I am trying really, really hard to not go out during the week, but the recent heat wave in Chicago (83 degrees in early October???) is putting me back in a summer, no-care-in-the-world mentality. So when I heard that Sheffield’s was having a fall bear tasting in their beer garden on Thursday, I couldn’t resist. The tasting was advertised as “a huge sampling of exceptional beers focused on the fall season” from the portfolio of Louis Glunz Beer, a craft beer distributor. The price seemed right at only $25 for unlimited samples, and all proceeds went to the Disabled Patriots Fund. Raffle tickets were also being sold for $1 that would allow winners to purchase an exclusive brew. Drinking for a good cause? Sign me up!
The hubby and I arrived a little early but beers were already being served. We picked up our tasting glasses and booklet and secured a table in the back. This was different than many tastings in that all beer was poured from a bottle rather than a tap. The only exception to this was Revolution who brought growlers of their brews and served them to patrons in pitchers. I began perusing the booklet to see what beers I wanted to try first. The first thing I noticed when I looked at the available beer was the lack of seasonal beers. This was advertised as a fall beer tasting so I was expecting harvest ales, pumpkin beers, and Oktoberfests. There were a few of these styles but the majority of the beer available was regular offerings from the showcased breweries. For example, Three Floyds had three beers available for tasting: Alpha King, Zombie Dust, and Robert the Bruce. Now, while I welcome any chance to sample Zombie Dust, why wasn’t Munsterfest among those offered?
Another thing that irked me was that some of the beers that were supposed to be served were not actually there. I was excited to try Grand Teton’s Black Cauldron Imperial Stout but it was not available. Similarly, Great Lakes Oktoberfest and Coney Island Freaktoberfest weren’t available either.
They must not have sold many of the raffle tickets, or they didn’t mix them up very well, because all of my friends and I kept winning. Since the hubby and I have already had Bitches Brew and Canadian Breakfast Stout, we only bought raffle tickets for HellHound, a double IPA from Dogfish Head. Of course we each paid the $9 for a snifter of this brew. This was a strong beer but the intensely earthy hops masked the alcohol dangerously well. It was earthy and grassy with a nice flavor. I really enjoyed this beer.
Despite the issues, overall this was a fun evening out with friends on a beautiful evening in a beer garden. As any Chicago beer nerd can attest, Sheffield’s is one of the best beer bars in the city. I would say that this particular event is more for those that are not as well versed in craft beer, though. The vast majority of beers were ones I’ve had before or that I didn’t really care to try. One that I was definitely excited to see there was Founders Harvest Ale. The testament for any beer at a beer festival is whether or not you would buy a six pack and this beer passed this test with flying colors. This was my first time trying this beer and it lived up to the hype. The first thing you notice with this beer is the fresh hop aroma that fills your nose with a lovely grapefruit essence. It had a hop bite at first but then mellowed out to a light, smooth beer. I can’t wait to get that six pack!