It’s been more than three weeks since flames destroyed Twisted Hippo, an Albany Park craft brewery beloved by its neighborhood, a welcoming place for families and friends that invited people from all walks of life.
The community had been central to the brewery’s mission since it opened in 2019, bringing much-needed stability to a space that had turned into a revolving door for failing breweries. Commitment to the neighborhood helped Twisted Hippo thrive, and the way Marilee and Karl Rutherford conducted their business was something other brewers noticed and admired.
Parts of the kitchen are the only items that survived the Feb. 21 fire, said Michelle Foik, co-owner of Eris Brewery and Cider House. She stayed in touch with the Twisted Hippo property. It was only this week that they were allowed to return to the site to collect anything that might still be of value.
This past weekend, Foik attended the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild’s annual convention in upstate Bloomington. The future of Twisted Hippo was a talking point for many brewers, prompting a group to hold a fundraiser to be held Monday, March 21 at Eris in Old Irving Park. So far, more than 40 breweries have signed up to participate in Stronger Together Benefit Beer Fest. The plan is to host the festival outdoors in Eris’ parking lot. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, they’ll move indoors, Foik says. Barry Sorkin of Smoque BBQ is participating and will be donating smoked meats. The money will benefit Twisted Hippo workers.
“We had to find a way to donate money for the cause,” says Foik.
Foils says Jim Moorehouse (Aleman Brewing), Trevor Rose-Hamblin (Old Irving Brewing) and Clint Bautz (Lake Effect Brewing) were among those who helped organize the event. Sysco and US Foods are also sponsoring the event. They will have 16 beers on tap at a time, and when a barrel is kicked, it will be replaced with another brew waiting on deck. Foik says they have sold 100 of the 350 tickets for the event and are hoping for a big boost this weekend.
Tickets are $75 and are available through Tock. The festival will take place from 5-8 p.m. on Monday, March 21 at Eris, 4240 W. Irving Park Road.
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