Beer fans enjoy variety at Wicker Park event
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 24, 2014 11:42AM
Attendees at the first Pints in the Park event at Wicker Memorial Park in Highland Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, needed to have umbrellas handy. | Michelle L. Quinn~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2014 2:05AM
HIGHLAND — Not everyone who came out for the inaugural Pints in the Park minded the torrential downpour that battered the park Saturday afternoon.
Luaxann Griffith, of Hammond, said she couldn’t imagine what the weather would’ve been like had the rain not come and washed away much of the stifling humidity that hung over Northwest Indiana. She and drinking companion Tom Granados were trying out 18th Street Brewery out of Gary’s IPA.
“Can you imagine the mosquitoes (if it hadn’t rained)?” she said. “And it was just so humid. It would’ve been awful.”
Event organizer Jeff Dettlo, on the other hand, was devastated, at least at first. Having pre-sold about 500 tickets he was convinced people wouldn’t come out during a rainstorm. Then he saw that a little rain won’t chase people from their beer.
“We watched the radar all week, and the storms were supposed to drop earlier,” Dettlo said. “But it only poured during the VIP hour, and everyone was under their tents.”
Dettlo estimated his first fest brought out at least 1,000 beer lovers, and the only thing he hopes is different next year is that the weather holds out.
“The venue is beautiful. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said.
Thirty-four beers — mostly from Indiana, but some, such as Sierra Nevada and Upland Brewery, were from around the country — set up shop in back of the Wicker Park Social Center. Highland’s popular craft-beer bar, Beer Geeks, also made an appearance, bringing to the table a sour named “Funky Gold Mosaic” and a Cesanne from Prairie Artisan Brewery, an Oklahoma beer maker who has no local agreements.
“I wanted to bring something no one else would have,” Beer Geeks owner Jason Owens said. “I was approached by Jeff a few weeks ago, and as the only beer bar in Lake County, it seemed like I should have a presence. It was a last-minute thing.”
Owens said sours are the “in” beer this season, and he tends to drink seasonal beers. IPAs, however, still are the most popular.
Griffith said she’s more of a dark fan, favoring Three Floyds juggernaut Robert the Bruce, while Granados said he favors American Red Ambers. The two are relatively new to the craft beer universe and recently have been attending local beer fests.
For Tom Allen, of Griffith, and Dion Hadley, of Schererville, Pints in the Park was their first foray into fancy beer, and their stop was Beer Geeks.
“There are all these breweries hitting the area; there are even TV shows about it now. Did you see that, Tom?” Hadley said.
“I want to learn about craft beer, especially the local stuff,” Allen said.