The best Chicago beer festivals

Taste new suds and meet the brewers who made them at some of the top Chicago beer festivals, featuring craft ales, food and more

Lombard Ale Fest

As much a we love grabbing a drink at a local dive bar or perusing the selection at a liquor store, 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, these events take the experience of a brewery tour to the next level, allowing attendees to taste beers made by both regional and national brewers. Take a look at our list of the best Chicago beer festivals and start planning your next weekend of tastings. If you want to thank us, you can buy us a beer.

The best Chicago beer festivals

Barrel Aged Beer Fest

Critics' pick

Delilah's holds its annual celebration of beers aged in bourbon and scotch barrels. Available for tasting will be multiple vintages of dark, boozy brews from the likes of Goose Island, Founder's, Central Waters and more. The event is free to attend, but you'll have to pony up some cash if you want to taste the beverages.

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Delilah’s 12 Apr 2015

The Lager Beer Riot Fundraiser

Critics' pick

Reenact a key moment in Chicago beer history at the Pocket Guide to Hell and Marz Community Brewing Company's Lager Beer Riot. To celebrate the 160th anniversary of the riot, in which Irish and German bar owners revolted against local authorities, a dodgeball reenactment of the original riot will occur. There will also be delicious, delicious beer. The event is a fundraiser for Benton House, so drink and be merry for a good cause.

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Benton House Until Sun Apr 26

American Beer Classic

Enjoy the best of American beer and sample brews from the more than 30 participating breweries, including local standbys and national favorites, at this Solider Field beer festival. After sipping the 200 plus beers, you can be the judge for the event's best drink by downloading an app and voting for the MVB (Most Valuable Brew).

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Soldier Field Saturday May 9 2015

NW Side Craft Beer Ride

The third annual NW Craft Beer Ride invites attendees to explore some of the best bars and breweries located on Chicago Northwest Side. Participants will be able to take advantage of a "craft beer transit system" comprised of four buses which ferry thirsty patrons to each location on the tour. Pipeworks, Ale Syndicate, Finch's, Lake Effect and more Northwest Side brewers will be tapping beers at locations like Rabbits Bar and Grill, Sidekicks and Templestowe Pub.

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Various venues Thursday May 21 2015

Welles Park Craft Beer Fest

Critics' pick

Chicago Craft Beer Week moves its closing festivities from the West Loop to Lincoln Square for the inaugural Welles Park Craft Beer Fest. More than 60 breweries will be participating in the event, pouring samples for attendees during the four-hour event. If you find yourself in need of something to soak up the plentiful suds, fear not! Food vendors will be on hand to provide you with a snack.

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Welles Park Saturday May 23 2015

Kegs for Kidneys

Critics' pick

Put your liver to work at this two-day 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. On Saturday, performers from the Lagunitas Beer Circus will entertain guests.

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Fischman Liquors and Tavern Friday May 29 2015 - Saturday May 30 2015

Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Cruise

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 all the great brews that are made in Wisconsin. Thankfully, there's a beer (and cheese!) cruise that allows to you to taste great stuff made by our neighbors to the north. The three hour boat tour include beer from 3 Sheeps, Milwaukee Brewing Company and a smorgasbord of cheese and sausages.

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Navy Pier Saturday May 30 2015

Lagunitas Beer Circus

Critics' pick

After a successful first year, Lagunitas is bringing its Beer Circus back to its gigantic Douglas Park brewing facility. The event will assemble circus performers, live music, food trucks, carnival rides and plenty of beer for an afternoon of drunken fun that could make you reconsider your irrational fear of clowns.

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Lagunitas Brewing Company Saturday June 6 2015

Lombard Ale Fest

Critics' pick

Lombard's second annual craft beer festival showcases more than 100 seasonal beers from breweries across the country, including Central Waters, Lakefront Brewing 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 Saturday June 13 2015

Brew to Be Wild

Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for a night of craft beer, music and lawn games amid a menagerie of wild animals. The inaugural event will have over 75 specialty brews to sample from more than 35 local and regional breweries including Empirical and Noon Whistle. General admission is $49 and includes up to 20 three-ounce samples and a souvenir glass.

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Lincoln Park Zoo Saturday June 13 2015
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