The Second Annual Mahomet Craft Beer Festival presented by JT Walker’s Restaurant and Brewery and the Mahomet Area Chamber of Commerce took place on Saturday, April 21, 2018 from 2 p.m.- 6 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Mahomet, Illinois. Admission was free. Tickets were sold to purchase beer, $25 for a commemorative tasting glass and 20 tickets. Additional tickets sold for $1 each. You can read all the details in the press release. Thirteen hundred people were estimated to have attended. Bands played throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Check out the up and coming rock stars.
Around 30 breweries attended the event, each pouring two or three selections. Beers flavored with blood oranges were popular. At 5:30 p.m., awards were given in multiple categories.
Best Sour Award
Big Thorn Farm and Brewery | Chinook Sour | Georgetown, IL
Big Thorn Farm and Brewery (Georgetown) was recently featured on Craftbeer.com, a Brewers Association publication. To learn more about what makes Big Thorn cutting edge, check out their featured article. They poured Toasted Oak Brown (7 % | 30 IBU), a log-aged brown ale, and Chinook Sour (5% | 0 IBU). Both selections were tapped out before the festival ended and the Chinook Sour won the Best Sour Award in the competition. If you are looking for some log-aged, naturally carbonated, solar-powered, off-grid libations, this is the brewery for you.
Best Stout Award
Lil Beaver Brewery | Lil Bit of Wonderful | Bloomington, IL
Lil Beaver Brewery (Bloomington) brought Lil Bit of Wonderful, a chocolate coconut milk stout, and Know I Know My Peaches, a cream ale with peaches. One member of the crowd was really impressed with Know I Know My Peaches and couldn’t stop talking about it. (While talking with him, I also learned that Chris Cornell’s voice had could reach four octaves. Truly impressive. You are missed, Chris.)
Best IPA Award
Penrose Brewing | Pebbles | Geneva, IL
Penrose Brewing (Geneva) won the award for Best IPA with Pebbles (7% | 30 IBU), a triple dry-hopped midwest IPA. They also served Steven’s Street (5.3% | 45 IBU) a peppery, grapefruity pale ale.
Best Wheat Beer Award
JT Walker’s | Orange and Blue | Mahomet, IL
JT Walker’s (Mahomet) hosted the event and won the award for Best Wheat Beer with their Orange and Blue, a wheat beer made with blueberries and oranges. In support of the craft beer community (and for fun), JT Walker’s displays independent brewery stickers on the coolers of its Dog Pound Sports Bar. Notice the independent craft brewer seal on the left. It’s the black and white decal with the upside-down bottle. This seal lets beer lovers know that they are drinking beer from an independently-owned brewery and not just big beer with an artsy label.
Blood Orange Flavor
Tangled Roots | 350 | Peel | Brickstone
Tangled Roots Brewing Company (Ottawa) brought a blood orange flavored beer, Blood Orange Saison, Belgian style saison and their Russian Imperial Stout (9.5%). In the 1700’s, Imperial Stouts referred to beers that were originally made in England and then shipped to royalty in Russia, specifically the Imperial Court in St. Petersburg. Currently, the use of the word imperial to describe a beer type usually means “double” or “strong.”
350 Brewing Company (Tinley Park) served DIY Wheat made with blood orange and coriander (5.2%), Stupid Kid, an American pale ale (6.25 %), and Rated R Bumper Car, a double IPA (10.5%). While pouring, they ran a raffle for the festival goers. For each pour ordered, the attendee received a ticket and the chance to win various prizes, like T-shirts. The brewing company also sponsored the live music after the festival in The Dog Pound Sports Bar & Outdoor Patio upstairs at JT Walker’s. These guys know how to have a good time at a festival. Their 350 Fest is in its fourth year and features multiple bands including The Descendants and Less than Jake.
Peel Brewing Company (Edwardsville & O’Fallon) brought Perception IPA (6.3% | 35 IBU), an IPA without the sharp bitter finish. It is made for people who dislike the bitterness of traditional IPA’s. They also brought Blood Orange Wheat (5.3%).
