It started as a joke among pals golfing and drinking beer.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a golf tournament featuring different craft beers at every hole? And wouldn’t it be cool if it raised a bunch of money for charity?
“Yeah that would be cool – you should do that,” friends told A.J. Sendra, who had never organized such a thing, doesn’t work in the beer industry and was unfamiliar with the non-profit world.
Now in its 5th year, Chicago Brews Back is doing just that — and this year it happens at 9 A.M. Saturday, August 5 at Deer Creek Golf Club in University Park.
With 30 breweries donating beer, there will indeed be different craft beers pouring at every hole. And last year, the event raised $20,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“I swore the third year was gonna be the last, but then I got a letter from a kid at Lurie’s saying how much that money helped him out and I realized this thing has become way bigger than myself and I need to keep running with it,” Sendra said.
Dozens of volunteers and dozens of sponsors have helped it grow far beyond anyone’s expectations. Breweries from Geneva to Champaign, Michigan to Indiana are supporting it and for $130, you get tastings from them all. That’s in addition to 18 holes of golf, lunch at the turn, dinner by Double D Pig Roasts, a swag bag, entry into a series of raffles, and more.
It’s grown so much that Sendra branded it “Chicago Brews Back,” and has hired lawyers to help them become an official non-profit organization. He’s also creating a website to complement their Facebook page, formed an advisory board and is even exploring other fun ideas to raise money for even more charities. Evan Kordys now volunteers as their accountant, while Joe Steigerwald is the liaison to breweries 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 gone from giving a wary eye to enthusiastically providing beer and volunteer support. He recognizes the opportunity it presents to breweries, as well.
“For the breweries, what’s unique about our event compared to a beer festival is everyone there lines up for hype releases, maybe they come to your table, maybe they don’t,” he said. “But here, every golfer will go to the hole and try your beers. It’s a fun day and it’s also an opportunity for these breweries to connect with their audience directly because they’ll be at the tee box, too.”
There are still some spots open to play and they’re still seeking volunteers, who get all the perks minus the golf. Sendra also “won’t say no” to additional sponsors. “If they call me that morning to donate, I’ll drive over to pick it up.”
Here’s who’s participating in this year’s event:
Seedz Brewery, Windmill Brewing, 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 Brewing, Second City Meadery, Illuminated Brew Works, On Tour Brewing, Haymarket Brewery, Revolution Brewing, Brothership Brewing, Midwest Coast Brewing, Pollyanna Brewing, More Brewing and CH Distillery/Jeppson’s Malort.
Need a little boost of energy? Good news — Monster Energy will also be on hand, providing cold refreshments all day alongside the brewers.