale.”
Half the proceeds from sales of the beer benefit the Youth Justice League.
And for those unwilling to part with their summer shandies, The Traveler Beer Company brewed Jack-O-Traveler, a spice-forward pumpkin shandy blending pumpkin purée, nutmeg, cinnamon and lime with the brewery’s American craft wheat beer.
Other participating Chicago breweries included 5 Rabbit Brewery, Ale Syndicate, Arcade Brewery, Argus Brewery, Baderbrau, Begyle Brewing, Berghoff, Cahoots, DryHop, Empirical, Forbidden Root, Goose Island, Greenstar Brewing, Half Acre Beer Co., Local Option, Marz Brewing, Moody Tongue, Pipeworks, Revolution Brewing, Rude Hippo and Slapshot.
For a full list of breweries and more information, visit the Chicago BeerHoptacular website.
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