I just found out that for the second year in a row, the Real Ale Fest 2005 has been cancelled, reportedly due (yet again) to the inability of its organizers to find a suitable venue/location. However, the organizers had over a year to work out something so I really wonder how much work they put into it.

I attended the RAF with my brothers in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. Each year got bigger and better with more and more sweaty attendees, including such colourful characters as the "Hop God" and "Margot Kidder". Each year my brothers and I would make off with more and more sampler glasses.

The record attendance for the 2002 event was the straw that broke the Goose Island Pub's back, causing the RAF to move to the Finkl Foundry in 2003 where my brothers and I continued to attend for our annual chance to be hopnoxious, walking around with a sampler of real ale in each hand.

Unfortunately, Chicago had a nightclub tragedy in early 2003 which caused a change in some of the local laws regarding public events and, as a result, the RAF lost its home in 2004 (apparently the Finkl Foundry did not meet requirements stipulated by the new legislation). While a Real Ale pub crawl supposedly took place, my brothers and I did not attend (for me, this mostly had to do with the fact that we were expecting the birth of our twin sons any day - - me and my wife, not me and my brothers).

To hear that the RAF is also not planned for 2005 means to me that the RAF is probably dead and remains now only a piece of Chicago history. It's a shame, really, because it did showcase a lot of small breweries and gave everyone a chance to sample ales from all over the country and even some foreign countries. It was also a growing tradition between my brothers and I. It gave us an excuse to get together and party (my brother Martin is turning 21 in 2006 and next year would have been his first chance to legally participate).

I do hold a hope that something magical happens for 2006, but I have my cynical doubts...

§6 · January 7, 2005 · Life · · [Print]

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