Illinois to Unveil Official State Beer for Its Bicentennial
Almost every state has a long list of “official” things: flag, motto, nickname, song, flower, bird – you name it. Utah has an “official state snack,” which, oddly enough, is Jell-O. Texas has an “official state cooking implement,” which, somewhat humorously, is the Dutch oven. But now, Illinois is going to get an official item to rule them all: To go with the Land of Lincoln’s official state bird (Cubs fans may be dismayed to know it’s the cardinal) and its official state dance (the Square Dance), Illinois is about to get an official beer – for a year, at least.
In the lead up to the 200th anniversary of Illinois’ statehood on December 3, 2018, the state is holding an official kickoff to the yearlong celebration this coming Sunday at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Being introduced at the event will be the state’s official bicentennial beer – an Illinois farmhouse ale crafted by Petersburg’s Hand of Fate Brewing. Though the beer’s name has yet to be revealed, the Chicago Tribune writes that this brew is about as Illinois-bred as it can be, featuring Illinois-grown hops from the Hallowed Hops Farm in Lewistown, a strain of saison yeast cultured by Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago and four grains typically grown in Illinois including corn, wheat, oats and barley.
“We’re celebrating Illinois, so I figured we might as well make it about Illinois products as much as possible,” Hand of Fate founder and head brewer Mike Allison told the Tribune. The special brew has already been available for a sneak preview at the brewery taproom, and Allison said it’s doing “phenomenally well so far.” “It’s been a top-three seller,” he added. “Some nights, it’s the biggest seller.”
Hand of Fate landed the honor to make the official bicentennial beer for Illinois after beating out 19 other in-state brewers in a contest this summer at the Illinois State Fair. But though the victory is sweet, making a beer for the entire state for an entire year is a huge undertaking for a small one-year-old brewery that’s only produced about 400 barrels in 2017. Still, being the official state beer for a year will probably be good for business. “We’re hoping this, some other beers and getting our name out there will hasten things for us,” said Allison. If things go well, maybe they’ll even be around to compete to be the official beer of the tercentennial?