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'Hop To It' at the Field Museum Delivers Drinks and Discussion

By Marielle Shaw in Food on Apr 6, 2014 5:30PM

There was a lot to talk about at Hop To It at the Field Museum. Luckily, there was also a delicious beer to sample, artifacts to ogle, and food to pair.

Off Color Brewing and the Field Museum teamed up to create a unique Czech Pilsner, Tooth and Claw, and a memorable drinking experience for those who wanted to know more about their beer other than where they can get a new one. Tooth and Claw was selected to be featured in the Copenhagen Beer Festival, a major announcement made at 'Hop To It' which gave the evening even greater significance.

The evening began with Field Museum staff talked about the process of creating the beer, hiccups they encountered along the way, and the status of the beer today. The museum wanted a beer that was simple. Off Color brewmaster John Laffler, the self-appointed "gregarious one," has delivered a beer with a pleasant simplicity without being underwhelming. When the beer warms up, it delivers a hoppier aroma and flavor.

Laffler was indeed a gregarious host, and told the crowd several amusing anecdotes about the beer. The beer started off as "Sue Brew," but that name was reconsidered due to the toothy dinosaur's role in children's education at the Field.

Visitors to this event received special pint glasses, which it was later explained were "first edition," and no longer in rotation. Why? The Tooth and Claw logo originally featured the phrase "pulverized dino teeth, hops and malt." It was tongue-in-cheek, but apparently too much so for the FDA. Thus, the logo was changed and a collector's item was born.

Laffler wasn't the only one who spoke. Anthropologist Jim Phillips, the curator of the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit at the Field Museum, was also an incredibly entertaining and knowledgeable speaker.

Phillips described the long history of beer, dating back to 3300 BC, and its role in religious rituals, the diets of peasants, and its place in communities of all sorts. He talked about its use as payment for the workers at the pyramids and its journeys around the world. He also talked about the recent shift from America as a beer consumer to a real leader in innovation in beer, and the incredible variety that that shift has brought to us as a result.

Overall, we found ourselves thoroughly sated, having learned something, seen, and, in some cases, touched never-before-seen historical artifacts, and enjoyed some of Off Color's hard work and passion firsthand. "Hop to It" is going to be a quarterly event, and if this was any indication of what we can expect, we'll be back, pulverized dino teeth or not.