The Beer & BBQ Challenge is based on real local people - local craft brewers from the Chicago area that are passionate about their product and every day men and woman that cook the best BBQ. We bring them together to make magic. Learn about them here.
Pete Crowley, Brew Master and Co-Owner of Haymarket Pub & Brewery Chicago, Haymarket Taproom Michigan
Pete Crowley can arguably be the “godfather” of craft brewing in Chicago. His experience and leadership at various breweries in Colorado, Rock Bottom Brewery Chicago, Haymarket Pub & Brewery (and now Taproom in Michigan), Illinois Craft Brewers Guild (and past president), Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, winner of countless brewery awards, and our own Old Irving Park Beer & BBQ Challenge is unprecedented. Oh and he’s a hell of a nice guy to boot.
Pete describes his early years in an interview with The Hop Review. “I graduated from South Carolina in '94 and went to Colorado for what was supposed to be two weeks. The first day I was there I walked into the Flying Dog brew pub. (I went to college on Keystone Light and Milwaukee's Best. If ya couldn't funnel it, we weren't drinking it). I walked in there and they had the Doggie Style Pale Ale which, at the time, was probably one of the hoppier beers available in the country. But I'd never had a craft brew or anything. I didn't understand that they made beer; I didn't get it. I asked the brewer the question "So, what else do you do?" He said "No, I'm the brewer." I'm asking him "Right, so what else do you do? Do you tend the bar, wait tables?" "(Brewer) No, I make the beer." Still confused, I'm thinking "You make beers, so...what's your job? ”They handed me this pint and I was like "What is that!?" I had no idea what hops were. It wasn't pale, yellow and fizzy. I fell in love with it.”
Pete eventually worked his way to Chicago and took on the head brewing duties at Rock Bottom. Soon after, Pete met the love his of life, professionally that is, John Neurater and opened his own place, Haymarket Pub & Brewery in the West Loop. "Rock Bottom used to auction off a "Brewer for a Day" for charity. My business partner's dad (Jack) bought it for him for a Birthday present to come in and brew with us at RB. Jack thought he'd like it but he didn't use it for a year. Finally, his dad calls me and says "hey, I bought this thing for my son a year ago and it expired, can we still do it?” I was like "Ugh, this guy's gonna ask me all these questions. Fine, fine." So John (Neurauter) comes in and does Brewer-for-a-Day, and within four hours we're drinking beers, hitting it off. He makes his own sausage, smokes his own pork shoulders...and he's really into how beer is made. And I was really into how food is made. So we hit it off immediately and within a year of meeting we were already raising money for our own spot. Within three years we were open. It was fast and furious. And we're still really good friends, which a lot of business partners can't say.”
Pete goes on to talk about opening Haymarket and what he was looking for at the time. "John & I looked for a space for about a year. And we wanted a name that was historically significant for Chicago, so we could draw from that. So, when we found this place, I just thought "You gotta be f'n kidding me!" I mean we're a block away from the monument to the Haymarket Riot. And I did a little more research; not only was it probably the 2nd most significant historical event in the city – next to the Great Fire – but nobody today really knows about it. People that live here are like "huh? Haymarket?" So, I fell in love with it immediately.”
Since then Pete has become a decorated brewer that has won over 50 local, national and international awards for his brewing creations including medals from the World Beer Cup®, Great American Beer Festival® and FoBAB. His varieties range from refreshing Pilsners to hoppy ales to rich Imperial Stouts aged in bourbon barrels in our own cellar, a brewing technique that has put him on the national beer map for his pioneering work with the specialty. His impressive array of 32 tap handles behind the bar at Haymarket Pub & Brewery feature more than 10 house brewed varieties with space to offer other craft beer selections as well.
He helped start the Old Irving Park Beer & BBQ Challenge in 2014 and this year Pete and Haymarket are paired with returning contestant Red6BBQ. Make sure you make your way to try the pairing and get Pete to tell you a story or two about the craft brew business in Chicago.
