It started as a prank between friends playing golf and drinking beer.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a golf tournament with different craft beers at each hole? And wouldn’t it be cool if it raised a lot of money for charity?
“Yeah, that would be cool – you should do that,” friends told AJ Sendra, who had never organized such a thing, doesn’t work in the beer industry and was unfamiliar with the world non-profit.
Now in her 5th year, Chicago brews back does just that – and this year it’s happening at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 5 at Deer Creek Golf Club in University Park.
With 30 breweries donating beer, there will indeed be different craft beers flowing down every hole. And last year, the event raised $20,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“I swore third year would be my last, but then I got a letter from a kid in Lurie saying how much that money had helped him and I realized this thing had gotten so much bigger. than me and I had to keep running with her,” Sendra said.
Dozens of volunteers and dozens of sponsors have helped it grow far beyond anyone’s expectations. Breweries from Geneva to Champaign, from Michigan to Indiana support him and for $130, you get tastings from all of them. That’s on top of 18 holes of golf, lunch at the turn, dinner by Double D Pig Roasts, a goodie bag, entry to a series of sweepstakes, and more.
It grew so big that Sendra named it “Chicago Brews Back” and hired lawyers to help it become an official nonprofit organization. He is also creating a website to complement their Facebook page, has formed an advisory board and is even exploring other fun ideas to raise money for even more charities. Evan Kordys is now their volunteer accountant, while Joe Steigerwald is the brewery liaison and Dan Schovain is in charge of food and beverage.
Sendra, who works in logistics and lives in New Lenox, has relied on word of mouth, supportive friends and breweries that have moved from wary eyes to enthusiastic beer and volunteer support. He also recognizes the opportunity this represents for breweries.
“For the breweries, what is unique about our event compared to a beer festival is that everyone is lining up for trendy releases, maybe they come to your table, can -be not,” he said. “But here, every golfer will go to the hole and taste their beers. It’s a fun day and it’s also an opportunity for these breweries to connect directly with their audience as they will also be at the tee box.
There are still a few places open to play and they are always looking for volunteers, who get all the benefits minus the golf. Sendra “won’t say no” to other sponsors. “If they call me that morning to donate, I’ll pick it up.”
Here’s who’s participating in this year’s event:
Seedz Brewery, Windmill Brewery, Sip & Burn Coquito, Four Fires Meadery, Howard Street Brewing, Saint Errant Brewing, Marz Community Brewing, Flipside Brewing, Foreign Local Brewery, Manic Meadery, Gnosis Brewing, Noon Whistle Brewing, Mikerphone Brewing, Old Irving Brewing , Solemn Oath Brewery, Dryhop Brewers, Corridor Brewery & Provisions, Crushed By Giants Brewing, Triptych Brewing, Art History Brewery, Second City Meadery, Illuminated Brew Works, On Tour Brewery, Haymarket Brewery, Revolution Brewing, Brothership Brewing, Midwest Coast Brewing, Pollyanna Brewing, More Brewing and CH Distillery/Jeppson’s Malort.
Need a little energy boost? Good news: Monster Energy will also be there, offering cold refreshments all day alongside the brewers.
No more guys drinking beer
30 Breweries. 18 Holes of Golf. An awesome “Chicago Brews Back” event.
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