What to do for Chicago Craft Beer Week


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Not to be confused with American Craft Beer Week—which started Monday and is actually confined to a single week—Chicago Craft Beer Week begins Thursday and continues for a week and a half. There's just too much to cram into seven days, it seems. Really, there are enough events to fill a month or two. Just take a look at the schedule—it's completely overwhelming. Each day features dozens of events, ranging from discounts to special tappings to all-out festivals. Several promising-sounding events are below, though this list isn't at all comprehensive. Unless otherwise noted, events are a la carte (as in, you buy whatever beer you're interested in) and don't have a cover charge. Not listed are two of the best-sounding events—Beer Under Glass at the Garfield Park Conservatory and Half Acre's 5th Anniversary Party—because they're sold out. Most bars haven't yet specified what they'll have on tap.

Thu 5/16
Tap This! Drink Local III (6 PM, Fischman Liquors & Tavern, 4780 N. Milwaukee): It doesn't have quite the lineup of Beer Under Glass, but with 16 local breweries, it's not bad—and there'll also be live music and food trucks.

Founders tapping at Northdown Taproom (5 PM, 3244 N. Lincoln) The list of Founders beers here is relatively brief—Doom, Bolt Cutter, KBS, Old Curmudgeon, Breakfast Stout, Pale Ale—but I'd go out of my way for even one of the first three on that list (though they range from 10 to 15 percent ABV, so good luck trying all three of them).

Fri 5/17
Regional Clusterfuck (tapping at 3 PM, Local Option, 1102 W. Webster): "Rare and highly sought after releases" from Dark Horse, Central Waters, Against the Grain, Perennial Artisan Ales, and, of course, the Local Option itself.

Sat 5/18
Chicago Beer Geeks Tap Takeover (4 PM, Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake, $10 cover): Release of the Chicago Beer Geeks/Wild Onion collaboration beer, Deception, plus unspecified "rare and limited" releases from Three Floyds, Revolution, Goose Island, and others. Burlesque and live music too.

Over the Influence: The Art of Beer (5-9 PM, Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan, $30): Work by artists and designers "inspired by the aesthetics of craft beer and how it intersects with food, culture, and society." Beverages—from Half Acre Beer, Solemn Oath Brewery, Spiteful Brewing , Journeyman Distillery, Maria’s Ginger Beer, and others—are included; Flesh for Food will be selling eats.

Solemn Oath One-Year Anniversary Party (6 PM, Bangers & Lace, 1670 W. Division): Sixteen Solemn Oath brews, 16 Port Brewing/Lost Abbey beers, and the release of Famine, a collaboration between the two breweries.

Sun 5/19
Goose Island's 25th Anniversary Block Party (Noon-3 PM, Goose Island Brewery, 1800 W. Fulton, $25): Virtue, Half Acre, Emmett's, and others will be on hand, but the real reason to attend this is to try the rare Goose Island offerings, including Gran Gas, Golden Goddess, and more than a half dozen Bourbon County Stout variations, among them Buffalo Trace, Templeton, Speyside, Coffee (Brazil, Columbia, and Kenya), Napa, and Rare.

Chicago's Bourbon Trail (1-6 PM, starts and ends at Fizz Bar & Grill, 3220 N. Lincoln, $25): A trolley takes participants to the Green Lady, the Map Room, the Fountainhead, and the Long Room, each of which will be offering a bourbon and a barrel-aged beer (alcohol isn't included in the ticket price).

Tue 5/21
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Tap Takeover (5 PM, Maple Tree Inn, 13301 S. Old Western): Six Goose Island drafts, including a few rare Bourbon County varieties: Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Baudoinia, Coffee Bourbon County Stout, Cherry Rye Bourbon County Stout, Night Stalker, and Big John. Tickets for the cherry rye will be given to the first 60 people in line (allowing you to buy a nine-ounce pour for $10), and $4 pints of Zombie Dust will be available "for good measure."

South of 80 2.0 (7 PM, the Green Lady, 3328 N. Lincoln): A follow-up to last year's South of 80, this meet-and-greet features representatives from five downstate or St. Louis-area breweries, many of which have never been available in Chicago before: Scratch Brewing Company (Ava, IL), Rolling Meadows Brewery (Cantrall, IL), Destihl (Bloomington, IL), Six Row Brewing Company (St. Louis, MO), Urban Chestnut (St. Louis, MO).

Wed 5/22
New Wave Brewer Showcase (7-10 PM, Mary's Attic, 5200 N. Clark, $20) Beer from local breweries that opened in the last year or are planning to open later this year, including Temperance, 4 Paws, Lake Effect, Spiteful, Flesk, Ale Syndicate, Begyle, and DryHop. Admission includes 20 tasting tickets, with more available for purchase.

Division Street IPA Crawl (6-11:45 PM): Small Bar Division (2049 W. Division) offers west coast IPAs, Jerry's Sandwiches (1938 W. Division) will have varieties from the midwest, and Bangers & Lace (1670 W. Division) will be tapping east coast IPAs. So far only Small Bar has announced a partial lineup, which includes Green Flash Black IPA, Ballast Point Sculpin, and a cask of a yet-to-be-determined Stone beer.

Thu 5/23
Celebrating the Real Women of Craft Beer (6:30 PM, Riverview Tavern, 1958 W. Roscoe): The women behind Goose Island, Two Brothers, Rock Bottom, Lagunitas, Metropolitan, Greenbush, and 4 Paws Brewery discuss craft brewing; there's also a screening of the documentary The Love of Beer, which explores the rise of women in the beer industry.

Andersonville Homebrew Competition (7-9:30 PM, Mary's Attic, 5200 N. Clark, $15 in advance, $20 at the door): There's no guarantee as far as quality goes, but this competition among nearly two dozen local homebrewers allows you to taste a lot of different beers for a pretty reasonable price and vote on your favorites.

Fri 5/24
Boomtown (7 PM, Jerry's, 1938 W. Division) Jerry's hosts several breweries that have opened their doors in the Chicago area in the past year: Begyle, Lake Effect, Spiteful, Ale Syndicate, Off Color, and Solemn Oath. Each will have at least one beer on tap, and many of the brewers will be on hand.

Sat 5/25
West Loop Craft Beer Fest (1-5 PM, VIP hour begins at noon, Clinton between Lake and Washington, 131 N. Clinton, $40, $65 VIP): This new outdoor festival offers tastings from more than 25 breweries, nearly all of them local or regional, and food from Chicago French Market vendors for purchase (there are free snacks and special pours of beer during VIP hour).

Sun 5/26
Lambic and Sour Beer Fest (noon-5 PM, Delilah's, 2771 N. Lincoln, $20): An annual Delilah's event, this festival features 60 lambics from breweries including Drie Fonteinen, Lindemans, Liefmans, Hanssens, Cherish, Chapeau, Mort Subite, St. Louis, Timmermans, Girardin, Belle Vue, Oud Beersel, Cantillon, and Boon, plus a few sour beers. Admission includes 20 tasting tickets.


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