Gerrit Lewis - Pipeworks Brewing Company
When you go to any beer store in Chicago, you’ll likely see Pipeworks beer. Pipeworks Brewing Company has laid claim to great beer, beer label artwork, and clever beer names that have made them well known. They have bold IPAs to a barrel-aged program that have elevated them to be one of the best breweries in Chicago for sure. All thanks in big part to Owner, Founder, Gerrit Lewis.
Gerrit, and his partner Beejay, got the seed for the idea in 2008 when they worked at West Lakeview Liquors and after going to a Dark Load Day event. These guys are beer geeks that felt like they can throw their hat on the table to make a great beer company. They soon did an apprenticeship at De Struise Brouwers in Belgium and soon raised $110k with a help of a kickstrater campaign and other means. Add the great mastery of art driven by Beejay’s art background and you’ve got some unique labels that have helped he beer stand out.
With money, exceptional brewery training, and bad-ass art have turned Pipeworks into a true force and a big following. Come see them on Aug 5 when they pair up with the Dragon Fire BBQ (lead by Chef McCoy) to see how Gerrit's great beer can take great BBQ to another level!
Alison Bower, Ruth & Phil's Gourmet Ice Cream
Ruth & Phil’s is Chicago’s local and organic sourced artisan ice cream and sorbet company specializing in seasonal and unique flavors with less fat. Ruth and Phil's works with local farmers and local ingredients to give you the very best products. The ice creams are made with organic dairy, organic eggs, and evaporated cane sugar, and the sorbets are vegan and loaded with fruit. Alison Bower, a 2002 graduate of the French Pastry School, named the company after her beloved grandmothers, Ruth and Phyllis. Be sure to try the Sour Cream Cinnamon ice cream or their seasonal sorbet, Strawberry Lemon Basil.
Shanna Karamaniolas, Fischman Liquors and Tavern
Shanna Karamaniolas is an amazing entrepreneur and pit master. Married into the business in 2001, she and her husband Gus purchased the Fischman Liquors & Tavern business from family about 6 years ago. After being laid off from an investment firm working on a trading desk for 9 years, she dedicated her time to help her husband build our local neighborhood watering hole. Public relations, marketing, and getting involved with the community helped the business flourish. They were the first to bring craft beer to the far northwest side of Chicago. While other local bars snuck there nose up at them for welcoming these breweries, they just smiled as we saw new faces everyday walking into our business. Shanna and her husband have created a destination with the stellar selection of craft beer and the highly talked about events they host throughout the year. They hope to continue to be that destination spot when Fischman V2 opens later this year in Six Corners at Milwaukee & Irving in Portage Park in the NW side of Chicago. In the mean time, check them out as they flex their BBQ cooking muscle this year paired with Allrise Brewing on Aug 5th!
Hayley Shine, ERIS Brewery and Cider House
Hayley is the Lady of Liquid at ERIS Brewery and Cider House, currently under construction in Old Irving Park. ERIS is targeting a late 2017 opening for the full-service restaurant and bar with plans to craft its own beer and cider. Hayley is partnering with Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza, a pair of ambitious women armed with plenty of industry experience and the courage to take on a project like ERIS.
Hayley’s love for beer dates back to stolen sips of Corona during her early childhood in Florida. She discovered craft beer during college, drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale while struggling through physics problem sets. During her Berkeley days, Hayley put her Bioengineering degree to use exploring the art and science of home brewing, easily becoming the most popular hippie on frat row.
For a dozen years Hayley worked for Rock Bottom Restaurants and Breweries, landing in Chicago in 2012. At the helm of RB Chicago, an institution with a reputation for churning out exceptional brewers, Hayley won an impressive list of brewing awards at World Beer Cup, GABF and FOBAB. Hayley’s brewing expertise will get ERIS off to a great start with beer, and learning the craft of cider making was a key factor that attracted her to the project.
