Beer & BBQ @ Bowes Sept. 14 toasts return of homebrewed samples
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org, @DanaheyECN September 8, 2013 7:50PM
Richard Placko of Elgin speaks at the Midwest Brewers Fest in Plainfield last month about a change in Illinois law that allows such groups offer samples of their beers at certain events. | Mike Danahey~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 10, 2013 6:06AM
ELGIN — Perhaps a victory toast or two will be in order during the Elgin Parks and Recreation Department’s Beer & BBQ @ Bowes fundraiser, scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday outside Porter’s Pub at Bowes Creek Country Club.
Raising their glasses high should be members of the St. Charles-based Silverado Homebrew Club.
“We’re looking forward to connecting with the community and helping out with the fundraiser,” Silverado spokesman Richard Placko said.
The reason to celebrate: Silverado members were key in getting Illinois law changed this year to allow them to offer samples of their creations to the general public at events such as the one at Bowes.
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, D-Elgin, in putting together draft legislation to that effect. Farnham became aware of the matter from members of the Silverado Homebrew Club who were supposed to serve samples at a beer event in Wheaton the summer of 2012 but were told close to the last minute that they couldn’t.
The reason was the state had begun cracking down on the practice in April 2012 when Peoria International Beer Festival organizers were told by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission that because clubs’ brewing equipment is not regulated and their beer is not taxed, they could not share such brews at that festival.
That led to homebrewers being banned from serving at gatherings that included the Midwest Brewers Fest in Plainfield and last year’s Beer & BBQ @ Bowes, where they had been doing so prior. At the Elgin event last year, Silverado members gave talks about homebrewing and brought along a shackled keg to draw attention to the sample-serving ban.
Members of the Plainfield Ale & Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) wound up coordinating the effort to change the law. Representatives from the homebrewers group worked on and off for about nine months with the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. The effort culminated with in July with Gov. Pat Quinn signing 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.
The first fest to have such sampling was the Plainfield event in August, where Placko and Peter Rzeminski of PALE gave a brief talk about the new law.
The Bowes event will be the second to operate under the adopted rules. Placko said at least a half dozen Silverado members have committed to bringing homebrews and to helping out with the event. Beers that they intend to bring include Belgian Golden Strong, Golden Ale, mead, Kolsch, Citra IPA, Oktoberfest and Black IPA.
In addition to homebrew, Beer & BBQ @ Bowes will offer barbecue and craft beer, as well as beverages and activities suitable for families. The event benefits Elgin’s Recreation Youth Scholarship Fund.
Tickets purchased in advance are $25 for the Beer Sampler Package, $20 for the Teetotaler Package, and $5 for the Kids Fun Package. The day of the event, the cost will increase. More information is at www.cityofelgin.org/bbbowes.