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South Side Home Brewers Compete to Have Their Beers Sold at New Pub

By Casey Cora | July 2, 2013 6:40am
 The winner of the home-brewing competition will have their recipe brewed and poured at Beverly's Horse Thief Hollow.
Bubbly Creek Barrel Brawl
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BRIDGEPORT — The daydream for many home brewers is getting good enough to have their beer brewed and sold at the local tap.

That's exactly the top prize at the upcoming Bubbly Creek Barrel Brawl, a home brew competition hosted by H.O.P.S., also known as the Homebrewer's Pride of the South Side.

Here's how it works: Up to 25 amateur brewers will be pouring their creations at Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. on July 13. The beers will be judged two ways: first by a handful of certified judges from the Beer Judge Certification Program and again in the People's Choice competition.

The winner of the judge's competition will have the recipe brewed and poured at Horse Thief Hollow, the Beverly brewpub at 10426 S. Western Ave. Patrons, meanwhile, can pay $25 for entry to sample all of the liquid goods. The entry fee doubles as a year's worth of dues for the H.O.P.S. club, too.

Founded in 1995, the club meets monthly at the Bridgeport VFW, 3202 S. May St.

It started mostly as a way for guys — South Siders and North Siders alike — to sample, swap and and critique each other's beers and brewing methods. The group also welcomes winemakers and the occasional distiller.

"I can't say for sure if it’s the first home-brewing club, but it’s one of the first. The guys can give you some of the old-timer tips you might not necessarily get with the younger guys," said Tony Pawela, 38 and a four-year club veteran. "They get really technical. 'What temperature did you do for this?' or 'I'm getting off flavors. Here's what to do to make it better.' It’s a good learning experience for brewers."

Each year the VFW hosts the group's Oktoberfest extravaganza, where patrons can pay $25 to sample to 70 professional and amateur brews, plus all the food they can eat "for as long as you can keep a level head," Pawela said.

Now in its second year, the "Barrel Brawl" was started as a way to connect home brewers in Chicago's booming craft beer scene, including Chaos and the Evanston Home Brew Club.

Last year, two beers were brewed commercially at Haymarket pub and brewery in the West Loop: Nathan Barth's "Rex's Brew" American pale ale and Jeff Adams' "Wilbert Wondersniff" Wheat Ale.

The Bubbly Creek Barrel Brawl takes place 1-5 p.m. July 13 at Co-Prosperity Sphere. To enter the contest or buy tickets, visit the event's official website.