Expanded Micro Brew Review brings crowds to Oak Park
More than 3,500 tickets were sold for the Oak Park Micro Brew Review. Downtown Oak Park hosted the fifth annual event Saturday afternoon, featuring more than 100 craft beers. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:43AM
OAK PARK — People from all over the Midwest came out to celebrate the 5th Annual Micro Brew and Food Review in Oak Park.
“It was definitely worth the drive,” said Lauren Polzin from Akron, Ohio.
“This is the best festival of the year,” Gary Anderson of Oak Park said.
More than 100 craft beer tasting options were provided by more than 50 micro breweries at Saturday’s event. Co-produced by Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Craft Brewer’s Guild, in collaboration with the Downtown Oak Park Association and The Pleasant District, the event was a hit.
New this year, the event spanned both sides of the Green Line tracks, from Lake Street to Pleasant. This expansion included the Pleasant District, a volunteer-driven organization representing businesses on South Marion Street.
“Last year, The Pleasant District was under construction. This year, we were ready and willing to participate,” Marketing and Communication Director Carla Gini said.
Gini said The Pleasant District was approached by Seven Generations Ahead about joining the event. The Micro Brew Review has expanded each year and more room was needed.
“A bonus of the expansion was having more exposure and more eyes seeing our street,” Gini said. “We wanted to show people the new Oak Park.”
“I like the expansion,” Mike Skinner of Palatine said. “It keeps the crowds down.”
Also unique to this year was the unveiling of “Replicale” project beers. The project featured Belgian Abbey Single brewed by 14 Illinois brewers to showcase the different brewing techniques.
“Each brewer started with the same base grain and got to add their special touches and spices,” volunteer Eric Duske said.
Belle Gamboa of North Riverside celebrated her coming wedding with her bridesmaids at the review.
“We love beer and it’s a great time,” Gomboa said. “What could be better?”
Event proceeds went to support Seven Generations Ahead’s non-profit work to build healthy, environmentally sustainable communities.
“The event has always been meant to connect farmers, restaurants and businesses in the community and introducing environmentally sustainable ways of conducting business,” Seven Generations Ahead Executive Director Gary Cuneen said.
Illinois Craft Brewers Guild President Peter Crowley started the festival with Cuneen five years ago.
“We met at a brewer’s dinner and he (Cuneen) explained what his organization does and I immediately thought it would be a good fit for the guild to do an event together,” Crowley said.
The Downtown Oak Park Association provided the street, parking lots and obtained the event liquor license and insurance, Executive Director Pat Zubak said. It also helped promote the event and provided security and clean-up crews.
More 100 volunteers were there to help with the event.
“I decided to volunteer because I’m a home-brewer and I’ve always been interested in micro-brews,” said Jenny Pfafflin from Chicago. “Plus, it’s a great way to spend a Saturday.”
Everything else at the event was true to past years.
“The event is Illinois’s largest outdoor festival, largest festival sponsored by the guild, the only spot you can taste all 14 replicales side-by-side, in a great location, easy to get to and just plain awesome,” Cuneen said.
“It’s my third year here,” said Audrey Savage of Logan Square. “I always have a great time and enjoy all the different types of beer.”