Hand Of Fate

Photo provided by Hand of Fate Brewing Co.

The official beer of Illinois’ bicentennial will, naturally, taste like Illinois.

by Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune, Article source

The beer, whose name will be announced at the bicentennial kickoff at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield on Dec. 3, is made by Hand of Fate Brewing in the tiny town of Petersburg. It features Illinois-grown hops, yeast cultured in Chicago, and grains typically harvested in the Land of Lincoln.

Hand of Fate founder and head brewer Mike Allison described the beer as an Illinois farmhouse ale” made with saison yeast. The beer, at an approachable 5.5 percent alcohol, is already on tap at his brewery about 25 miles northwest of Springfield. It will get a significant push across the state during the yearlong lead-up to Illinois’ 200th anniversary of statehood Dec. 3, 2018.

It’s done phenomenally well so far,” Allison said about the Illinois Farmhouse Ale that goes for $5 a glass, or $1.50 for a 4.75-ounce taster. It’s been a top-three seller. Some nights, it’s the biggest seller.”

Allison said the beer is made with hops grown at Hallowed Hops Farm in Lewistown, an earthy saison yeast strain from Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago, and grains typically grown in Illinois: 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,” Allison said.

Hand of Fate, which opened amid the national craft beer boom in mid-2016, scored the bicentennial brewing honor by beating 19 other Illinois breweries in a contest at the state fair this past summer. Allison’s champion beer, called What the Fuzz, was a cream ale made with peach black tea, various fruits and ginger. Both fair attendees and a three-person panel of beer experts picked it as the winner.

Allison’s prize was the opportunity to come up with a beer that will get a big platform during the bicentennial hoopla. It will be available on draft and in 12-ounce cans through 2018. Hand of Fate — a small brewery on pace to make a mere 400 barrels of beer in 2017 (one barrel equals two standard-sized kegs) — bought a 30-barrel fermentation tank from LaGrow Beer Co.in Chicago to boost production for the project.

The packaged version will be made at a to-be-determined production brewery and distributed in a commemorative bicentennial can.

The hope is that people will want to keep the can,” Allison said.

The beer will be phased out at the end of 2018, but it could endure under another name if it’s a hit, Allison said.

Making the state’s bicentennial beer has accelerated Hand of Fate’s business plan.

The five-year plan was to open a production facility,” Allison said. We’re hoping this, some other beers and getting our name out there will hasten things for us.”

Allison, a longtime homebrewer, started Hand of Fate with his wife after 22 years as a funeral director. A client who had recently buried her father bought the building so that Allison could launch the brewery.

I enjoy this a lot more,” Allison said of his new vocation. It’s much more positive.”


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