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What to drink at MusicFest

July 24, 2016 GMT

Merchant Street MusicFest is coming up fast, so I wanted to run down for you what you need to check out while you are there.

Kankakee’s premier music and arts festival downtown is a celebration of local musicians, artists, food, kids’ activities and, of course, beer.

Merchant Street MusicFest is July 29-30 outdoors at the beautiful Kankakee Depot. The main focus of MusicFest is, obviously, the music. Organizers are bringing in national acts such as Shining Star on the 29th and Coolio on the 30th. But don’t forget about some of the great local acts that will be showcasing their talents during the rest of the fest. Look for local acts such as Vaudevileins and Rival Points.

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I caught up with friend of the column John Doolin, of Blue Ribbon Products, to talk about his involvement with MusicFest.

“Blue Ribbon products has been family owned for over 80 years,” Doolin said. Blue Ribbon Products is the exclusive distributor for Merchant Street MusicFest.

“I love the idea that we are helping bring a fantastic event to downtown Kankakee,” Doolin said. “Merchant Street MusicFest is our biggest event of the summer, and we have loved to watch it grow. We are very excited.”

So, in honor of Blue Ribbon helping to organize this awesome event, I have chosen one of my favorite offerings of theirs. They distribute Bell’s and Rogue Ales, as well as a number of other craft offerings here. They also bring us Westmalle, Rochefort and Orval, and you all know my deep and abiding love of Belgian beers, especially Trappist beers. So, I have chosen for you fine people a beer for the people: Old Tankard Ale, a beer I was introduced to at the Hoppy Pig in Bradley, where they always have it on tap.

But our hometown heroes, BrickStone, also will be present at MusicFest. They are bringing out APA and Forbidden Wheat, my other pick of the week. Stop by, grab a beer, and shake their hands for supporting our local art and artists. And for everything you need to know about MusicFest, including the line-up, art vendors, food, drink and more, go to merchantstreetmusicfest.com.

Beers of the Week

Name: Forbidden Wheat from BrickStone

ABV: 5.4 percent

IBUs: N/A

Style: Belgian-style Witbier

Notes: Beautiful blend of blood, sweet, and bitter orange with hint of coriander, delicious unfiltered wheat.

Would go well with: Blackened ahi tuna salad, Thai shrimp salad, or chili lime fish tacos from the brewpub.

Where to buy: Jewel, Berkot’s, Kroger, Liquor World, TJ Donlin’s and BrickStone brewpub, six-pack of 12-ounce cans for around $10.

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Name: Old Tankard Ale from Pabst

ABV: 5.8

IBUs: 35

Style: American Ale

Notes: “Well-balanced, sessionable craft brew with a rich copper color, creamy head, and full body taste with notes of fruit and malt.” According to the brewery.

Would go well with: A bit more complex than the Blue Ribbon, try something with mushrooms and an earthy, herbal roasted meat.

Where to buy: Not too many places. Always on tap at the Hoppy Pig, 16-ounce pours for $5, but also in cans at Jewel in Kankakee and Liquor World, four-pack of 16-ounce cans for $6.99.