Good Beer Hunting

Critical Drinking

Stout Fest 2011

As they are known to do, Goose Island once again played host to a variety of small and medium-sized local Chicago breweries, this time for Stout Fest 2011.

Pictured: Matty Kemp from Revolution (center) and BeeJay Olson, Gerrit Lewis from Pipeworks. 

It was an ambitious afternoon. In attendance were folks from Destihl, Revolution, a few different Rock Bottom locations, newly created Pipeworks and more, with stouts ranging from experimental spiced and fruit brews to more traditional imperials. One of the brewers even snuck in a porter. Each guest was given 20 tickets for $20, but this was just a formality. Most brewers poured healthy samples and cared more about having a good time themselves than worrying about festival logistics. 

Standouts included Goose’s Sgt. Peppercorn, an odd mix of orange peels, Sichuan peppercorns, Intelligentsia coffee and a dash of cinnamon that drank like a liquor and was beautiful in small doses. In all, they offered about six variations of their famed Bourbon County Stout. Rock Bottom, Warrenville offered up a chocolate stout that would rival any espresso ice cream you’ve ever tasted. Revolution re-invented the oatmeal stout for this event, almost doubling the amount of oatmeal to achieve something along the lines of Irazu’s milkshakes. 

Pictured: Davin Bartosch from Rock Bottom, Warrenville

It was heart-warming to see the boys from Kickstarter-funded Pipeworks there. While they aren’t technically in business yet, they’re clearly enjoying the start-up process, as they should. Among many of the brewers there seemed to be a collegial feeling, a sense that Chicago’s small group of craft brewers is like any other unwitting collective — the Beat writers, for example, or  grunge rockers in the 90s— that found each other in the midst of a golden age of their craft where everyone benefits from the successes of the other. Which led me to wonder…is Goose Island the Lawrence Ferlinghetti of Chicago craft brewers? When the movement runs out of steam, will Goose Island benefit from their generosity and remain the last craft brewer standing? Let’s hope it never comes to that.

Michael Kiser