Swooning Under Glass

David | Blog | May, 18 2012 | No Comment

World leaders are descending on Chicago this weekend, baiting the anarchists. The White Sox are invading the Cubs Nation. Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy are on stage over at the Goodman in a little four-hour production of one of the Greatest American Plays Ever Written, and millions of New Yorkers are still convinced that nothin’ ever happens in this Midwest town.

Flossmoor Station pouring.

More importantly for us, it’s Chicago Craft Beer Week.  It kicked off yesterday with little events all over the place, and a big one at the Garfield Park Conservatory and oh, what a kick-off event that was!

From the estimates I hear, there were as many as 1,200 attendees enjoying close to 100 choices from nearly 40 breweries. From what I experienced, this has become one of the best beer events anywhere.  I had been engaged in some soul searching about an unrelated matter in the hour or two before the doors open at 5:30. Once inside I let go of my musings and just took it all in (my first time attending Beer Under Glass).  Visited with many friends from the beer community as the crowd began to form, tasted some beer inside and then headed to the large outdoor patio in the rear of the building.

Pretty soon after acquiring a CCBW official T-shirt and filling my glass with a great new Dunkel Rye from Metropolitan Brewing, I realized that a revelation was coming to me. Started thinking about the combination of the beer selection and the ambiance of the venue—there was something about that…. oh yes! The lightbulb came on. I have long held that the Great Taste of the Midwest, up in Madison has a lock on being the top festival (maybe in the entire country), when the setting and selection are considered. Now I am sure that nothing could beat what we had last night.

Beer among the orchids.

Here we were celebrating Chicago’s craft beer as the Green Line trains swept past the outdoor gardens, lit softly in twilight. We stood inside and out of the 100+ year old conservatory buildings sampling dank, Citra-infused IPAs among peonies and orchids.

Some highlights for me included the tasty produce of Haymarket, Finch’s, Goose Island and Half Acre. Was also thrilled to taste beers from the babies—Tighthead, and the brand new Solemn Oath. It was so cool to walk into the northern gallery and catch the prominent aromas wafting from the Marion Street Cheese Market table.

Marion Street Cheese dishing.

There was music, and other foods to sample. All I can say is Wow! Outstanding job by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, and the Garfield Park Conservatory.

I wrapped up my night by hanging out with a couple close friends in an open-windowed second floor apartment porch in Pilsen, drinking Pizza Port Wipeout and listening to Frank Zappa’s Over-nite Sensation. I would recommend that beer fans try to squeeze in those kinds of activities this week too.

More about CCBW on Saturday. I’m off to check the carbonation level on my beer entry in tomorrow’s Beerfly Alleyfight. I’m predicting that there will be a new beer champ this year, and he will look a bit like Farmer Hoggett.

Cheers for Chicago beers!

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