Hayley has participated in the Old Irving Park Beer and BBQ Challenge since its beginning and now lives in the neighborhood. This year ERIS is paired with the Up In Smoke BBQ team led by Ieon Bhairoo, a man who knows his meat. Ieon lives across the street from ERIS and the home team is geared up to impress the neighbors and win it all.
John Laffler, Off Color Brewing
John has always been a supporter of the Beer & BBQ Challenge and a friend as well. He was the distinction of attending the Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest brewing school located in the United States and situated in Lincoln Park, helping grow Metropolitan Brewing, and an integral part of the famed Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island. Apparently, back the day, a particularly insightful ex-girlfriend pointed out that perhaps them moving to Portland for John to get a doctorate in something that made him cranky most of the time may not be the best idea. Since he was happier looking at all the little brewpubs and breweries there than the school itself, John enrolled in Siebel instead. After interning at Metropolitan Brewing, he was hired at Goose Island to scrub floors. A while later they let him fiddle with the barrel program and do research and development brewing.
Then Off Color Brewing was born in early 2013 as a partnership between John and Dave Bleitner, formerly with Two Brothers Brewing. The idea was to focus on brewing forgotten styles of beer, particularly those made in Germany before Reinheitsgebot (i.e. the Bavarian Purity Law) was proclaimed in the late 15th century, effectively condemning myriad styles of beer not made solely with barley, water and hops. They knew there was a hole in the market to fill and especially not go into opening another “IPA” brewery.
This year John and the Off Color crew are paired up with Hatfield and McCoy Barbecue to come up with an incredible entry to this year’s show.
Ieon Bhairoo, Pit master, Up in Smoke BBQ
Ieon Bhairoo, leads Up In Smoke BBQ team, and 2015 Judges Choice BBQ Beer & BBQ Pairing runner-up. Ieon has been working in the Meat Industry for 18 years and currently is responsible for managing over 300 team members for Tyson Foods. He knows how to feed people great food. Ieon lives in Old Irving Park and has 2 beautiful girls currently attending St. Viator with his 3rd daughter starting this upcoming school year. Up In Smoke is Paired up with Eris brewery and Cider house and is determined to leave a unforgettable experience to this year’s attendees.
Andy Holub, Pit Master, Independence Pork @indpork
Softly founded in 2014, the Independence Pork crew organically got to know each other in the backyards of Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood. Tony, Jason, Andy and Adam commonly found themselves at block parties and neighborhood BBQs, predominantly standing around the grill, talking food and beer. Over time, the casual conversations became a little more creative, and the random hangouts turned into communal weekend gatherings; smoking shoulders & briskets, making sausages & sauces, and consuming the yields from the local farmers market and their own backyard gardens. “Being our first year in the competition, we are extremely excited to be paired with Clint and Lake Effect Brewery” says Holub. “Over the last few months, we’ve put a lot of hard work into our preparation and we are ready to throw down a solid pairing full of technique, presentation, and flavor”. Love Food, Love Chicago
Gary Gulley, Alarmist Brewing
Gary graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in 1990 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a focus on structural engineering. Two weeks after college graduation, he foolishly entered the job market by taking a position in the nuclear power industry. It was an awful job and he hated it. Then, 2 incredible things happened.
First, he discovered real beer. Up to that point he hated beer, meaning Bud, Miller, Corona, etc, but somehow he discovered Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Celis White. He thought that it was very lucky to be living in the home state of Celis Brewery when it was still in existence and the first time he had Celis White, well his life literally changed.
The second thing that happened was that a coworker of his began homebrewing – something he had never even heard of before. After hearing him talk about it and watching him brew once, he was hooked! He brewed my first extract beer in 1991. Back then he sanitized with bleach, washed bottles with dish soap, and poured the crappy dried yeast that came with the extract right into the wort. He doesn't remember exactly what his first homebrew tasted like, but sure it was awful but they didn't care. they just remembers being amazed that he could drink a beer that he made myself. Incredible.
