Should you love rock and roll and beer – and if you love one, odds are you enjoy the other – the world might have seemed slightly askew during the last two years. That’s how long Heineken has been the beer sponsor for the Pitchfork Music Festival, one of the jewels of Chicago’s summer music landscape.
In its early years, Pitchfork did business with Goose Island, which meant our thirsts were quenched mostly by Goose’s IPA and 312 Urban Wheat Ale. OK, they’re not the two most adventurous beers in the history of summer drinking, but solid, Chicago-made craft beer at a Chicago music festival? Made sense.
But then Heineken showed up with its bags of Dutch money, and never quite fit. We weren’t at a Massachusetts yacht club, for god’s sake; this was summer rock and roll in Chicago. That is not Heineken time.
So here’s the good news: Goose Island has signed a three-year contract to become the exclusive beer served at Pitchfork Fest once again. At next month’s festival, the main bars will serve 312, IPA and Green Line pale ale on draft. (Yes, 312 and IPA are barely brewed in Chicago anymore, but still – beats Heineken.)
The exciting part is the addition of what amounts to almost a “beer stage” at the festival: a specialty bar featuring two beers created specifically for the fest and one handle that will rotate throughout the weekend. It will be the most adventurous beer options Pitchfork has seen in its nine years of existence (which includes the first year when it was known as Intonation Fest).
The two new beers both sound promising for repeated drinking on a hot July day. One is Forcone Session Ale, a pale ale developed by Pitchfork staffers and Goose brewers that clocks in at a festival-friendly 5 percent alcohol.
The other, a collaboration between Goose and Pitchfork performers Killer Mike and El-P, is called Run the Jewels (which is also the name of Killer Mike and El-P’s musical collaboration). It is a 5.4-percent alcohol, dry-hopped Belgian wheat ale.
Todd Ahsmann, a Goose brand manager, said the performers took the collaboration seriously.
“These guy know their beer and were very ‘humbled and honored’ to be making one with us,” Ahsmann said. “They really put out some good suggestions as to what they wanted. Killer Mike was talking about how his grandfather was a moon shiner and would have been proud of him.”
The rotating beers at the specialty bar will include well-known Goose beers such as Matilda, Sofie, Nut Brown Ale, Honkers Ale, Summertime, Pepe Nero and Pere Jacques, plus some quasi-rarities, like Sofie Paradisi (Sofie with grapefruit), The Illinois (an imperial IPA), 25th Anniversary Ale (an English bitter), Dark Traveler (a dark lager), Golden Goddess (a kolsch) and Cucumbersome Pils (a cucumber pilsner).
Ahsmann said Goose is so pleased to be back in the fold that employees at its Fulton Street brewery are working a half-day on the festival’s first day, and every employee is getting a ticket to the show.
“We'll be able to walk over together as a company when the gates open at 3 p.m. on Friday,” Ahsmann said.
“We took a chance and supported the festival in year one and are once again proud to be associated with a company that calls Chicago home,” he said. “It has been fun to watch how Pitchfork.com has grown since that first festival to have international reach and influence. Plus we like that we can have them over to the brewery on short notice for a beer to geek out about beer and music.”
Geek away, beer and music lovers.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun