Inside One of the Wildest Bottle Shares in the Country

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While most people were trick-or-treating this past Halloween, beer geeks from Ohio, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Chicago dug deep into their cellars, bringing hundreds of rare and uncommon sour and wild beers to share at the 4th annual Infected Chimipalooza. The oddly named event is one of the largest private tastings in the Midwest, bringing together nearly 100 attendees, and featuring a jaw-dropping beer list that includes bottles of vintage Cantillon as its capstone.

Infected Chimipalooza is the brainchild of Eddi “Chimi” Anderson, a veteran of the beer industry and an outspoken advocate for connecting and sharing between craft beer drinkers. Anderson, who cultivates friendships like he collects bottles, has a long history within the craft world, doing stints at Woodchuck Cider, Goose Island, Deschutes, Craft Beer Alliance (Widmer, Redhook, and Kona), Warped Wing, and now Upland Brewing Company.

The Infected Chimipalooza is held at Anderson’s farm in Washington Court House, Ohio, but has its roots in Nashville, TN. Anderson had been working for Goose Island in late 2011, when he delivered beers for the inaugural 12 South Winter Warmer. He made friends at that event.

“I wanted to get to know more ‘like-minded’ beer drinkers around Nashville and thought a ‘bottle share’ was a great way to make that happen,” he explains. “I booked a neighborhood clubhouse [the following June] and through some networking we got about 60 people to show up with food and beer to share with each other. We had brewers, brewery reps, wholesaler reps, retailers and consumers in attendance.”

It was the camaraderie that Anderson remembers most vividly.

“The day was tremendous at bringing many people from different backgrounds together for a common goal of enjoying one of the finer things in life. We shared many amazing beers. For some people, this provided the only opportunity they had to try certain beers.”

That feeling led Anderson to establish the Nashville event annually. “It was amazing to get so many thankful messages after the event. So, of course, I wanted to replicate that day. From that point forward we have gathered in a different spot every year in Nashville. Cool Springs Brewery, Craft Brewed and Bearded Iris have played host. Next year we will be at BriarScratch Brewing and at Mantra Artisan Ales the following year.” He also added food, calling on Trace Scarborough of Thunderbird Wings, who now caters the events.

While the Nashville event focuses on rare and interesting beers of any stripe, Anderson is a sour guy at heart. His love of all beers wild led him to start a second event, the Infected Chimipalooza, where Anderson explains that the beers are all “infected, either purposely or accidently using ‘wild’ yeast strains and bacteria such as Brett, Pedio, Lacto and more.” His farm is a fitting setting for the event—Anderson is in the process of establishing a farmhouse brewery on the site with an emphasis on spontaneous fermentation. (Look for the brewery, Maple Hill Farms, in 2016).

One would think that starting a brewery would take up most of Anderson’s time, but he’s hard a work promoting the next Chimipalooza production.

“Starting in June of next year, we will have our first bi-annual Belgium Chimipalooza on a farm outside Bruges,” Anderson explains. “A great friend and great beer guy, Bart Vanpouke, is hosting next year’s event.” Want to go? The events are public, but you have to know Anderson, or someone who knows Anderson, to attend. Given his presence in the beer world, though, that’s not too difficult a feat.