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Photograph: PDET Photography

The best Chicago beer festivals

Try out new brews and meet the people who made 'em at our favorite Chicago beer festivals

By Emma Krupp and Zach Long
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Over the past decade, Chicago has emerged as the craft beer capital of the country. Don't believe us? According to the Brewers Association, our fair city is home to more than 150 breweries, more than any other metro area in the U.S. There's no better way to sort through the bunch than at the best Chicago beer festivals, where Chicago breweries and national purveyors sample their latest creations, hand out swag and field your tipsy questions. After an afternoon at a Chicago beer festival spent sampling lagers, sours and ales, you'll know exactly what to ask for when you sit down at a neighborhood dive bar or a Chicago beer garden, and you may even find a new favorite brew. Sip a barrel-aged stout or a funky cider (and meet the folks that made 'em) at some of the best Chicago beer festivals.

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The best Chicago beer festivals

Lincoln Park Zoo lemur
Photograph: Chris Bijalba/Lincoln Park Zoo.

Craft Brews at the Zoo

Things to do Festivals Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park

Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for this after-hours tasting event, featuring beers, food pairings, live DJs and prime views of the venue's animal residents. This year, attendees can choose from two evening sessions, each offering more than 150 craft beers to taste. If you've ever wanted to drink a beer within eyeshot of a lemur or rhinoceros, this is the place to make your dreams come true.

Photograph: Ravenswood On Tap

Ravenswood On Tap

Things to do Festivals Ravenswood and Berteau Aves, Lake View

The stretch of Ravenswood Avenue that's dubbed "Malt Row" hosts this annual festival, which features drinks provided by the neighborhood's diverse craft brewing scene. The two-day event spotlights beers from Half Acre, Band of Bohemia, Spiteful, Empirical, Begyle and more, plus cocktails from KOVAL Distillery, cider from the Northman and special guest breweries each day. Proceeds from On Tap support the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, Ravenswood Community Council and other local nonprofit organizations.

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Morton Arboretum
Photograph: Courtesy Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum Craft Beer Festival

Things to do Festivals Morton Arboretum, Suburbs

Drink among the trees at Morton Arboretum's sixth-annual craft beer festival, which brings dozens of local breweries together under the sun (or rain: the festival runs regardless of weather). Attendees are invited to bring a chair or blanket and enjoy beer and the lush natural surroundings of the arboretum. 

Photograph: Courtesy Lou Dog Events

Chicago Ale Fest

Things to do Festivals Sheffield Ave. between Webster & Fullerton,

For the first time, the summer edition of this biannual boozy event is headed to the Sheffield Street Festival—that means in addition to Chicago Ale Fest's selection of more than 100 brews to sample, food trucks and live music, you'll also have access to the sprawling Lincoln Park street fest. 

The best brewery tours in Chicago

Lagunitas in Douglas Park is one of the many Chicago breweries to offer tours.
Photograph: Martha Williams

The best brewery tours in Chicago

Bars

Chicago loves beer, whether it's spending a night at a great beer bar or picking up a six-pack of a local brew to take to a party. 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.

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