It’s a good think I talked to Rich Forsythe, founder of the Square Kegs Home Brew Club, before I quaffed Founders’ Frangelic Mountain Brown ale. Just saying, at 9 percent ABV, the brew packed a punch.
Founders was one of 11 breweries pouring drafts Thursday night at Summer Brew, a joint effort of Square Kegs and the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, held on the blacktop adjacent to Bad Dog Tavern (4535 N. Lincoln Ave.). The event not only celebrated the ever-burgeoning craft beer scene but also served as a preview for what’s on tap this weekend at the Square Roots festival. As Fountainhead has taken to tweeting, “All craft, no crap.”
“The crowd is much more beer enthusiasts,” said Forsythe of the roughly 500 people in attendance, a group so civilized that a gentleman offered “ladies first” at the Port-a-Potties. With CHIRP Radio spinning tunes in the background and the rain holding off save for the occasional drizzle, it’s a safe bet most people have never had so much fun in a parking lot. A large part of the evening’s appeal was the opportunity to chat with representatives from the various breweries and compare notes on the wide range of unique selections being offered, from Finch’s Fascist Pig Imperial Red Ale (red malt with caramel notes) to Hinterland’s Grand Cru, a barley wine beer that drew one of the longer lines of the evening.
In a departure from this past January’s Winter Brew at DANK Haus, Forsythe noted that the roster of breweries was expanded to include participants from outside the Chicago area, pulling from Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan to increase not only variety but volume. A staggered tapping schedule ensured that there would be plenty of beer on hand to last through the evening’s 10 p.m. close.
“We wanted to make sure people were able to sample everything,” Forsythe said.
Mission not-quite-accomplished. I missed out on Greenbush Brewing’s Cabra Perdida, an imperial blueberry cream stout that apparently jumped the gun on its posted tapping time. Though at 11.2% ABV, I might not be typing right now.
The same lineup of breweries will be on hand over the weekend at Square Roots, July 20-22, Lincoln Avenue between Wilson and Montrose. Square Kegs plans to do a bit of brewing on site.