The best Chicago beer festivals
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and Choose Chicago team up to curate another lineup of mini-beer fests this summer, taking place in neighborhoods throughout the city. Each end-of-the-week event welcomes a lineup of local breweries to sample their creations, accompanied by food and live music. Admission to all Friday Night Flights festivals is free, but you can buy a tasting pass (good for 10 three-ounce pours) in advance for $20, or for $25 at the gate.
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 120 craft beers to taste. If you've ever wanted to drink a beer within eyeshot of a rhinoceros, this is the place to make your dreams come true.
The stretch of Ravenswood Avenue that calls itself "Malt Row" hosts this annual festival, which features drinks provided by the neighborhood's diverse craft brewing scene. You'll find beer from Band of Bohemia, Begyle Brewing, Dovetail, Empirical, Half Acre and more, in addition to food from local restaurants and live music.
True to its name, you won’t drink a beer that was packaged more than one week before this expansive tasting event, organized by local craft brewing blog The Hop Review. Each ticket includes 20 tasting of fresh creations from the likes of Dovetail, Half Acre, Marz, Noon Whistle and more than 15 other breweries.
If the foamy, flat macro-brewed suds served in a plastic cup that most street festivals serve aren't your idea of a good time, head to Lakeview's celebration of craft beer. You'll find more than 70 local, regional and national craft beers from 35 brewers on offer at this event. Purchase tickets before making your way to the tasting area each day from 1 to 8pm—each ticket is good for one 3 ounce sample of beer.
Head to the South Loop for an afternoon of beer and cider samples served in Chicago Women's Park. featuring more than 100 beverages provided by some of the region's most popular breweries and cideries. The outdoor festival also welcomes a lineup of Chicago food trucks and live performances from local musicians. All proceeds from the festival will benefit Chicago Women's Park and Gardens.
Half Acre Beer Company throws its annual bash at its expansive Balmoral Brewery, welcoming guests into its taproom, production space and patio to enjoy drinks, music and more. This year's event will feature more than 60 beers, including wyld varieties, barrel-aged brews and some never-before-seen creations. Los Angeles psych rock outfit the Allah-Las, garage rockers the Cowboys and local quartet Skip Church provide the live soundtrack for the evening, accompanied by some interactive experiences and surprises. Tickets include a tasting glass, koozie and one food token that can be redeemed at the festival.
The Chicago outpost of Lagunitas Brewing Company throws a Beer Cicus in Douglas Park (the same place where Riot Fest is held), with more than 100 performers, two stages of live music, food trucks, games and more diversions. In addition to a menu that includes one-of-a-kind Lagunitas brews, you'll be able to take in burlesque, sideshow acts and aerialists.
The best brewery tours in Chicago
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.