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An unlikely collaboration yields boozy results

November 12, 2012|By Zara Husaini @zarhus

The people at Shedd Aquarium spend their time doing good for the environment.  Now they’re branching out and doing something that is – in the words of Manager of Horticultural Programs Christine Nye – “great for the senses.”

Nye has been the owner of a set of hops for five years, but this year, those hops will become an American Pale Ale, which just happens to be Nye’s favorite kind of beer.   Nye originally hid the hops, opting to plant them inside planters but the hops weren’t having it.  It wasn’t until she moved the hops to an outdoor location that they began to “produce like crazy.” 

Nye’s coworkers suggested that she make a beer out of the hops – she initially brushed off the idea but reconsidered when another Shedd Aquarium employee came up with the idea of partnering with a brewery.  “I’ve never done it,” Nye said of brewing beer.  “My son does it.”

“Different hops produce different flavors,” Nye said.  These particular hops will make "Penguin Hops," a harvest ale.  The beer will launch just in time for the holiday season, thoguh Nye said that it's built for all seasons. 

After getting the Shedd Aquarium distribution team’s approval, Nye struck up a partnership with Revolution Brewing.  “I grow the hops, the do the deals,” she said.

An aquarium’s decision to create a beer may seem unconventional, but to Nye it makes perfect sense.   “It brings attention to (Shedd Aquarium,)” Nye said of the beer.   According to Nye, Shedd Aquarium is all about conservation of resources  and the late November/early December arrival of the beer will only alert people to the Aquarium’s efforts.  True to Shedd Aquarium's mission, the hops were sustainably grown. 

The hops play a double role – they beautify the aquarium’s grounds and they go to make a delicious beer.   

Nye says the beer will be available at Shedd Aquarium, Revolution Brewingand possibly Whole Foods.  She hopes to continue collaborating with the brewery.  “They’ve been so generous with their time,” she said. 

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