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Try a Pint of Penguin Hops Beer, Help the Shedd's Conservation Efforts

By Victoria Johnson | November 27, 2012 7:29pm

LOGAN SQUARE — Starting Wednesday, you can sample a new brew made with hops grown at the Shedd Aquarium and help the institution's conservation efforts at the same time.

Revolution Brewing, which releases a new beer every Wednesday, used hops harvested from the aquarium's Shedd Gardens to make an ale dubbed Penguin Hops (because penguins hop, get it?).

One dollar from each pint sold will be donated to support the aquarium's local and global conservation efforts.

The crop of hops grown outside the lakefront aquarium will yield some 25 kegs of Penguin Hops, which will be available at the Revolution Brewpub at 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave. and the Revolution Brewing Tap Room at 3340 N. Kedzie Ave.

"The cool thing is that these hops were grown right on the banks of Lake Michigan," Revolution Brewing managing partner Josh Deth said.

Shedd horticulturalist Christine Nye said she decided to harvest the Shedd's hops for beer after two people suggested it in one week.

"I thought, they're right. We should harvest these and make beer," she said.

Nye planted the hops — which grow in vines that can reach 30 feet — five years ago as ornamentation for the aquarium. They were planted in pots to start, but the horticulture staff found their extensive root systems were too restricted and transferred them to a chain link fence to dress up an area under construction at the time.

"They went crazy there," Nye said. "They love it there."

After a few years, a healthy batch of the budding flowers or cones that are the actual beer hops cropped up, and the harvest began. Nye and her fellow Shedd horticulturists delivered the hops to Revolution Brewing in early November and Chicago beer history was made.

Deth was happy to bring attention to Shedd's clean water conservation efforts, something he, too, feels strongly about.

"A good water source [like Lake Michigan] makes great local beer," he said.