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Look, I know you want to get into swimsuit shape, but it's Chicago Craft Beer Week, and it's not going to drink itself. The 11-day festival kicks off today, running through May 26. There are dozens and dozens of events on the schedule, spread all over Chicagoland, from downtown to Elgin, Rosemont and Oak Park.
The complete schedule might be a little overwhelming. Turns out, people really love beer. Ancient humans brewed beer before they learned to make bread. Fortunately, food has caught up and many restaurants celebrate CCBW with pairings and tasting menus.
Below are five highlights.
Local, Two Ways at Owen & Engine Throughout the whole of CCBW, Owen & Engine is pairing five local suds with special dishes—soft-shelled crab with curried jicama slaw, chicken Galantine with local ramps, etc. Of course, you could and should get the Slagel Farm burger, too, one of the best in Chicago. Consider it a side. Why not? You're already imbibing pints of beer. That's not all. The space hosts Brewer & Butcher Night on May 19 at 6pm ($80), which offers amazing charcuterie and fresh bread. On May 26 at 6pm, O&E closes out the affair with Last Splash with Emmetts, as Emmetts Brewing brewmaster Ryan Clooney pops in. Owen & Engine. May 16 at 12pm through May 16 at 10pm.
Oskar Blues Night and Allagash Beer Brunch at Scofflaw The Logan Square bar has you covered for evening and morning drinking. First up, tonight, Scofflaw teams with the Rocking Horse to show off Oskar Blues brews on tap and in cans. A shuttle runs between the two watering holes. On Saturday 25, Allagash beers are paired with five courses. Kegs and eggs: not just for tailgating. Scofflaw. Oskar Blues night, May 16 at 5pm. Free admission; brunch, May 25 at 1pm. $75.
Solemn Oath 1 Year Anniversary Party at Bangers & Lace Solemn Oath brings 16 brews. Lost Abbey brings 16 brews. And you can witness the birth of a collaboration beer, Famine. Sounds more like a feast to us. Not enough? B&L also hosts a Perennial Artisan Ales Beer Dinner on May 20 at 7pm ($75). Bangers & Lace. May 18 at 6pm. Free.
Chicago's Bourbon Trail Why limit yourself to beer? Turn this into a greater celebration of mash. A trolley stops at five different bars (including Fountainhead, which is offering a bourbon flight) where you can nip bourbon and barrel-aged beer. Fizz Bar & Grill. May 19 at 1pm. $20.
West Loop Craft Beer Fest Sample over a dozen craft beers in the Ogilvie train station, from 5 Rabbit to Virtue Cider. Nosh on fare from the French Market's residents: Beaver's Coffee and Donuts, Saigon Sisters, Lillie's Q, etc. Chicago French Market. May 25, 12–5pm. $40–$65.