Brickstone Brewery (Bourbonnais) made the best beer using blood oranges. Their website describes their Forbidden Wheat (5.4%), “A smooth, unfiltered Belgian style witbier brewed with Saaz hops, Belgian malts, white wheat, a blend of blood orange, sweet orange, bitter orange, and a touch of coriander.” Hard to top that.
First Year Participants
Haymarket | Evil Horse | Finch
Haymarket Pub and Brewery (Chicago and Bridgman, MI) brought Speakerswagon Pils (5%), Mathias Imperial IPA (8%) and Oscar’s Pardon Belgian Pale (4.5%). The name of this bar comes from the 1886 Haymarket Affair that took place in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. The “affair” was a demonstration of workers’ rights, a riot, and a bombing. In the end, the workers’ hard won victory led to the eight-hour work day being instituted.
Evil Horse Brewing Company (Crete) brought Carnival De Binche (6% | 40.6 IBU), a Belgian saison, Trot Hopple (6.7% | 67 IBU), an IPA, and Gezelligator (8.5% | 16 IBU), a doppelback. If you had trouble following that sentence, ask Steve Kamp (the brew master) when you see him. You will know him by his long mane pulled back in a distinctive pony tail. He loves roaming around, just like the ill-tempered appaloosa horse the brewery is named for. He will be happy to meet you and explain it.
New Breweries: Open Two Years or Less
Door 4 | 1905 | Golden Fox | Monarch
Door 4 Brewing Co. (Decatur) brought Learner’s Permit Kellerbier (5.5%) and Hazy Halas. Their table did not have a description of the beers and neither did their website BUT judging by these guys faces the beer must be fantastic.
1905 Brewing Company (Assumption) just opened this spring. They brought Tecusah Amber Ale (6.25% | 42 IBU) and When Life Gives You Lemons (6.5% | 29 IBU), an American wheat finished with lemon zest and ginger root. When Life Gives You Lemons was a favorite among my group.
Golden Fox Brewing (Illiopolis) recently debuted at the Decatur Craft Beer Festival. For this festival, they brought Cray Cray APA and Rhiannon’s Red, an Irish red ale. Check out my blog about the Decatur Craft Beer Festival to find out about the happening little town of Illiopolis.
Monarch Brewing Company (Monticello) recently completed a kitchen remodel inside their establishment housed in a former historic church. I am excited to check out the remodel. Monarch served Whitt’s Wit (5.4%), a witbier, and Frequency BIPA (7%), a black IPA made using coffee from Intelligentsia. Intelligentsia’s direct trade practices have made it a leader in its field.
Blind Pig | Decatur Brew Works | Triptych | Half Acre | Pollyanna
The Bling Pig Brewery (Champaign) brought Raspberry Wheat, Citrus Paradise IPA and Columbia St Coffee Stout made from coffee roasted at Columbia Street Roastery in Champaign. Their Raspberry Wheat tapped out before the festival ended. On June 23, 2018, they will host their own festival, Pig Daze. For the festival, The Blind Pig will specially brew Pig Daze Imperial Stout whose label will feature local artist, Sophie McMahan’s Babliens.
Decatur Brew Works (Decatur) brought Lucha Libre (9.2%), an American stout make with vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and ancho pepper. They also poured The 201 (7.6%), a northeast style double IPA. Last September, the Brew Works teamed with local charities to organize the Decatur Craft Beer Festival. I had a great time and am looking forward to going again this fall.
Half Acre Beer Company (Chicago) brought a beer simply named “Tuna,” an extra pale ale. Their website states that Tuna is named so because “the ocean is a magical place.” Plus it’s fun to say, ‘I’ll take a Tuna,” when ordering. Watermelon, peach, guava, lemon and tropical fruits dominate this beer. Half Acre also brought Cliffs of Tephra, an IPA that also features guava.
