PLAINFIELD – Since its inception four years ago, the nonprofit, all-volunteer Midwest Brewers Fest has raised more than $60,000 for two charities, said Ken McMullen, president and brewmaster at Hopvine Brewing Co. in Aurora.
McMullen said the Midwest Brewers Fest is the largest single donor to the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation and one of the largest donors to the national organization Pints for Prostates. This year, the fest has added a third charity: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, he said.
One hundred percent of the proceeds go to charity, McMullen said. More than 300 volunteers participate, according to the Midwest Brewers Fest Facebook page. This year’s event is Saturday. McMullen is anticipating 3,500 attendees.
“It’s one day, and the main focus is beer,” McMullen said. “We’re just beer geeks. We do it out of our common love for craft and to build something in the community with it.”
An interesting feature at the Midwest Brewers Fest is the presence of home brewers, McMullen said. Some of the fest’s volunteers actually worked at the state level to change the laws restricting where home brewed beer could be served, he said.
“Last year, we were the first in the state to legally have it [home brewed beer]," McMullen said. “The law had said you could not take home brew out of your house. If you went to your sister’s birthday party and brought home brew, that was illegal.”
At this year’s Midwest Brewers Fest, about 70 different breweries will be represented, along with a few cideries and meaderies, McMullen said. Each brewery will bring at least two different varieties, he added. That means around 200 different types of beer will be on site that day.
Three different “Americana folk music” bands will be on the main stage near the beer sampling. A variety of popular Chicago area food trucks will be on site, too. McMullen said, along with beer-related vendors.
Special features that day include food demonstrations and beer pairings by professional chefs, and 20 different cask ales – including some made specifically for the Midwest Brewers Fest – and even a few hard-to-come-by beer, he added.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Midwest Brewers Fest
WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Plainfield Riverfront Park, 24321 W. Lockport St., Plainfield
ETC: Regional brewers, nearly 200 craft beers, beer-centric food. Music, casks of rare and custom-brewed ales, sampling of home brews from Chicago area home brew clubs, live brewing demonstrations, information sessions from craft beer industry insiders, commemorative T-shirts and glasses, shuttle services. Midwest Brewers Fest is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation.
TICKETS: $65 early entry (noon), $45 general admission, $10 for beer and food pairings, $5 for designated drivers