As much as 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
Tinley Park's 350 Brewing Company celebrates its two year anniversary with a festival at the Tinley Park Convention Center, where it will join forces with a stacked lineup of local brewers. The event also draws upon the founders' roots in the Midwest punk scene, tapping Bayside and MXPX as musical guests.Read more
One of the city's largest beer festivals enters its fifth year, inviting beer lovers to the Aragon Ballroom for three sessions of tasting. This year's edition of Beer Hoptacular boasts 150 beers from more than 60 brewers, a BeerHop pinewood derby race and expanded food offerings from local eateries.Read more
The Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (not to be confused with the Barrel Aged Beer Festival or the Chicago Beer Festival) features more than 90 breweries, 300 beers and the 2016 National Wood-Aged Beer Competition. It's the largest celebration of barrel-aged beers in the country and, let's face it, an excuse for us beer lovers to sample our little hearts out. There will be multiple sessions held over two days. Ticket price includes 15 beer tastings.Read more
Declare your independence from corporate, mass-produced beer at this Irving Park festival, which features brews by the likes of Firestone Walker, New Belgium and more. It all happens in Independence Park, just a few blocks away from one of our favorite barbecue joints in town.Read more
The gigantic Lagunitas in Douglas Park hosts its third annual Beer Circus, inviting guests to take in live music and sideshow acts while enjoying plenty of beer (most of which was brewed in Chicago). Admission includes a souvenir and your first pour of beer, with all proceeds benefitting local non-profit PAWS.Read more
With the opening of Vice District, Motor Row and Baderbräu, the South Loop is quickly becoming a popular destination for craft beer lovers. The Motor Row Craft Beer & Wine Festival seeks to capitalize on this trend, sampling beverages from a selection of Midwest breweries and wineries in the historic South Side district. Admission is free, but a tasting session each day offers 15 samples for $35.Read more
Greet autumn with a stein full of beer in one hand and a giant pretzel in the other. The annual festival takes place outside of the St. Alphonsus Church and features plenty of brews (including craft beer tasting sessions) as well as activities and entertainment for kids and families.Read more
The best brewery tours in Chicago
There are dozens of breweries in the area, and many offer tours, which range from a booze-fueled, hours-long lesson on beermaking to quick and dirty 20-minute overviews. We tagged along on local brewery tours, where we learned a few things about brewing and drank more than a few pints of great local beer.