Gird your livers and pre-apologize to your significant others, beer fans—Chicago Craft Beer Week kicks off on Thursday. While we don’t have as many highly anticipated openings like Moody Tongue, Penrose and Off Color coming up, new operations pop up seemingly every week, and Chicago Craft Beer Week is a great way to get to know these newcomers. This year’s 11-day beer marathon features some favorite annual events and some new ones, too. These are the ones you can't miss.
Thursday, May 14
Beer Under Glass is like going to see a Springsteen show. You basically know what you’re going to get: a lot of hits mixed in with some fun rarities; it’s going to last a long time; and you're probably going to be exhausted at the end. It’ll be interesting to see how the Illinois Craft Beer Guild rebounds after last year’s event, which rainy weather turned into "Beer in the Mud." But you should still totally go. Garfield Park Conservatory, 5:30pm.
However, if you’re looking for something a little smaller, Beer Under Tin, with brewers and beers from Metropolitan Brewing and Off Color, is where you want to be, if only for the live taping of the city’s best beer Web series, Just Keep Tastin’. Paddy Long’s, 7pm.
Friday, May 15
For our money, the place to be Friday is Beauty and the Brews. You might be surprised to learn how many women are involved in making the beers you drink all summer. Fourteen of those beers will be on hand, as well as the women who make them. We’ll keep saying it until everyone has heard it: Beer is not just bearded dudes in plaid shirts anymore. Sedgwick Stop, 6–11pm.
Saturday, May 16
Beerfly Alleyfight pairs food, beers and performance in a mashup that can’t be matched until we get EL Ideas to do a beer dinner at Lagunitas while someone juggles and breathes fire. Haymarket, noon–5pm.
If you’ve got $150 burning a hole in your pocket, Hops on the Rooftop is your go-to. Beers from smaller breweries like Flesk, Noon Whistle, Imperial Oak and Around the Bend will be pouring while the Pirates take on the Cubs. 3700 Wrigley Rooftops (1027 N Waveland Ave), 2–7:30pm.
Sunday, May 17
Sunday Funday means many things to different people, but today it means one thing: dodgeball at Goose Island’s barrelhouse. Tickets are sold out, but if you got your paws on one, you can look forward to an insane list of some of Goose’s rarest beers, punctuated by the thump of a dodgeball against a brewer’s head.
Further afield, Funway in Batavia is hosting eight breweries including Penrose and Solemn Oath, along with pizza, laser tag, go-karts and more. If you can’t have fun here, you’re probably dead inside. Funway (1335 S River St, Batavia), noon–4pm.
For those without tickets in hand, head to Kaiser Tiger in the West Loop to help it celebrate its one-year anniversary with some bocce ball, polka music and St. Louis's Urban Chestnut beer. Kaiser Tiger, 4pm.
Monday, May 18
Craft Beer Week shouldn’t just be about drinking, it should also be about learning stuff while drinking. Spend your Monday night at Pints of Science, which features discussions from local science folks while you drink beer. They call it “TED Talks but with beer,” which forms a perfect circle overlap on our Venn Diagram of nerdy fun. If you miss it tonight, it continues through Wednesday. Beer Bistro North, 5:30–7:30pm.
Tuesday, May 19
I like to think that even if our GuysDrinkingBeer site weren’t organizing the event, I’d still recommend South of 80, but for sake of full disclosure, we have been setting this up for the past four years. As always, our focus is on beers and brewers from way Downstate and into St. Louis, as well. New attendees this year include Old Bakery Beer Company, brand new beers from Excel (who impressed us with their 2nd Anniversary porter at FOBAB), the farm-to-kettle foraged brews from Scratch as well as some Schlafly favorites. The Green Lady, 7pm–2am.
The Cicerone organization is hosting its second annual Brown Line Brews, featuring the beers from brewers around the El stops of Ravenswood and beyond. Are you a Certified Beer Server or Cicerone? First beer is on them. Long Room, 6–9pm.
Wednesday, May 20
The Apple Store in Lincoln Park probably seems like an odd place to hold a beer event, but not when it’s a presentation from Chicago beer guru Randy Mosher about his career in beer and brewing. Go listen to the man spin tales of a life writing about and designing for beer and breweries, then stop at Burger Bar across the street for a reliably solid lineup of beers. Apple Store, 6–7pm.
Those interested in a less cerebral event likely will be swayed by newcomer All Rise Brewing’s Medieval Beer Hall Feast, which features, as you may imagine, a ton of meat and beer. It's hard to argue with that. All Rise Brewing Company (235 N Ashland Ave), 6pm–2am.
Thursday, May 21
One of the best things about CCBW is getting to know more about neighborhood spots. The Northwest Side Craft Beer Ride is a solid way to pack in an evening of beer bars that may otherwise be a bit tough to get to, including Breakroom Brewery, Fischman’s Tavern, Lake Effect Brewery (which is pouring at Phoenix Bar) as well as smaller crafty outfits like Rabbit’s and the Montrose Saloon. It’s a self-guided, hop-on-hop-off bar crawl that's just $20 for transportation. Various locations, 6pm.
Another great option is the 3rd Annual Celebrating Women of Craft Beer event, organized by Hail to the Ale and featuring beers from Temperance, Rock Bottom, Motor Row, Rude Hippo and more. Riverview Tavern, 7–10pm.
Friday, May 22
We already told you to go to the Green Lady once this week, but you are definitely going to want to get back for a sour beer extravaganza. All the taps will be devoted to sour beers, featuring dozens of options including casks on the bar, bottles and cans. Why? Because it’s owner Melani Domingues’s birthday, and she loves sours, and she runs a bar, so she gets all the goddamn sours she wants. The Green Lady, 4pm.
Saturday, May 23
If you didn’t get to Beer Under Glass, head north for the official closing event, the Welles Park Craft Beer Festival. The Illinois Beer Guild plans to host closing fests around the city, and the previous ones were held in the West Loop. Considering the proximity of so many Ravenswood Corridor and other North Side breweries, the lineup here will be pretty excellent. The dozens and dozens of other participating Chicago-area breweries confirm it. (Expect heavier than normal stroller traffic than your usual beer event, though.) Welles Park (2333 W Sunnyside Ave), noon-5pm.
Sunday, May 24
Oh, you thought because there was an official closing event, that Craft Beer Week was over? Nope! Close it all out with a brewer’s brunch at Haymarket. Haymarket, 11am–2pm.
Then disregard everything you’ve learned, imbibed and enjoyed over the previous nine days with Thalia Hall’s Crap Beer Day. Featuring $1 macros, “bottle service” with 40-ounce High Life and honky tonk tunes, it's astonishing how much we’re looking forward to this one after the massive amounts of hops and malt we’ll have ingested already. Thalia Hall, 4pm.