Plainfield’s Midwest Brewers Fest first to feature home-made beer under new state law
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter August 22, 2013 1:22PM
The Midwest Brewers Fest in Plainfield Saturday will be the first under a new state law that allows homebrewers to offer samples of their beers. The fest also will feature craft beer vendors, food, music, and guest speakers. | SUBMITTED
Updated: September 24, 2013 6:19AM
PLAINFIELD - The Midwest Brewers Fest in Plainfield this Saturday will be the first event at which, under a recent change in Illinois law, homebrewers will be allowed to offer samples of their beers.
According to the fest organization’s vice president, Kevin Herbst, the state issued the first-of-its-kind permit to the Midwest Brewers Fest Monday.
The event in Plainfield Riverfront Park, 24321 Lockport St., is in its third year and had homebrewer clubs offering samples at its initial event. However, the state began cracking down on such, starting in April, 2012 when Peoria International Beer Festival organizers were told by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission that as clubs’ brewing equipment is not regulated and their beer is not taxed, they could not share such brews at the festival.
So last year in Plainfield, homebrewers were present giving talks and demonstrations but not giving out their beer.
Last fall, 26 homebrew clubs or shops across the state that are part of the Illinois Homebrewers Association began working with State Rep. Keith Farnham of Elgin in putting together a draft of legislation, with members of the Plainfield Ale & Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) coordinating the effort. Farnham became aware of the matter from members of the Silverado Homebrew Club of St. Charles.
In July, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the measure, which allows the clubs to offer samples of their beers, under certain stipulations, at festivals and events both public and private across Illinois.
“This is the culmination of over a year’s effort and we could not be happier,” Peter Rzeminski of PALE said of the group serving samples at its hometown event. “The effort to get the bill passed into law was absolutely a group effort of clubs and homebrew shops across the state, but for PALE and me personally, we are especially proud about of efforts to make this happen.”
Rzeminski noted that PALE member Andrew Kriz was one of the three attorneys responsible for drafting the initial language of the bill. Rzeminski said he spent about nine months negotiating over email and the phone with the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois to revise and tweak the language and meet the requirements set out by the ABDI, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission to make sure it legislation met the needs of the members of the Illinois Homebrewers Alliance.
PALE will have a selection of 10 homebrew beers available during the festival, with the selection changing each hour. Styles will include a saison, a barrel-aged Imperial Russian Stout, an American wheat, a cherry/Chipotle speciality beer, a maple porter, and in keeping with the name of the club, a variety of pale beers including some American Pale Ales, Double IPAs, an India Pale Ale, and the 2013 PALE House Recipe winner “Shattered Glass IPA”, brewed by Bill Cartwright.
“We will have three club members serving seven different types of beer ranging from a Black IPA to a Red Rye ale,” Silverado’s Richard Placko said.
“This is the first time that our club has participated in the Midwest Brewers Fest, and we’re looking forward to not just serving our beer to the public, but also connecting with a lot of other homebrew clubs that will be down there participating in the homebrew pavilion,” Placko said.
“It’s great to have them all be able to offer samples. It seems that even in the last three years, more and more people are brewing at home or at least know someone who is a homebrewer,” Herbst said.
For the Saturday gathering, patron admission will include 28 color-coded tickets, three of which will be good for getting homebrews, the rest to be used to get 2-ounce pours of commercially available craft beers from vendors. While drinkers will be able to buy additional tickets for more craft beer, Herbst said the law limits each person to just three homebrew sample tickets.
In addition to Silverado and PALE, other clubs at the fest will include The Brew Shed, Chicago Home Brewers Group, Joliet Brewers Guild and Marseilles Area Society of Homebrewers.
Among the more than 50 regional craft brewers serving about 200 different beers will be Two Brothers from Warrenville and Aurora and the Village Vintner Winery & Brewery in Algonquin. Vintner co-owner and master brewer Steve Boyer said he will be bringing Coconilla Stout and Hop Rocket to this fest.
The day also will feature “beer-centric” food, music, talks from industry insiders, and a “real” ale tent featuring casks of rare and custom-brewed ales for the fest.
Among those speakers will be Ashley Arnold from New Belgium Brewery who will be talking about women and brewing. Herbst said that while the fest has skewed 60-40 toward men, more and more women are becoming interested in craft beers, so he expects a more balanced crowd this time.
Homebrewers Rzeminski and Placko are set to talk at 4 p.m. about the new law. PALE will be giving a brewing demonstration. Brandon Wright, owner of the Chicago Brew Works store in Plainfield, is coordinating the doings in the homebrew tent and will be on hand to showcase beer-making, too.
For those coming from the city and other points along the Metra Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, there will be a $3 shuttle from the Route 59 depot in Aurora to the park.
The event is a fund-raiser for Plainfield Riverfront Foundation (plainfieldriverfront.org) and Pints for Prostates (www.pintsforprostates.org). It is manned by about 300 volunteers. Herbst said a crowd of 3,000 is expected.
Tickets are $100 for VIP passes and $40 for general admission and are available online until the end of Friday at www.midwestbrewersfest.org and at the gate Saturday. The fest runs from noon until 6 p.m. for VIPs and from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. for general admission.
For those who can’t make the fest, Silverado will be returning to the Elgin Parks and Recreation Department’s Beer & BBQ @ Bowes fund-raiser, Saturday, Sept. 14, from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. outside Porter’s Pub at Bowes Creek Country Club.