Sox/35th Street: Craft Beer Lovers Flock to Brewhaha Event

The Bridgeport Art Center filled with Windy City Brewhaha breweries and attendees. (Photo/NickWilder)

The Bridgeport Art Center filled with Windy City
Brewhaha breweries and attendees. (Photo/NickWilder)

By Nick Wilder
The Red Line Project

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Windy City Brewhaha offered a variety of craft beers from a number of local breweries, which attracted beer enthusiasts as well as novice drinkers to participate in the ongoing expansion of the craft beer industry. 

Beer lovers gathered in the skyline loft of the Bridgeport Art Center on Chicago’s South Side on March 2 and were eager to taste an array of different craft beer options. The experience offered the opportunity to expand their taste palates by testing India Pale Ales, Porters, Imperial Stouts, Wheat Ales and more, while also broadening their overall beer understanding.

“I initially thought I had tasted a high number of different types of craft beer, but this event has proved me wrong,” said attendee Peter Rinehart of Chicago. “I’ve been running around trying to taste all of the different kinds of craft beer that were previously unknown to me.”

The Windy City Brewhaha is essentially a celebration of beer and a unique chance to sample the best breweries in Chicago at one location. The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild presented the event and partners included The Loop, World of Beer, Pepsi and more.

The occasion encouraged casual beer drinkers and aficionados to come together and indulge in craft beer. The two separate sessions of unlimited beer tasting of more than 50 beers from local breweries were heavily coveted. The price for a ticket to attend one of the sessions on March 2 was $45 if purchased beforehand online and $50 at the door.

In July of 2012, The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild reported that 57 craft breweries were being operated in Illinois and approximately 67 additional breweries were in the works. Atlas Brewing Company, Pipeworks and Revolution are among the breweries that were established in Chicago over the past year and were also represented at the Windy City Brewhaha.

Attendees wait in line as their next beer is poured by brewery representatives. (Photo/Nick Wilder)

Attendees wait in line for their next beer to be
poured by brewery representatives. (Photo/Nick Wilder)

The Brewers Association, which is the trade association embodying most of the United States brewing companies, reported in 2011 that there were more than 11 billion barrels of craft beer brewed that generated almost $9 billion, which were both increases from 2010.

The inaugural occasion also revealed the expanding production and popularity of craft beer around the United States, specifically Chicago. The evening session was sold out and there were people who traveled from distant locations to benefit from the opportunity to drink popular craft beers and to experience new eye-catching options. 

“My wife and I drove into Chicago for the night from Madison, Wis., with a couple of friends to join the festivities,” said attendee Mark Ward. “We didn’t want to miss out on the first ever Windy City Brewhaha and the attractive beer selection. The opportunity to try some of our favorite Chicago breweries was too tempting.”

In addition, there are encouraging mid-2012 statistics for America’s independent and small craft brewers. The sales were up 14 percent and the volume of craft brewed beer sales leaped 12 percent during the first half of 2012.

Also, the total number of United States craft breweries as of July 2012 was 2,075, which is an increase of over 100 breweries from 2011, according to Brewers Association, a national organization. These mid-year numbers, along with popular new events like the Windy City Brewhaha, increase the notion that the popularity of craft beers is accurately growing. 

“Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses,” said Paul Gatza, director of The Brewers Association, on the organization's website. "Plus it’s a fact that beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”

The mid-2012 total brewery count of 2,075 establishments in the United States was the highest mark in history. There were many of these popular breweries and also unknown, up-and-coming breweries that were represented at the Windy City Brewhaha. In total, there were 26 breweries present at the event. These breweries included Three Floyds, Goose Island, Tighthead, Half Acre and many more.

Chicago has recently encountered a flood of local breweries attempting to establish their name on the local scene. By many regards they have been enormously successful at creating a variation of beers that are both delicious and noteworthy. Consequently, the Windy City Brewhaha thought it was a cause for celebration.

“My favorite brewery here is definitely Three Floyds, they are one of the main reasons I decided to buy my ticket,” said attendee Luke Solis of Chicago. “I’ve been trying all different kinds of beers from other breweries here too, but Three Floyds has been my main preference for years and I really enjoy their beer Alpha King.” 

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