August 20. Oak Park will be full of bastards. Beer, that is.

August 9, 2011 at 2:14 am

Tom Keith

The Bastards are coming to Oak Park.

Check out

Well over 30 breweries will be strutting their stuff at the 4th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review. They’re mostly locals, but Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild  — co-producers of the event — have invited a few interlopers, including a couple I sampled last week in Southern California.

For example, the 700-pound gorilla of Southern California craft breweries will be there in Oak Park. That’s Stone Brewing, which has a huge, corporate, resort-like facility in Escondido, just north of San Diego. Stone is probably best known for its many variants of Arrogant Bastard, an excellent American Strong Ale (7.2% ABV for the original version). To quote the brewery, “This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” That’s arrogant,

Speaking from personal experience, it is tasty, with rich caramel notes and citrusy hoppiness. Although, my significant other insists the beer was named after me (it wasn’t).

But that won’t be the only bastard in Oak Park. Founders Brewing, from Grand Rapids. Michigan, will likely be pouring its Dirty Bastard, a complex, not-too-hoppy Scotch Ale, and variants. It’s at 8.5% ABV, and its cousins, Sappy Slappy Bastard and Backwoods Bastard are even boozier, at 9.5% and 10.2% ABV, respectively. (Average lawnmower beers are usually in the 4.5% – 5% ABV range.)

This is definitely an event that calls for pacing, and downing plenty of water between beer samples.

Revolution, the Milwaukee Avenue brewpub, which will soon begin production brewing, will be in Oak Park, too. Sadly, their bastardized version of an IPA, El Bastardo, won’t be in attendance.

Possibly the most interesting part of the event will be Replicale — each brewery is asked to brew its version of a classic style — for this year, it’s an American-Belgian Pale Ale. At Stone, I sampled the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, one of the rare Stone brews that doesn’t use the house yeast. (Yeasts can have a significant effect on flavors; Stone couldn’t achieve the same Belgian flavor using their house yeast.) It was fascinating, with estery, fruity flavors over the maltiness; hops are only in the background.

Every brewer who participates will make something in that style that comes out a bit different. It’s always fascinating to contrast and compare.

I won’t go through the entire list of participating breweries … that’s why I gave you the link in the second paragraph. But anyone who’s followed Hoppin’ Around (that would be only my Mom and one of my sisters) can get perspectives on some of the other participants.

Even in this down economy, nationally, craft beer sales are up 15% for the first six months of this year, versus the same period last year, on a dollar basis. So it’s a great time to be a beer drinker. Especially with all the great brews here in the great Midwest that will be on tap August 20 in Oak Park. It’s easy to reach, near the Harlem/Lake stop on the CTA’s Green Line, or the Metra Oak Park stop.

P.S. One of the producing organizations, Seven Generations Ahead, has a mission is to promote ecologically sustainable and healthy communities. SGA advocates for pro-active community solutions to global environmental issues, and works with municipal, business, and community decision-makers to promote green community development, clean, renewable energy, eco-effective products, zero waste strategies, green building design, and fresh, local, and sustainable food raised using healthy practices.

They’re good guys.