Triptych Brewing (Savoy) brought Join The Circus (6.9%) a hazy IPA, Wake Up Neo (8.9%), an eastcoast imperial IPA, and These Aren’t the Blueberries You’re Looking For (6.1%), a tart blueberry ale. Always a favorite, the blueberry tart tapped out early. Curiously later in the afternoon, their blackboard advertised a 4:20 special…
Pollyanna Brewing Company (Lemont & Roselle) brought Pollyanna Pils (5.3% | 40 IBU), a bohemian pilsner and Personal Chain Letter (10.1% | 70 IBU), a Russian imperial stout.
Girls Pint Out: Volunteering
Virtue Cider (Fennville, MI) sent two different types of ciders and no one to pour. Whitney Ajie from the Champaign-Urbana Chapter of Girls Pint Out stepped in to help out. Girls Pint Out is an organization for women who love drinking good beer and socializing. To learn more, check out their article in The News Gazette or like their Facebook page.
Blue Nose Brewery (Hodgkins) also sent two types of beer and no one to pour. Katrina, another member of Girls Pint Out, stepped in to pour Cool Hair, a raspberry sour (7%) and Dreamy, an American wheat ale (5.4%).
Girls Scouts | Mahomet Area Youth Club
Who can resist Girl Scout Cookies? I can’t, especially not the Samoa’s. Leaving the festival, I bought a box of Samoas, Tagalongs, and Thin Mints. To make it an even $20, I bought a $5 raffle ticket supporting the Mahomet Area Youth Club. Only 1000 tickets will be sold. So, I might just have a chance at winning this stuff that I don’t need. First prize is a Traeger Pro Series 22 Wood Pellet Smoker. Second prize is a YETI Tundra 35 Cooler and third is a Craftsman Lithium Ion Battery-Powered 120-mph Sweeper. The drawing will be held on June 1, 2018. Ticket prices are generous: 1 for $5, 5 for $20, 13 for $50, and 30 for $100. Check out the fundraiser website.
JT Walker’s Restaurant
We were able to eat at the restaurant before and during the event. I was impressed by the amount of people working and the friendliness of the staff under pressure. Emily was our bartender and she was welcoming and professional. Check out some of the food pics.
Button mushrooms stuffed with chorizo, grilled onion, peppers, tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese ($8.95)
Quesadilla made with grilled chicken, queso, green onion, roasted corn mix, side of salsa, sour cream & guacamole ($8.95) Hands down the best dish we ate.
The patty melt had nice caramelized onions, swiss and white American cheese, and great marble rye bread ($10.95). We ordered it with polenta fries that were fried perfectly. Try dipping them in salsa or the cucumber-wasabi sauce.
We also had the house salad made from romaine, diced tomato, cucumber, shredded cheddar cheese and croutons. ($4.95) The choice of dressings: balsamic, bleu cheese, caesar, french, greek, honey mustard, 1000 island, ranch, chipotle ranch, sesame-ginger, cucumber-wasabi and strawberry vinaigrette
Here are some pics that are to fun not to share.
Bell’s Brewery | Mango Habanero Oberon | Kalamazoo, MI
Is that a beer? Yes, it is. Don’t let the orange juice appearance fool you. It’s a special release of their spring seasonal Oberon brewed with mango and habanero puree. Served exclusively at festivals this summer. (6.8%)
Unfortunately, Not Pictured
Destihl Brewery (Normal) brought Soundboard Session IPA (from the Deadhead IPA series), Normal Pils and Here Gose Nothin’ (from the Wild Sour Series). Revolution Brewing (Chicago) brought Sun Crusher (5.3% | 35 IBU) a hoppy wheat ale and DDH Galaxy-Hero (7 %) a double dry-hopped IPA. Rigg’s Beer Company (Urbana) brought their Hefeweizen and Illinois Kolsch.
4204 Main Street Brewing Company (Belleville), Myths and Legends Brewing Company (Westmont), 2 Fools Cider (Naperville), Homer Soda Company (Homer), Alto Vineyards (Champaign), Owl Creek Vineyard (Cobden), and White Oak Brewing (Normal) were also represented.