On a hot and sunny Saturday, Blue Chip Casino closed off the main level of its parking garage to welcome craft beer lovers of all legal ages to the 8th annual Blue Chip Brewfest. As with all of Blue Chip’s events, the proceeds from this year’s Brewfest will go to a charitable organization, this time to support veterans.
General admission scores you a pint glass to take to booths hosted by more than 70 local breweries to get a taste of the three or four beers they have on tap. For all of the designated drivers, Blue Chip Casino had them covered with complimentary specialty soda and water. But the day began earlier for those who went all-in on the Brewmaster Lunch, featuring a flight of five beers from Revolution Brewing.
Jack Elia, founder of Blue Chip Brewfest, praised the luncheon for what it offers patrons. “It’s a four-course lunch that has four different beers,” Elia explained, “and [patrons] get one beer as they walk in the room.”
Josh Deth, featured Brewmaster who founded Revolution Brewing in 2010, entertained the room with everything from the history of craft and home brewing to his own history in the business, culminating in his impressive title as Chairman of the Party of Revolution.
“You’ve got to always think about what beers are going to be fresh and in season,” Deth said. “Freshness is super important to Revolution. We try to have the freshest beer out there.”
Blue Chip Executive Chef Nic Manning explained his plan to perfectly pair each pour with the exclusive-to-the-event surf-and-turf menu.
“It’s like classic wine pairing,” Manning said about the final course. “At the end, we have a pineapple chiffon cake. That’s going with a [Galaxy Hero] IPA with a lot of tropical notes, so the two of them together really blend.”
The VIP event followed the Brewmaster lunch and featured Bloomington-based Upland Brewing. This year, the event focused on sours. Although not strictly a sours company, Upland opened their Wood Shop in 2016, enabling them to produce larger batches of their sours.
“Upland is trying to get as many people exposed to what we’re doing and this style of beer,” said Adam Covey, Quality Manager at Upland Brewing.
Brewmaster ticketholders were able to attend the VIP event and enjoy early access to the Brewfest’s main event outside. VIP Pat Gallagher, who grew up in Munster, admits his favorite brewmaster is the Three Floyds Brewing Company, but explained that he comes every year to try something new.
“I like to try different beers,” Gallagher said. ‘They have lots of breweries that come here, and each one will bring a variety of different beers to try.”
Three Floyds Brewing Company was, indeed, in attendance. To offer something special to the Brewmaster attendees and VIPs, Funari brought their barley wine, Behemoth, assuming it might run dry by the time the gates opened to general admission. Their approach is simple, said Phil Funari, who works in the Northern Indiana Sales division for Three Floyds Brewing Company.
“We want to bring some really good beers out here without any pretense or hype and just present them to people and say ‘here, drink this and tell us what you think.’”
This was a common thread among many of the brewers at the Brewfest. Like Three Floyds Brewing Company, there was a major focus on local ingredients from around Indiana.
“We’ve got Laser Snake,” said Funari. “It’s an India-na Pale Ale, and it features malts that are grown not too far from here in Indiana.”
Craft cravers came from near and far to try the brews at the booths all throughout Blue Chip Casino. Judy Kovalcik of Michigan City was celebrating her birthday and bought tickets as soon as Blue Chip announced it would be celebrating Brewfest on her birthday. Also celebrating with her today was her sister, who came from Cadillac City, Michigan.
Steve Taylor of Elkhart came with his fiancé, who turned him on to craft beers a couple years ago. This was their second Brewfest together.
“I’ve been acquiring the taste for it,” Taylor admitted.
If your craft beer taste buds are already in bloom or just sprouting, keep an eye out next year for what will be Blue Chip’s 9th Annual Brewfest. For more information about Blue Chip Casino, please visit www.bluechipcasino.com.
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