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31.08.11

Midwest Brewers Fest

Midwest Brewers Fest Image Great beer, good people and a lot of fun!

The first annual Midwest Brewers Fest made a name for itself in Plainfield Illinois this past weekend. Ean McNulty (Ean McNulty brewing) and I discussed going briefly the day before while at Bigsby's Pour House and the next day off we went with tickets in hand.

On the drive there we discussed various brew related topics ranging from what we were going to brew next to what the best sparging methods were; then we arrived. Parking seemed non-existant unless you spent the extra money to get the VIP tickets (which we did not), so we parked in some lots up the road and walked back to the fest.

There was a real light-hearted air as you might expect from a place where brewers and beer enthusiasts join together to taste some amazing offerings from both large and small breweries as well as fellow homebrewers.

NotesThe weather was great and being riverside provided a wonderful landscape to relax and enjoy all the offerings!

We had ample opportunity to sample so many beers. Upon first getting our taster glass (which was actually plastic) we wondered if 25 tickets would be 'enough' for us to sample everything we wanted to try. As the day wore on we had a great time getting a chance to try new breweries we had only heard of as well as sampling different brews by some of our favorite large craft breweries. The 25 tickets turned out to be 'just enough' and by the time it was said and done we were content having tried everything we wanted and used up all of our tickets.

Luckily for us we had a DD (my lovely fiancee) who had an enjoyable time despite having to listen to Ean and myself rattle back and forth about hop flavors, malt profiles, chocolate notes, how good the chocolate covered bacon actually was and every other thing imaginable. At the homebrew tent she even flexed a little of her brewing knowledge discussing the setup they were using. I couldn't have been more proud! For a non-beer drinker I think she can step you through the entire process start to finish with no outside help. While she doesn't drink it - she sure likes brewing!

I was ultimately a little let down that each brewery didn't have at least 2 people from their brewery there to help out, answer questions and promote their product. While it seemed a few did have people there, the vast majority of stations had event workers dispensing the brew and working the taps. This was a little dissapointing when we wanted to know a little more aobut what we were drinking and exactly how it was made. The other event go-ers were usually happy to chime in and help answer questions however, which made it a more socially enjoyable experience as everyone seemed to have some nugget of knowledge about whichever beer it was you wanted to know more about. A refreshing change from the often snooty beer snobs you encounter at your local watering hole.

Things I liked about the fest:

  • Lots of choices
  • Friendly, social atmosphere
  • Great beer
  • Live music (being a musician also, this appealed to me!)
  • Lots of friendly staff
  • Great location

Things I disliked about the fest:

  • Plastic tasting glass
  • No (very little) brewery representation
  • No parking

Overall, I felt like the fest was a success and both Ean and I agreed we would most definitely be attending again next year. It was a great way for us to get together and taste some of the things we had been looking forward too and also a great way for us to taste some offerings from local homebrewers and see what they're putting out. It's a great time and even if you're not a beer drinker they offer free soda/water for as long as you're there so you won't go thirsty either. The food tent had a lot of great local offerings from various places and some of the brewer stations offered coupons for their tasters at local eateries.

It was definitely worth the price of entry, but we've debated if the VIP would be worth it. We heard from some it was, from others that it was not. There were a few offerings available to the VIP crowd that weren't available to the other folks and perhaps that alone was worth it - but we don't know (yet). We'll have to see how it gets handled next year if we decide to go for the VIP treatment (which included close parking) or not. One thing is for sure, we'll be back!

Additional Information / Reading

You can read a bit more about Midwest Brewers Fest on their website!

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Comments  

 
0 #1 eanmcnulty 2011-08-31 22:03
I was reading that Plainfield mandated they use plastic glasses. At Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, WI, there were a lot of broken glasses. It is a shame, because I like to collect tasting glasses, and they are hard to come by. I know I will never use the plastic one at home with my own beer. Maybe they can have the plastic, but offer a glass one upon leaving the park. I would pay a couple bucks more to get one.
JP
 

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