Blue Chip spotlights another year of beer

Published 10:13 am Thursday, April 3, 2014

Blue Chip's Brewfest features several local beer vendors, including Greenbush Brewing, of Sawyer, Mich.

Blue Chip’s Brewfest features several local beer vendors, including Greenbush Brewing, of Sawyer, Mich. (Leader photo/CRICKET NELSON)

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind.—Whether you consider yourself a craft beer aficionado or simply an ingénue to the brew, you are sure to find a beer that suits your tastes at the Fourth Annual Blue Chip Brewfest. It will be taking place at the Blue Chip Casino from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on April 12.

“With the craft beer craze that’s been happening for so many years, I just got an idea to bring a whole bunch of breweries together, serve some beer and just have people kind of walk around and taste them,” said Jack Elia, assistant general manager of Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa.

Although many people think of craft beers as being rather complex and heavy, the Brewfest is a popular event that caters to all palates.

“I look at it as a little bit of an educational event, too,” Elia said.”People can taste all different types of beers from very light to very heavy, and it’s just grown and grown every year.”

While breweries from all over the country will be represented, Midwestern breweries are slated to have the greatest presence. That will provide event-goers with the opportunity to taste a variety of beers from their hometown favorites as well as providing ideas for new microbreweries they could frequent.

Some local legends that will be represented include Greenbush from Sawyer, Bell’s from Kalamazoo, Shoreline from Michigan City, Drewry’s from South Bend, 18th Street from Gary and Round Barn from Baroda.

Of course, heavy hitters like Miller, Coors and Pabst will be sending representatives, too. Alongside them will be newcomers to the scene, like Twisted K-8 of LaPorte and Burn ‘Em Brewing of Michigan City.

In all, there will be more than 50 breweries participating in the event.

“We’re going to have 54 booths—52 of those are breweries,” Elia said. “We’ll also have a store that shows you how to brew your own beer, and then one of the brewmasters wrote a book, and he’s going to be signing copies of it at the Brewfest. We’re going to have close to 250 beers in all.”

The event has grown so big that Blue Chip has had to add extra space to the venue this year.

“We’re expecting about 2,000 people. This thing has grown so big over the years that this year we’re doing it in the Stardust Event Center, but we’ve also gone out and we’re putting an 80- by 280-foot tent out in the parking lot. You’ll be able to walk through both, sampling the different beers.”

The folks at Blue Chip have also arranged several different events for event-goers to choose from based on their level of interest in craft beers.

“We’ve got three different pieces to the event. One is what we call our Brewmaster Luncheon. We’re going to have a four-course lunch paired with some of the beers from New Holland,” Elia explained. “Then we have a VIP event where we’re going to have eight different breweries that are going to serve sours, firkins and barrel-aged beers.”

Finally, the general admission event will provide access to samples from all of the different breweries.

Tickets can be purchased through Prices range from $99, which includes access to all three events, to $75 for the VIP and general admission events, to $40 for the general admission event alone. Each ticket level includes a variety of promotional items for guests to take home as well.

In addition, there will be a silent auction for premium items such as a mini-fridge, coolers and other beer-themed collectibles, with proceeds benefitting the United Way of LaPorte County. Food will also be available for purchase.

“Also, to be conscious of drinking and driving, we have a designated driver ticket that you can buy,” Elia added. “It’s only $15, and people will get a T-shirt, and then they’ll be able to drink some unique sodas and waters all day long.”