Ninety-two breweries – mostly from Illinois and the Midwest – provided 4,500 craft beer lovers with samplings of nearly 400 unique beers during the 8th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review on Aug. 15 in downtown Oak Park. The event – produced by Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild – included the extremely popular “ReplicAle” feature of the Guild, which engaged 59 brew masters brewing American Saisons with their unique variations that attendees could taste and compare.
A rainstorm blew through Oak Park shortly after the 8th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review main event was getting underway, but the heavy downpour lasted briefly and didn’t dampen the spirits of the 4,500 craft beer enthusiasts. The event - made possible by the generosity of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild - mainly supports the sustainability work of Seven Generations Ahead. The Guild also retains some of the proceeds to support their work in promoting the craft beer industry in Illinois.
All told, the 8th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew was the largest-zero waste craft beer festival in the Midwest, and remains one of the highest quality and beautifully located craft beer festivals in the region.
“Micro Brew 2015 was a great example of how fun sustainability can be,” Jen Nelson, Zero Waste program manager, said. “Thanks to the zero waste team of volunteers, more than 4,000 attendees and 10 restaurants successfully composted 7,000 pounds and recycled over 700 pounds! What a great way to keep these resources from heading to a landfill!"
Many attendees also stopped by the SGA tent and left their marks with haiku poems composed on the spot. A lot of them enjoyed the seemingly endless supply of delicious duck sliders served up by the Maple Leaf Farms crew. Some MBR fans had a blast posing for photos behind the wheel of the Goose Island beer bus. The festival site was filled with large and small groups of friends enjoying a well-spent midsummer afternoon together. In all, Micro Brew drew a festive and fun crowd.
To get a full picture of Micro Brew Review's environmental, community and regional impact, here are the impressive numbers it racked up this year:
- More than 4,000 beer tasters attended the Micro Brew Review plus roughly 500 additional visitors who did not drink beer (designated drivers, friends of attendees, other visitors).
- Attendees came to Oak Park from 216 ZIP codes, including multiple cities throughout Canada and the United Kingdom.
- 92 craft brewers from Illinois and beyond served nearly 400 different beers. Visit www.sevengenerationsahead.org/microbrew for the complete list.
- 600 attendees participated in the ICBG’s ReplicAle Project Reception, which featured a record-setting 59 brewers who showcased their unique approach to brewing Saison.
- 250 volunteers contributed their time by filling vital roles — from checking tickets to monitoring Zero Waste stations.
- Attendees used 8,000 plates, 5,000 eco-utensils, and 9,000 napkins that were all compostable.
- Approximately 80 percent of all waste was diverted from landfills.
- Compostables (and recyclables) collected at the event were hand sorted by dedicated volunteers and hauled away by Waste Management, Inc., which implements the food scrap collection service in Oak Park.
- No plastic water bottles were served. People quenched their thirst by filling their reusable tasting glasses at serve-yourself water coolers at stations around the festival grounds.
Other event highlights included:
- From the Metra Station overlooking North and South Marion Street, Chicalba bagpiper, Luke Cunningham, signaled the taps to pour by playing to crowd cheers on Marion Street as the main event kicked off at 3 p.m.
- Delectable food offerings from Mancini’s Italian American Bistro, Maya del Sol, The Kinderhook Tap, The Heritage, The Khyber Pass, Puree’s Pizza & Pasta, Marion Street Cheese Market, G.H. Cretors Popcorn and Maple Leaf Farms (Indiana).
- Musical offerings from DJ Dan Brice, Tank & the Beez, The Marquis Brothers, Meadowcroft, Johnny Alletto, Lake Side City, No Love for Linus, Falling Stars, The New Normal, The London Gentlemen, The Accidentals, Under Cover, The Greydowns, The 9 Spot and The Velvet Jimis.
2015 Oak Park Micro Brew Review Sponsors
Goose Island Beer Co., WBEZ 91.5, Country Malt Group, Best Malz, White Labs, Burton Conry Architecture Design, Black Rock, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Whole Foods Market, AAA Rental Center, Downtown Oak Park, Marion Street Cheese Market, Maple Leaf Farms, G. H Cretors Popcorn, The Barrel Run, Chiro One, The Kinderhook Tap, Blue Prairie Group, Two Brothers Brewing, Northwestern Mutual, The Beer Shop, The Noble Kinsman, Consolidated Printing