Gary moved back to the Chicago area in early 1992 and continued to homebrew for a couple of years. Fast forward to early 2008. he had owned his home for 9 years at the time and had a full unfinished basement that was used for all his handy man stuff. One day, he started thinking about brewing again. It took about 3 batches to get his confidence back and then moved back into all grain brewing. It didn't take long before he had a 15 gallon brew kettle, a mash/lauter tun made from a cooler and a homemade copper manifold, and an erlenmeyer flask for yeast starters. From there he went crazy. He began kegging (I've built two keezers, a chest freezer converted to a kegerator), bought more flasks to do bigger starters, stir plates, lab equipment, refractometer, temperature controllers, heat wraps, the list goes on and on. He no longer drink shit beer. Ever.
Jerry Michel & Travis DuPriest, Brass Monkey BBQ Pitmasters
Brass Monkey BBQ history begins at the old Six Corners' Meat on Milwaukee BBQ Competition, where their winning take on BBQ set them on their path as a funky BBQ competition team. This Irving Park team is a regular participant in Kansas City Barbecue Society contests, ranging from Wisconsin to North Carolina and every place in between. Brass Monkey BBQ regularly hosts fundraisers for Operation BBQ Relief, a volunteer-driven disaster relief organization, for which Jerry is the Illinois State Lead. So, whether you are supporting OBR or enjoying that funky Brass Monkey 'que, we thank Q for all you do! This year Brass Monkey is paired up with Off Color Brewing for some exceptionally fun parings.
Clint Bautz, Lake Effect Brewing Company Master Brewer & Owner
A former architect and urban planner, Bautz brings a special passion for the Great Lakes to his brewing at Lake Effect. “I have this intimate bond with the lakes, knowing that humans are 70 percent water, and that water for Chicagoans is from the lake right out in front of our city. We are the lake and the lake is us,” says Bautz. Founded in 2011, Lake Effect’s current offerings include three flagship beers: Falcon Dive (India pale ale brewed with Falconers Flight and Hallertau Blanc hops), Lake Effect Snow (wheat beer brewed with spice and orange peel) and Bitchin Blonde (Belgain-style blonde wheat ale); its specialty wild and sour ales, including Pamplemouse, Brett Framboise and Brett Cerise; its award-winning stouts; and its collaborative beers with Superdawg, Morton Arboretum, Fountainhead and Medina Golf Club. Clint won Best Beer in 2014, 2015, and runner up Best Beer 2016 and is paired up with @IndepencePork BBQ team this year.
Los Banditos Guajillos
Los Banditos Guajillos, Best BBQ Champs 2015, Best BBQ & Pairing Champs (along with Old Irving Brewing) 2016, is a group of beer drinking foodies that love to BBQ. We have been smoking BBQ for years but never for competition until the Beer & BBQ competition. We love using different flavors than traditionally used in a BBQ competitions and we love to give tasters a variety of flavors. Our first year we created a Mexican inspired recipe with the key ingredient being the Guajillo pepper, hence the name of our team. Check this out this year as they are paired with Begyle Brewing.
Trevor Rose-Hamblin, Brewmaster, Old Irving Brewing Co.
Trevor Rose-Hamblin is the Head Brewer and Co-founder of Old Irving Brewing Co. located in the Old Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago. Rose-Hamblin got his start is restaurants at the young age of 14 years old washing dishes and preparing food in his home town of Ypsilanti, Michigan and has worked his way through every nook and cranny of the restaurant industry since.
