Chicago Zoo, Brewery to Release Beer Inspired by Red Fox’s Diet of Wild Berries

A red fox in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska (Katherine Belcher / U.S. National Park Service) A red fox in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska (Katherine Belcher / U.S. National Park Service)

Lincoln Park Zoo and Chicago’s DryHop Brewers are teaming up again in support of conservation, this time with a berry-intensive brew honoring the red fox. 

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Later this month, the brewery will release a fruited sour beer made with blueberries, inspired by the red fox’s diet of wild berries. The brew will be called Sour Patch Kits, a reference to both the beer’s light tartness and the term for a baby fox, or kit.

The beer will be tapped at 5 p.m. May 15 at DryHop’s brewery in Lakeview, 3155 N. Broadway, and available on draft and to-go in 32- and 64-ounce bottles. For each beer sold, DryHop will donate $1 to Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute, which launched in 2010 as a groundbreaking initiative to study animals and nature across the Chicago area.

Since 2016, the zoo has expanded the urban wildlife monitoring effort to 21 cities across North America, helping scientists compare populations and behaviors of city-dwelling creatures with the goal of building “wildlife-friendly cities” and mitigating human impact on animals like the red fox. 

Red foxes are found throughout Illinois but are most common in northern sections of the state, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

An outbreak of sarcoptic mange, a highly contagious skin disease, led to a significant reduction of the species’ population in Illinois in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

The species has not fully recovered because of an increase in the population of coyotes, which compete for food with and will often kill red foxes, according to IDNR. Despite this trend, red foxes are still common in the state – though less so in Chicago. 

“A red fox is a rare sight to see in Chicago, but they serve as a reminder we are constantly surrounded by wildlife,” said Urban Wildlife Institute Director Seth Magle in a statement. “Chicago is an amazing city that is home to little brown bats, flying squirrels, white-tailed deer, mink, beaver and of course, rat. Our studies enable us to better understand our ecosystem and how we can create environments where wildlife can thrive.”

DryHop began the two-day brewing process for the fruited sour by adding a lactobacillus blend from Chicago’s Omega Yeast to wort kept at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. (Wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process.)

The wort took 18 hours to reach the desired level of acidity, at which point DryHop brought the wort to a boil before adding hops and yeast.

At the end of the fermentation process for Sour Patch Kits, DryHop added blueberry purée to compliment the beer’s tartness. The final product also features flavors of lemon and citrus, according to the brewery.

This is the sixth straight year that DryHop and Lincoln Park Zoo have collaborated on a beer to support conservation efforts. Last year, DryHop released a dry-hopped India pale ale – its Hopped Hihi IPA – made with New Zealand hops inspired by one of the island country’s rarest birds.

The new Sour Patch Kits will be available for a limited period starting May 15 at DryHop. The brew will also be served at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual Zoo-ologie fundraiser on May 18.

Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp aruppenthal@wttw.com | (773) 509-5623


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