Popular craft beer festival continues its zero waste tradition

Under a perfect cloudless sky, more than 3,500 people—some from as far away as Belgium and Sao Paulo—poured through downtown Oak Park on Saturday for the 10th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review. This year, featuring more than 200 unique craft beers from 85 breweries, the popular midsummer event is the second largest craft beer festival in the Midwest and the largest zero waste craft beer festival in the world.

Micro Brew also featured nine live bands and a deejay, early access to VIP venues and the Hop Challenge, a special event during which participating brewers offered their best version of a single varietal beer. Ticket holders to the Challenge selected the winner by popular vote. Old Irving Brewing Co. won this year’s Challenge with a pale ale called The Polite Dingo. The Chicago-based brewery combined the Australian Vic Secret and Canadian malt for its winning brew.

Over the years, Micro Brew has become a favorite showcase for brewers to introduce their beer to serious craft fans. “This beer festival is what drew us into this vibrant community and essentially helped us find our second home,” said Jennifer Kainz, co-owner of Wild Onion Tied House, which opened in Oak Park one day before the fest. “It highlights local breweries and integrates local food. We appreciate sharing our craft beer with such a big crowd but very low environmental impact.”

On the zero waste front, Micro Brew diverted 86 percent of food scraps and waste material from landfills through recycling and composting, the equivalent of 2,400 gallons, according to Jennifer Nelson, zero waste manager for Seven Generations Ahead (SGA), which produces Oak Park Micro Brew Review. More than 200 volunteers helped with the event.

“Oak Park Micro Brew Review is the day that we look forward to all year long at Oak Park Brewing Company. This festival is the reason that we opened in Oak Park. We are especially fond of the commitment to sustainability, something that is near and dear to our hearts.”
— Jim Cozzens, Brewer/Owner, Oak Park Brewing Company
“Congrats to SGA for proving once again that zero-waste and outstanding beer festival can and should be forever linked.”
— Neal Armstrong, co-owner Kinslahger Brewing Company


Producer Seven Generations Ahead reports the following:

  • More 3,500 beer tasters attended the Micro Brew Review plus an unspecified number of additional visitors who did not drink beer (designated drivers, friends of attendees, other visitors).
  • Attendees came to Oak Park 300 unique ZIP codes, including six Midwestern states, 18 other states, and several cities in Canada, Europe and South America.
  • 85 craft brewers served over 200 different beers.
  • 150 attendees opted for the festival’s VIP package, which provided access to four special Oak Park venues (Beyond Properties, Carnivore, Two Brothers Social Tap and The Beer Shop) featuring unique food and beer pairings.
  • More than 200 volunteers contributed to the event’s success.
  • The 8,000 plates, 5,000 eco-tensils, and 9,000 napkins used at the event were compostable.
  • Compostables (and Recyclables) collected at the event were hauled away by Waste Management, which implements the food scrap collection service in Oak Park.
  • No plastic water bottles were served – all replaced by continuously refreshed serve-yourself water coolers using reusable glass tasting glasses.
  • Proceeds from the event contribute significantly to the ongoing work of Seven Generations Ahead in its efforts to build healthy, sustainable communities and schools throughout the Midwest.