BEVERLY — Horse Thief Hollow has been making beer in Beverly for the past five years. On Tuesday, the popular brewpub began canning its beer for the first time, partnering with the organizers of a local 16-inch softball tournament.
Wang Dang Doodle (4.8 percent alcohol by volume) is a German Pilsner-style beer. It was canned in the brewpub at 10426 S. Western Ave. in the morning Tuesday before the doors opened for lunch, said Matt Johnsen, assistant brewer at Horse Thief Hollow.
“This is one of the things you always dream about when you get into brewing,” Johnsen said as he held a freshly sealed can of beer.
The 12-ounce cans of Wang Dang Doodle feature a photo of nearby Kennedy Park along with a brief description of the Papa Hops 16” Softball Tournament. About 32 teams will square off at the 5th annual tournament July 13th. The rare Friday tournament is played at Kennedy, Beverly and Mount Greenwood parks.
Kennedy Park, at 11320 S. Western Ave. in Morgan Park, hosts the championship game under the lights each year, which is where the photo on the can was taken. There’s also nod on the can to the late Tom Hopkins as well as a description of the foundation started in his honor.
Liam Hopkins founded the charity along with his siblings to honor their dad. They have raised more than $100,000 from the tournament over the past four years. The proceeds from the tournaments have helped 15 local families affected by cancer. A portion of the proceeds have also been donated to eight nearby grade schools to support their athletic departments.
“About a year ago, we reached out just trying to see if we (Papa Hops) could work together,” Hopkins said Tuesday about Horse Thief Hollow.
Those conversations led to the canning on Tuesday. Some 35 cases of the Wang Dang Doodle will be given to the organizers of the tournament. The rest will be sold in six packs for $12 at Horse Thief Hollow, Johnsen said.
The softball tournament pictured on the beer cans has become a staple in the neighborhood and has established itself among 16-inch softball enthusiasts throughout the city. Hundreds of fans flood Kennedy Park for the final games.
Jim Cornelison of the Chicago Blackhawks even sang the National Anthem before the championship began last year. And members of the Chicago Bears as well as young cancer patients have thrown out the first pitch to the roar of the crowd.
Horse Thief Hollow produced 1,200 cans with the softball tournament’s logo. The brewpub will set up for a second canning run on Thursday for Spoonful, a double dry hopped IPA. These will be placed in 16-ounce cans and sold in four-packs for $16, Johnsen said.
Both the IPA and Wang Dang Doodle cans will be available starting Friday at Horse Thief Hollow. So far, the brewery doesn’t have any plans to sell outside of the walls of its building, Johnsen said.
“I put out a challenge to our brewers that I wanted a beer that’s both refreshing in the summer and satisfying in the fall,” said Byers, who added that Wang Dang Doodle was inspired by Horse Thief Hollow’s popular 18 Rebellion. This Kolsch-style beer won a Bronze medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.
Johnsen hopes fans of the brewery pick up some beer for their Fourth of July barbecues and other weekend festivities. In fact, he’s hoping to sell out of the cans by Saturday afternoon.
“This is kind of our trial run to see how it goes,” he said.