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Beervana: Pitchfork Music Festival

Scott Hoffman

Note: Pitchfork Music Festival was held in Chicago, IL the weekend of July 19-21, 2013

I’m going to get in my “old man” rocking chair for a moment, so please excuse me. I need to lament that this trend towards better beer at music festivals is only a fairly recent development. Not even 5 years ago, you were lucky to find Heineken next to Bud or Miller products. Don’t get me wrong – when it’s 100 degrees outside and the sun is mercilessly beating down on you with no shade in sight, cheap beer tastes like an oasis in the midst of a desert. Still, I suffered through ballpark prices for shit beer when I knew the beer scene in each respective city I visited was thriving or at least on the rise. You young’uns don’t know how good you’ve got it. *gets down from “old man” chair”

As I said, the state of beer at music festivals has improved dramatically. Fests throughout Colorado feature at least a couple craft beer options, and although they may not be unique or #rare, it’s still better than Coors Light. Other festivals across the country are following suit. Pitchfork Music Festival, which just last year featured Heineken as the primary beer, offered Goose Island at the 2013 fest, which just took place a little over a week ago. You may be saying, “Why is that a big deal? I can get Goose Island everywhere now!” And you’d be right if they only offered standard fare. Instead of relying on the beer now distributed out of New York by Anheuser Busch InBev, they predominantly went with the beers still made in Chicago.

Here are the beers that were offered on Saturday and Sunday of the fest:

  • 12-1pm – Nut Brown Ale
  • 1-2pm – Summertime Kolsch
  • 2-3pm – Honker’s Ale
  • 3-4pm – Sofie
  • 4-5pm – Sofie Paradisi
  • 5-5:30pm – Dark Traveler
  • 5:30-6pm – PePe Nero
  • 6-6:30pm – 25th Anniversary
  • 6:30-7pm – Pere Jacques
  • 8-close – Matilda

That doesn’t even include the two collaboration beers available all day – Run the Jewels (created with Killer Mike and EL-P – see video below) and Forcone Session Ale (created with the Pitchfork staff).

Goose Island Collaboration Beer – Run the Jewels from Goose Island Beer Co. on Vimeo.

Are you drooling yet? You should be.

The highlight of the list was Sofie Paradisi, a grapefruit version of the already superb Sofie. If you’re not already familiar with Sofie, it’s a delicious saison style beer brewed with citrus peel and aged in wine barrels. The grapefruit addition gives Paradisi more tart with a dry finish. This adds a different element, with lingering tastes of wine and grapefruit, which complement each other beautifully – basically the perfect summer beer. Give me this beer in 90 degree heat plus high humidity? I’m in heaven.

I’m not expecting the staple festival brews to be shut out of music festivals going forward. There is enough room for variety, and Pitchfork was a small-scale example of how successful it can be.

Feel free to share your beer experience at music festivals in the comment section below!

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