Saturday, April 20th saw the the Third Annual Mahomet Craft Beer Festival hosted by JT Walker’s in downtown Mahomet. Starting at 2 p.m., Mahomet’s Main Street between Lincoln and Lombard was lined with 39 breweries from around the state dispensing beer to hundreds of people. Entry was free if you weren’t drinking, but for $25 you could get a commemorative glass and 20 tickets. You could also buy tickets for $1 each and use a plastic cup if you had plenty of drinkware already. Drinks were usually two tickets for a 3oz pour, and six tickets for 9oz.
All the local big names were there, showing off the Champaign-Urbana cHOPS (get it?): Triptych, Blind Pig, 25 O’Clock, Riggs, and, of course, JT Walker's, were there with 2-5 of their brews on tap. There were also tables from Alto Vineyards and Silver Tree serving wine and liquor and a huge spread from Homer Soda if you want something non-alcoholic or had kids in tow. The majority of the breweries present were from other parts of Illinois, which meant getting to try lots of brand new brews. (A full list of the participating breweries can be found here.)
We arrived a few minutes after two to an already growing crowd and a long line waiting for entry. The line was pretty slow moving and we didn’t get into until nearly three. The event went til six so we still had plenty of time to enjoy the varieties. I went with several friends who all enjoy different types of beer, so we got to sample a pretty large percentage of those available.
I tend to shy away from stouts and porters, especially when standing around in the sun as we were doing. So I focused on pilsners, IPAs, and wheat beers, many of which had interesting and fun flavors added or imparted from the hop and yeast combinations used.
Here’s the list of beers I tried:
- Bootiful Ghoul from Moonraiser Brewing Co
- Grandma’s Fruit Salad from Triptych
- Cherry Wood Wheat from Big Thorn Farm
- Everyday Hero from Revolution Brewing
- Tyrant’s Blood from Effing Brew Company
- Feelix from One Trick Pony
- Haze Down Under from Penrose Brewing Company
- Peri from Twenty-Five O’Clock
- And Big Boy Pilsner from Monarch Brewery
My first beer, Bootiful Ghoul was an IPA with mango and passionfruit. Moonraiser Brewing Co is Chicago’s first all-vegan brewery, which is pretty cool even if you’re not vegan. I guess I didn’t really think about other beer being non-vegan. Bootfiul Ghoul was pretty enjoyable, but it had a strong acidic finish, and while I didn’t mind it, my friends didn’t love it. The second beer, Grandma’s Fruit Salad from Triptych, was an Imperial Lactose Vanilla IPA with peach, pineapple, and tangerine.
My favorite beer of the day was Peri, with both Haze Down Under and Big Boy Pilsner as close runners up. All three had bright, light notes but strong hops so they didn’t feel thin or weak. I would also recommend Tyrant’s Blood from Effing Brew Company; though it is a Red Rye beer it was toasty and deep like a Brown and had a lot of complexity.
The selection of breweries and brews this year was excellent; no matter your preferences you could find a handful of beers to enjoy and test. When you bought tickets you also received a golf tee which could be used to vote for your favorite brewery. I gave mine to Twenty-Five O’Clock since they made my favorite beer of the day.
This year also had more food trucks present including Dragon Fire Pizza and Chester's BBQ, so festival goers had more options for food: A solid strategy with a street full of people drinking beer. The far end of the street, closer to Lombard, was dominated by smokers and groups competing in the BBQ competition. There was also live music throughout the event with the group New Souls playing for the majority of the time we were there. They even played the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which guaranteed a thrilled crowd.
I think the best part of the event was seeing how many breweries are making great beer around our state. I made sure to make notes of where my favorites are located so I can plan a state-wide beer tour. You should make sure to review the brewery list and do the same.
Photos by Mary Wakefield