Friday, May 3, 2013

Beer 1UP - Brewers, Bloggers, Beers, and Brawls at Emporium Arcade Bar

Who in their right mind organizes a beer event on the last Saturday in April, a date known for one of the most well-known Chicagoland beer release parties, Dark Lord Day?

I'm sure that question was asked by a few people when I, along with fellow bloggers Eric and Tasha, announced our collaborative event Beer 1UP at Emporium Arcade Bar. But see, that was the whole point. Not everyone can or wants to attend DLD. Of course many, MANY people do. But many more fall into the cannot/will not categories. And thus, Beer 1UP was born, not as a competitor or in some kind of defiance of DLD, but rather as an alternative for the poor souls not attending it.

Eric of first mentioned the idea to me about a month ago. It started as a small, intimate event in our minds. A few like-minded beer geeks, maybe a brewer or two, gathering somewhere to share some beer and enjoy some company. We soon brought in our friend Tasha of for her city expertise and pure energy. And because we like her. A lot.

From there it snowballed. Emporium, the first location we contacted, jumped on right away. Three brewers, then four signed on to provide beer. Several others who either aren't in production yet or are not quite ready to distribute signed on as special guests. Brew Camp offered up a live homebrew demonstration. Things were moving quickly, and then we realized the only missing ingredients were the actual guests. Luckily, that turned out to be a non-problem as well. Word of mouth spread quickly, several Chicago news sites picked up on the event, and soon we had almost 100 guests signed up.

The day was upon us in no time, and like just about every aspect of the event's planning, it practically ran itself. I guess the two gentlemen behind the bar might disagree. They were quite likely the hardest working people on Milwaukee Avenue that afternoon.

Beer from Ale Syndicate, Flesk Brewing, Begyle Brewing, and Lake Effect Brewing were all tapped and ready for consumption when we arrived. Our guest brewers from Arcade Brewery, Atlas Brewing, Urban Legend Brewing, 6th Floor Brewing, and Aleman all came in and mingled with fellow brewers and the patrons. It was quite a sight seeing these guys and gals all in one place, swapping stories and talking about what's in their tanks right now.

Brew Camp set up near the front of the building and demonstrated a basic homebrew boil to a small crowd. Soon the whole bar was filled with the blessed aroma of malt and hops combining in the kettle. Meanwhile, toward the back, brewers and bloggers battled it out on the pinball tables in our first (hopefully) annual Pinbrawl tournament. This time around, the bloggers came away victorious with Eric beating out Flesk Brewing's Will O'Brien in the finals.

By the end of our allotted time, it was clear that our mission had been accomplished. All we had started out to do was bring Chicago beer lovers and brewers together for a good time while sharing our love for local Chicago breweries with a wider audience in a fun, casual environment. And we succeeded. No lines. No tickets. No long waits.

Well, except for the pinball tables.

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