Ten years ago, his thirst for culinary knowledge brought Trevor to Chicago where he attended Culinary school at Kendall College. At Kendall, he honed his basic skills and more importantly, landed an Internship at the famed Moto Restaurant. Moto was a blend of science and cuisine and was the first “Mollecular” restaurant in Chicago. At Moto, one could expect to read the menu and then consume it, as it was made from an edible substrate. Depending on the day, the menu could taste like pizza, tacos or maybe even brioche toast and butter. Guests would enjoy the 20 course whimsical menu of Moto where one might eat a cigar that has all the flavors of a Cuban pork sandwich, or perhaps that cannoli near dessert is filled with duck confit and the chocolate sauce is actually a Mexican molé sauce. The platform for creativity is what Rose-Hamblin enjoyed most and, eventually, owner and Chef Homaro Cantu saw Rose-Hamblin’s potential in the kitchen and beyond. After a few years, he was running both iNG and Moto as General manager of both spaces.
Rose-Hamblin eventually focused his sights on brewing beer. His love for the malty beverage took him to Scotland where he apprenticed with Brew Dog brewery known for their creative concoctions like “Tactical Nuclear Penguin,” a 32% beer made boozy from freezing, but is also known for producing high quality beer like “Punk IPA.” Again, the creativity mixed with science was intriguing. Now, Trevor has his own Brew Pub that he calls home at Old Irving Brewing Co, where he blends his love of classic beer styles with his experiences in the restaurant industry. You will see a classic example of German Kolsch, but you will also be challenged by his “Richard Persimmons,” a Dark Belgian Strong Ale brewed with smoked persimmons. If you like cocktails and beer, he has bridged that gap as well with “The Rat Pack,” a Dubbel packed with orange, cherry and whiskey soaked oak chips. The food menu is designed by Chef Matthias Merges (A-10, Yusho, Billy Sunday) and Executive Chef Michael Shrader is perfect mix of high quality pub fare with a few items that will tantalize the senses of the foodie crowd as well like a saffron waffle topped with house cured salmon and black truffle egg salad.
His mango Sentential IPA won Best Beer & BBQ Pairing (with Los Banditos) and Best Beer in 2016. Check them out this year as they're paired up with team Pigsicle.
Brian Hayes, HazyQ BBQ
Brian Hayes, leader of the HazyQ BBQ team, and 2015 Judges Choice BBQ Beer & BBQ Pairing champ (along with MoodyTongue) is no stranger to good BBQ and good beer. He's surrounded by some of the best chefs, brewers, and restauranteurs in Chicago all live in Old Irving Park. Brian is also a daddy to two little girls that attend St Viator Elementary School. Check him out this year as he's paired up with Oak Park Brewing.
Alderman John Arena, Inglorious Basters
Alderman John Arena, a resident of Portage Park since 1996, was a successful small business owner and worked in the advertising industry before running for Alderman in 2011. Together with his wife Jill, they have raised their family on the northwest side, sending their two children to public schools and supporting our local stores. It is love for this community, and his belief that it could be revitalized that prompted his interest in joining, and later becoming vice president of, the Portage Park Association and ultimately led to his decision to run for Alderman. He's also a champ BBQ pit-master leading the Inglorious Basters BBQ team winning best Beer & BBQ Pairing in 2014 with Dry Hop Brewing. This year he's paired with Maplewood Brewing Company to get another shot at the title.
Matt Walsh and his co-pitmaster Steve Kwasiborski of the Hatfield & McCoy Barbecue Team
Hatfield and McCoy Barbecue is made up of two head cooks – Matt Walsh and Steve Kwasiborski, both from the suburbs of Chicago. They first met at a small town rib cook off in 2013 and became good friends while competing against each other in several non-sanctioned and amateur events. "Early in 2014 we started talking about entering a couple of KCBS contests. It made sense for us to team up – we were both scoring well in area contests, each had the necessary equipment, and we could keep our wives happy by splitting the cost of entry fees. Hatfield and McCoy’s (the name is in reference to our differing opinions on the best baseball team in Chicago) first KCBS event was Smoke on the Prairie in Brimfield, IL in June 2014. A 5th place rib call and finishing just out of the top 10 overall in a field of top-notch competitors was all that was needed to push the team towards entering more KCBS events." Matt says. This year they are paired up with Off Color Brewing to get a chance at a Beer & BBQ Challenge trophy!