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State

Mamma Mia Pizza Beer

CAMPTON HILLS (AP) - Tom Seefurth has managed to bring together two of the Chicago area's best-loved items, pizza and beer, into one glass. Seefurth, of Campton Township, was home one day last fall brewing beer and threw in some tomatoes, oregano, garlic and basil. He stumbled onto pizza-flavored beer, which is turning into a successful business venture. In May, he reached an agreement with Walter Payton's Roundhouse in Aurora to serve Mamma Mia Pizza Beer there until the supply runs out. "With the real estate business as slow as it's been, we need something to supplement the income," said Seefurth, a real estate broker. His beer already has won two local home-brewing awards and landed him on a New York food television show. Seefurth sees pizza beer as a culinary beer, which like fine wine, is meant to be paired with different types of food. Yet, he often feels the need to explain his vision to skeptics, even going as far as posting responses online to derisive bloggers. "People thought we took a bottle of beer and shoved a piece of pizza in it," he said. The pizza beer is served in a 10-ounce wine glass for $4 and tastes of oregano, onions and tomatoes. It is meant to be enjoyed with pizza and pasta. Seefurth began home-brewing beer in 1998, when his mother-in-law gave him a kit for his birthday. He has experimented with unusual flavors such as oatmeal-raisin cookie and salsa. Seefurth worked with Mike Rybinski, the award-winning brewmaster at Walter Payton's Roundhouse. Seefurth gave Rybinski a sample after they judged a home-brewing contest together. Rybinski has brewed beer with things like chocolate and stones in the past and immediately was intrigued by the unusual taste. "We can describe it all day, but a taste is worth a thousand words," Rybinski said. According to Scott Ascher, owner of the Roundhouse, the pizza beer is the second most expensive ever brewed there. While not as popular as house favorite Payton Pilsner, which sells about 1,500 glasses a week, the pizza beer, which sells about 100 glasses, is the most sampled beer. Patrons' reactions were mixed. Chuck and Mary Moon of Aurora had the pizza beer in a sampler and said they liked it a lot. "It's like you spilled beer on your pizza and took a bite," Mary Moon said approvingly. Her husband liked it so much he ordered a glass to have with his pizza. Kara Marshall of Montgomery and her three friends disagreed. "It was gross," she said. "It was nasty. I would never pay for that." Despite the misgivings of some people and the amount of work involved with brewing on a large scale, Seefurth is optimistic about the beer's future. "We said, let's go ahead and put all our cards on the table because we need to hit a home run with this thing," he said.

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