It’s my opinion there’s nothing more sublime than the marriage of beer and music! Why then, does it seem there haven’t been as many beer festivals focused on this “pairing” rather than music as background noise?
The Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois played host to the Brews & Blues Festival, a beautiful blend of beer and blues put on by the same people that bring us the ever-wonderful Beer & Spirits Festival in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin! From the ballroom located in the gorgeous street-designed hallway of shopping centers came the incessant sound of fun; hoards of people talking and jammin’ blues playing.
My friend Scott and I entered VIP a tad bit late, but thoroughly enjoyed the benefits they offered; a sexy blue festival t-shirt, an hour of early admittance, a special VIP lounge in the ballroom’s balcony featuring special beer, the ever-popular pretzel necklace, unlimited food samples, and even meal vouchers!
Proceeding up the stairs to the VIP lounge, we found select special beers only available to the VIP ticket holders that, unlike the rest of the sampling, required no drink ticket deposit and fest-goers were allowed to pour as much as they’d like into their tasting glass, we just couldn’t take the bottle. After sampling through the VIP offerings, we headed through the rest of the festival’s lineup, carefully (though, needlessly) saving our drink tickets for things we were very excited for.
With each entry, fest-goers received 15 drink tickets, set in place by Illinois state law. Each ticket would score you a 2 oz pour of your choice beer (also state law), but sometimes more depending on the brewery or rep. More tickets could be purchased for roughly $1 per ticket, but with some of the reps not caring whether or not you gave your ticket to them, it was a crap-shoot (despite constant reminders from the band). We had a pocket full of tickets left at the end, but my wife was also our DD.
While it’s an understandable law set in place for safety’s sake, it becomes completely redundant when a rep WANTS to pour their beers for anyone and everyone to spread their company’s word. When people are worried about their ticket allotment, they’re much less likely to try a few beers from one brewery as they are to spread the wealth and possibly drink what they already know. A solution to this problem? Make those tickets worth something! If there was incentive for the rep to collect the tickets, for, say, #1 brewery at The Brews & Blues Festival bragging rights, etc., it might be a different situation.
In addition to plenty of tasty beers which ran the gamut of styles, the Brews & Blues Festival also offered fantastic food samples! Personally, I’m not a fan of shrimp (well, seafood in general), but the New Orleans Gumbo offered by the Pheasant Run was superb as was the pulled pork sammie we found ourselves eating at the cash concessions (free with our VIP food voucher!). Other samples of food from Cabot Cheese, Kangaroo Chips, and Tastefully Simple (beer bread) were scattered throughout the festival as well, keeping the stomach filled with something other than pure liquid. Thoughtfully, this festival was set up with not only food, but designated drivers and people with Celiac disease in mind as well! Gourmet sodas from Sprecher, Goose Island, and Bald Eagle as well as gluten free beer and cider kept one of our friends happy.
Last, but certainly not least, the talented Kevin Purcell & The Nightburners kept the tunes a-rollin’ throughout the festival, rockin’ the blues. Unfamiliar with their band, I believe what I heard was a combination of both originals and covers, many of which captivated the crowd so well, they completely turned their attention from imbibing to gazing and frequently dancing!
A fun, unique, and total success of a festival for year one, the Brews & Blues Festival held at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois will be something worth keeping your eye out for next year, and if you’re the traveling type, stay in one of the available rooms and have yourself a great time!
All photos taken by and Copyright 2012 of Marc aka Network XXIII of www.Network23photos.com Thank you Marc!