Two Illinois breweries earned medals at the prestigious World Beer Cup last week in Minneapolis, and both are in Lake County.
Roaring Table Brewery in Lake Zurich won a bronze medal in the classic saison category for a beer named Beth, and Mickey Finn’s Brewery in Libertyville won a silver medal in the session IPA category for the beer Moon Rocks.
To say the competition was fierce would be an understatement. There were 103 beer categories this year, and 102 beers on average submitted in each category. The 2,493 breweries that competed hailed from 57 countries.
Lane Fearing, who co-owns Roaring Table with his wife, Beth May, said he was in a daze when he learned “Beth” had won a medal.
“We’ve been at this now for five years and our goal has always been to make a world-class beer,” Fearing said. “It can be lonely in the trenches working in the beer world, so to have people who are experts recognize we are making good beer is so gratifying.”
Brian Grano, the owner of Mickey Finn’s, said even though the brewery won a silver medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival — perhaps the only beer competition more prestigious than the World Beer Cup — he didn’t expect to win in Minneapolis.
“When they announced that Moon Rocks won silver I thought, ‘I can’t believe someone else used the same name as us,’ before I heard them say ‘Mickey Finn’s,'” Grano said.
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Grano bought Mickey Finn’s 18 years ago and said the two big awards in the last two years were the first in his tenure. Grano credited recently hired head brewer Jason Martens.
“We’re the oldest microbrewery in Illinois, and we can get disregarded because we’ve been around so long,” Grano said.
The brewery’s Great American Beer Festival win was for a rye beer called Dark and Down. Afterward, Dark and Down became one of the brewery’s bestsellers, Grano said. Moon Rocks isn’t currently available, but Martens likely will make it again soon.
“Everyone wants to try it after it wins,” Grano said.
Fearing said Roaring Table’s bronze medal plaque will go in a prominent location at the brewery.
“It’s our first and hopefully not the last time we do well in a competition,” Fearing said. “I’m already thinking about stuff to enter into the Great American Beer Fest this fall.”