BEVERLY — A dangerous race deserves a dangerous beer.
Hence, Snake Hill is a perfect complement to the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic set for 4 p.m. July 24. The 12th annual bike race is free to attend.
Spectators will congregate in the festival area on the grounds of the Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic and Treatment Center at 10650 S. Longwood Drive in Beverly.
The South Side beer-makers joined forces to create a Berliner Weisse — a tart, fruity, highly effervescent ale that many breweries shy away from because of the risk of contamination, Horse Thief Hollow owner Neil Byers said.
"If done incorrectly, it could be terribly disgusting. It would taste like rank cheese," Byers said of the beer that has a 36-hour gestation period.
Byers told of a Midwestern brewery that once made a bad batch of Berliner Weisse. The putrid brew contaminated the equipment. To this day the brewery is unable to make certain types of beer as a result of the flub.
But when done right, the low-alcohol beer is a perfect complement to summertime events, and Byers is confident in the team of brewers from his restaurant as well as those from nearby Argus Brewery.
"They are putting it all out on the line," he said.
Berliner Weisse is commonly mixed with flavored syrups. The brewers reached out to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in Mount Greenwood when looking for fruits and other flavors to produce the syrups.
The result is five homegrown flavors that allow drinkers to customize Snake Hill with a splash of blueberry, basil-orange, cherry, rhubarb or raspberry syrup, Byers said.
Horse Thief Hollow will debut Snake Hill the day before the big bike race. Patrons will be able to sample the brew at 6 p.m. July 23 at the brewpub at 10426 S. Western Ave.
Argus Brewery, the event's beer sponsor, also will sell Snake Hill on day of the bike race along with the craft brewery's other signature suds.
An enjoyable yet dangerous beer is the perfect complement to the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic where riders commonly reach speeds of 35 mph as they speed through the 1.1 mile course in about 1½ minutes, said Grace Kuikman, communications coordinator for the Beverly Area Planning Association.
"This race only attracts high-level amateur and professional riders," Kuikman said.
Snake Hill is among the challenges for riders. The brewers named the event's signature beverage for the course hill at 105th Place and Seeley Avenue, Byers said.
This is the second year that the Beverly race will be part of the Intellegentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series. The Southwest Side neighborhood will host Day 5 of the eight-day criterium. Riders earn points throughout the series with a cumulative winner at the end.
Riders can also win prize money during individual races by winning "primes." Primes are paid for by neighborhood sponsors and are awarded to a rider who wins a designated lap within the race. Last year, nearly $3,000 was collected and distributed to riders in the form of primes, Kuikman said.
"When you have the primes, really every lap is an opportunity to win prize money," she said.
The Intellegentsia Cup is an offshoot of the Tour of America's Dairyland. Upon partnering with the circuit last year, a women's race was added. The women's race returns to Beverly this year at 4:40 p.m., followed by the men's race at 6:30 p.m.
Several local competitors also will participate in the race as members of the Beverly Bike and Ski/Vee-Pak Racing Team. The group was formed seven years ago and competes throughout the Midwest. Fans can easily identify the neighborhood team by their red, white and blue jerseys.
Joining the Intellegentsia Cup last year also meant moving the race from its traditional Friday date to a Thursday. Kuikman said the change didn't seem to affect attendance, but a heat wave settled in on race day and likely kept some casual fans at home in the air conditioning. She's hoping for more pleasant weather this year and doesn't expect the Thursday start to be a factor.
"During the summer, Thursday really is the new Friday," she said.
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