Chicago's best beer festivals

Hops, malts and good times await you at these top craft brew festivals

Photograph: Michael Jarecki

As much a we love our neighborhood bars, beer festivals offer the opportunity to try new things with a group of likeminded drinkers, whether you're a beer nerd or a casual craft brew fan. As the industry continues to explode, the number of festivals bringing together regional and national brewers has also increased. We took a look at all of the beer-related events happening in Chicago this summer and put together a list of our top picks. If you want to thank us, you can buy us a beer.

Lagunitas Beer Circus

Critics' pick

Now that Lagunitas' hoppy concoctions are officially being brewed in Chicago, it's time to celebrate. The California craft brewery (founded by a Chicago native) is bringing one its time-honored traditions to its new digs in Pilsen: the Beer Circus. The two-day event will assemble local performers like Vau de Vire Society, Redmoon and Mucca Pazza; beer from Ale Syndicate, Begyle and Finch’s; and food trucks such as Tamale Spaceship, Chicago Patty Wagon and the Fat Shallot.

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Lagunitas Brewing Company

West Loop Craft Beer Fest

Critics' pick

Chicago Craft Beer Week comes to an end at this West Loop blow out, which gathers a long list of local brewers for one more tasting event. Anyone who isn't hungover from the previous week's festivities can sample some beers, munch on food from Chicago French Market Vendors or take in some of the local entertainment.

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Chicago French Market

Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Tour

Don't get us wrong, there's a ton of great beer produced in Illinois. But if we're being honest, we're a just a little bit jealous of Wisconsin. Thankfully, there's a beer (and cheese!) festival that brings the best of the best of the Badger state to Aurora and Wheaton. Attendees will be able to sample beers from breweries such as 3 Sheeps, Big Bay and Potosi.

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Clips Beer & Film Tour

Critics' pick

New Belgium Brewing's annual traveling short film festival rolls through Eckhart Park, where 20 shorts selected through an online competition will be shown on an inflatable screen. Refreshments will include beer provided by New Belgium and food from the Slide Ride, Tamale Spaceship and 5411 Empanadas, with proceeds benefiting the Recyclery Collective and Alliance for the Great Lakes.

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Eckhart Park Free

Kegs for Kidneys

Critics' pick

Put your liver to work at this fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, which features samples of rare brews from the likes of 3 Floyds, Goose Island, Dogfish Head and Bell's. A ticket gets you a tasting glass and the opportunity to enter a rare bottle raffle and silent auction.

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Fischman Liquors and Tavern

Lombard Ale Fest

Lombard's first craft beer festival showcases more than 80 seasonal beers from breweries across the country, including Ommegang, Firestone Walker and Stone Brewing Co. Thirsty attendees will gather in the downtown Lombard Metra station to sample brews and wash down savory dishes from Chicagoland food trucks.

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Lombard Metra Station

Two Brothers Summer Festival

Critics' pick

Every summer, the Two Brothers Brewing Company puts together a weekend full of beer and music at its Aurora Roundhouse, conveniently located directly off of the Aurora Metra stop. This year's festivities include sets by Justin Townes Earle, Los Lobos and the Autumn Defense in addition to a plethora of locally-brewed beers. All proceeds benefit charities like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, so you can feel good about drinking one more beer.

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Two Brothers Roundhouse

Wicker Park Bucktown Tap Beer Festival

Critics' pick

The second annual Tap beer festival features brews curated by 17 Wicker Park and Bucktown bars, including Fatpour, Map Room and Piece. Each ticket includes 10 six-ounce tastings, a commemorative glass and paired food samples.

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Chop Shop

Tour de Fat

Critics' pick

Ft. Collins’ New Belgium Brewery brings its signature celebration of bikes and beer to Palmer Square for another year of freaky fun. The day begins with a bike parade and continues with vaudeville acts, circus performers and live music in Palmer Park. The environmentally conscious festival raises funds for local non-profits and culminates with one lucky attendee trading his or her car in for a brand new bicycle.

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Palmer Square Park Free

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