Monday, September 23, 2013

Zero Waste, Plenty of Taste: the 6th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew and Food Review

Editor's Note: The article is old. It's late. It's probably not even relevant anymore considering the fast paced Chicago craft beer community. I originally wrote it for publishing elsewhere, but the article and photo gallery never made it online. Rather than letting it go to waste, I thought I'd post it here. Enjoy. 

For the sixth year in a row, Illinois craft beer enthusiasts, foodies, and brewers gathered in downtown Oak Park on Saturday, August 17th, to celebrate the flavors of local food and beer. But the Oak Park Micro Brew and Food Review wasn't just about great tastes. It was also a chance to learn about zero waste initiatives and sustainability, from practices at the event itself to simple things everyone can do on a personal level to help reduce waste.

Under the Bridge Downtown is Where I Drank Craft Beer

Hosted by non-profits including the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, sustainability experts Seven Generations Ahead, and the Chicago Beer Society, the event was spread across two full blocks of Marion Street, providing room for 60+ breweries, local food vendors, and three stages of live music.

At 1pm, the festival kicked off with the Master’s Choice VIP Reception in the VIP Tent featuring special food and beer pairings by Haymarket Pub and Brewery and Goose Island Beer Company, along with area restaurants. Later in the tent, special Goose Island tappings complemented presentations by Gary Cuneen of Seven Generations Ahead, Ian Hughes, Environmental and Safety Coordinator at Goose Island, and Karen Hobbs, Senior Policy Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who each provided environmental education to accent each libation.
Jesse Evans of Ale Syndicate
One of the most unique features of the day, the Replicale Project, was once again a hit during the festival. In the months leading up to the event, 20 breweries brewed a specially designed recipe with all ingredients donated by Guild members The Country Malt Group and White Labs. The twist: each brewer used a different type of hops, providing festival attendees the chance to taste firsthand the unique properties each hop variety infused into the beer. This year’s golden ale recipe provided a perfect backbone to highlight each individual hop strain.
Big Softy. Chet Brett of the Church Street Brewing Company.
The rest of the afternoon opened up to general admission ticket holders and included live music by area bands The 9 Spot, Falling Stars, The Greydowns, London Gentlemen, No Love for Linus, and Deep Cover, while DJ D Brice kept the music flowing on the center stage. 
The 9 Spot
With its spacious layout, sheer number of local, regional, and national brewers, vast array of food vendors, unique Replicale project, and live entertainment, Oak Park Micro Brew and Food Review is one festival that gets it all right. If you missed out this year, be sure to keep it on your radar in 2014.

View the full gallery of photos from the Oak Park Microbrew and Food Review.