Like a fine barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, Beer Hoptacular continues to improve with age. The 4th annual fest, which hosted about 2000 attendees over two days and three sessions, moved its grounds to the Lacuna Artist Loft Studios in Pilsen. This was an ideal spot, combining a unique indoor setting with plenty of room outside for a tent and other amenities.
In addition to beer offerings from 60+ breweries and a decent choice of hearty, fall-friendly foods, Beer Hoptacular entertained its guests with its 1st Annual Beer Hop Derby Race, Homebrew Challenge (winners listed below), Beer of the Year (voted by attendees; winners listed below), burlesque dancers, circus performers, live music, Hammerschlagen (look it up – it was a blast) and a handful of retail, service and not-for-profit booths around virtually every corner.
While the circus inside The Bakery captured the attention of many and the artwork scattered around the Reverie Gallery provided a one-of-a-kind backdrop for booths, the beer took center stage at the event. Many of the breweries brought unique and rare brews that helped them stand out from their peers. Some of these included Ale Syndicate’s Sunday Session IPA infused with herbal teas from Rishi Tea (lemon myrtle, lemon verbena and shizandra berries) and Deschutes’ Chainbreaker White IPA infused with grapefruit peels and citra hops. In addition to Randall infusions, Goose Island had specialty tappings throughout each session, including Gillian, Forcone, Bourbon County Stout and Big John.
Some of my personal favorites being poured were Sixpoint’s Global Warmer, Illuminated Brew Works’ Death is a Real Drag, 18th Street’s Deal with the Devil, Revoluton’s Red Skull, Smylie Brothers’ Applewood Porter, DryHop’s Starry Night in Sleepy Hollow and 5 Rabbit’s Huitzi.
HOMEBREW CHALLENGE WINNERS
1st Place H.O.P.S.! Dusseldorf Alt
2nd Place C.H.A.O.S Smoked, Barrel-aged Marzen
3rd Place Brewers of South Suburbia (B.O.S.S.) Amber Ale
BEER OF THE YEAR WINNERS
1st Place Lucky Monk Brewery Fallen Angel Amber Style Lager
2nd Place Small Town Brewery Not Your Father’s Root Beer Alcoholic Root Beer
3rd Place Pipeworks Brewing Company Hey Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here Imperial White Russian Stout w/ Cacao Nibs, Vanilla Beans and Ipsento Coffee
I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed Beer Hoptacular, but sometimes pictures tell a better story.