'Hobson S'more' beer raising more funds for Naperville charities
Artists have been raising money for charities using the remnants of a former DuPage County tree for roughly a year and a half, and now brewers are taking another turn.
Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville is hosting a beer release party Friday, as the next event in a series of fundraisers featuring works created from the Hobson Oak, a bur oak that stood for roughly 250 years along Hobson Road near Greene Road between Naperville and Woodridge.
Events since August 2018 have raised $45,000 for nine charities in partnership with the Naperville Parks Foundation, which worked to salvage and distribute wood from the craggy old tree after DuPage County crews cut it down for road safety in fall 2016.
Proceeds have supported projects, including a partnership that provided 40 bicycles for use by Naperville North High School students -- some of whom never had ridden before, said Mary Lou Wehrli with the Naperville Parks Foundation.
"I think the story of it is something that's very powerful," Wehrli said about the oak. "It's just another way to remind the town how strong we are."
Friday's release party -- a free, public event set for 5 to 8 p.m. at Solemn Oath, 1661 Quincy Ave., suite 179, Naperville -- doesn't mark the first time breweries have gotten involved. Fans of Solemn Oath, as well as Darien craft breweries Miskatonic Brewing Company and Hop Butcher for the World, drank some of the fruit of the tree's demise last year, after Hobson Oak wood chips were used in the production process for Ole Knotty Pale Ale and Hobson Milk Stout.
And now all three breweries are back with another collaborative brew, this one called Hobson S'more Stout. The breweries describe it, in full craft beer-ese, as "an imperial milk stout with Madagascar vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, marshmallow, graham cracker and wood from the famed Hobson Oak."
John Barley of Solemn Oath said 70 cases will be available to drink on site Friday or take home in canned four-packs for $19.99. Hobson S'more is expected to be back next year, too, as Barley said most of the batch is aging in bourbon barrels until fall or winter 2020.
"It is a privilege to help tell the story and add to the legacy of the Hobson Oak," Barley said. "We work hard at making our brewery a positive contributor to our hometown."
Guests at Friday's beer release can help the cause by bidding on silent auction items, such as bowls, a vase, an ornament, a box and a pin. A Hobson Oak guitar fashioned by Patrick Jaromin of Jaromin Guitars and a cabinet by Don Lupa of Premier Architectural Millwork and 42 North Contractors will be auctioned live.
"The artists have poured their talents into pieces of wood in such creative ways," Wehrli said.
Certificates to pick up oak seedlings grown by the Morton Arboretum from the tree's acorns will be for sale for $100 each, with scheduled pickup during Arbor Day celebrations next spring. T-shirts, notecards and wood, for creative types who want to fashion their own keepsake, also will be available.
"What I like about it is that it really hearkens back to a Naperville of old and gives you a sense of community and connectedness," Naperville Parks Foundation board member Lisa Thomas said. "It's been very wonderful to witness that interconnectedness and the response to the outreach."