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Craft Brewers Conference/World Beer Cup Recap

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 12, 2010 9:20PM

2010_04_WBC.jpg For four days the Sheraton Hotel and Towers downtown was overrun by a burly, bearded, tattooed mass of humanity. They had one other thing in common: they all had a deep love of beer. The annual Craft Brewers Conference and biennial World Beer Cup shone a spotlight on Chicago just as the local craft beer scene is growing by leaps and bounds. Breweries from 90 countries entered a record 3,330 beers in the World Beer Cup, in 90 style categories. Many of those beers, as well as rare vintages, were available for sampling at the conference and throughout the city.

Goose Island, which left no stone unturned with a reception last Thursday at its Fulton Street brewery for CBC attendees, took home gold medals for its India Pale and Nut Brown ales, a silver for its Lolita fruit beer, and a bronze for its Christmas Ale. Three Floyds earned a gold in the Imperial Red Ale category for its Behemoth Barleywine. Piece, Flossmoor Station, Rock Bottom Chicago and Crown Brewing each took home bronze medals. The full list of winners is available here.

Away from the conference, bars and restaurants were packed with special tappings throughout the conference. Hopleaf had a beer dinner every night, while the Publican extended its hours to accommodate conference attendees with rare tappings and a late night bar snacks menu. Paul Kahan, in a moment of breathing room between waves of beer drinkers Friday night, said, "I've never experienced anything like this. It's pretty insane." Kahan added to the insanity Wednesday night with a announcement, via his Twitter feed, that the Publican was tapping a 30 gallon keg of Dark Lord that drew the expected mass of Dark Lord zombies. "The keg was gone in 28 minutes," Kahan said. Kahan also said that the Publican will have loads of beer left over from the conference, so they'll be rotating out taps throughout the week with more rare beers.

Another favorite starting point each evening was Brasserie JO. To a man, CBC attendees were impressed with the standard beer menu put together by beer director Erin Phillips. Some of Brasserie JO's rare tappings were on a par with what the Publican was pouring. One of our favorite beers of the week was two Brothers Project 15 sour ale, which Phillips and her bartenders were selling briskly Friday night.

Neither Stone Brewing nor their distributor expected the reaction of their beer reaching Chicago that they eventually received. At Blackbird's Stone/Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne-Ø beer dinner Thursday night, Stone head brewer Mitch Steele said that when he left California to come to the conference, "the brewery is pretty much empty. Once I get back to the brewery, we'll have to start working overtime to keep everyone in Stone."