Beer Culture Summit 2022
Charles Bethea, director of curatorial affairs at the Chicago History Museum (third from left), speaks at the 2022 Beer Culture Summit. Credit: Liz Garibay

CITYWIDE — Movies, history, social issues and brewing techniques all will be discussed over pints of suds during this year’s local Beer Culture Summit, running Wednesday through Saturday at various locations.

The nonprofit Chicago Brewseum will present the fifth annual edition of the summit, which features in-person events and virtual sessions.

“When I started to put together the Brewseum as a whole, I wanted to create a nonprofit organization that was part of the museum field, but I wanted it to be very different than any mainstream museum in the cultural landscape,” said museum founder Liz Garibay during a video chat from her home in Old Town.

Founded in 2016, the Chicago Brewseum does not have a brick-and-mortar location or a collection of artifacts. Instead, it partners with institutions to present events designed to be fun, educational, accessible and inclusive.

The opening-night event is a forum with Richard Fierro and his wife, Jessica Fierro, owners of Atrevida Beer Company in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Fierros will discuss the mass shooting they witnessed at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ club in November 2022. The event will take place 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.

The summit’s 18 virtual sessions cover a range of diverse topics, including “Beer and the Bible: Salvation, Damnation, and Resurrection” (3 p.m. Thursday) and “Bringing Culture to the Cup: A Discussion with the National Black Brewers Association” (4 p.m. Friday).

Funkytown Brewing cofounders
Funkytown co-founders Rich Bloomfield (left), Greg Williams and Zachary Day. Credit: Provided/Pilot Project

One local brewer who will be tuning in to the latter session is Rich Bloomfield, a Brewseum board member and CEO of Chicago’s Funkytown Brewery. Bloomfield founded Funkytown with two childhood friends from Oak Park, Greg Williams and Zachary Day. The trio brew their beer at the Pilot Project incubator, 2140 N. Milwaukee Ave.

“The Brewseum does a really good job of highlighting stories that people have never really heard,” Bloomfield said during a video chat from his home in Irving Park. “They help bring more inclusion to the industry by sharing different perspectives. And that’s what Funkytown tries to do.

“We try to introduce more Black people and more women and more underserved minority groups to craft beer by showing more inclusion and representation in our labels, in our tone and in our outreach efforts.”

Thursday night’s in-person event, “Suds on Screen,” will feature Garibay, podcaster Mark Caro and WBEZ’s Jason Marck, who will discuss Chicago bars that have appeared in films and TV shows. The event is 7 p.m. at the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse, 603 N. Sacramento Blvd. (Baby boomers can prepare their anecdotes about the 1986 film “About Last Night” and its famous scenes filmed at The Original Mother’s, 26 W. Division St.)

“Beer, Glass, and the Power to Heal” at 6:30 p.m. Friday will showcase the art of glassblowing and glass vessel shapes unique to the beer world. The event will take place at Firebird Community Arts, 2651 W. Lake St.

The glassblowing event also will shine a spotlight on preventing gun violence, the importance of mentoring and the Project FIRE program, which supports young people in Garfield Park. Attendees can sign up to create their own glass, with the assistance of a glassblowing instructor, of course.

“Beer is connected to people of all backgrounds, all socioeconomic levels,” Garibay said. “One of the great things I love about tavern culture is when you’re a regular, you’re sitting with other folks, you’re sharing stories, and you know about their lives. But outside of that bar, you might not hang out. It’s amazing — the connector that beer is. Because it’s been around for so long and it has touched so many different cultures, I think we can all personally connect to it, which in turn allows us to connect with one another.”

The Brewseum’s mission is rooted in the belief that beer is “a dynamic cultural force with the power to build community and the ability to influence change,” according to its website. Summit attendees will no doubt raise a glass or two to celebrate that concept.

“I want to bring people into the [Beer Culture Summit] to see what people enjoy, and just get a better understanding of how people feel about this subject, so we can grow it to where it needs to be,” Bloomfield said. “Chicago’s just an amazing beer city, and it still has more potential, if we reach out to more of the underserved groups out here.”

Tickets for Beer Culture Summit’s in-person events are $25, including the opening-night forum at the Chicago History Museum. All-day passes for the virtual sessions Thursday-Saturday are also $25. Tickets can be purchased online.

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