Boasting a new name and an expanded scope, Illinois Craft Beer Week officially launches in Chicago on Friday, May 18, packing bars, breweries and taprooms with new brews to sample. With more than 100 official and unofficial events spanning the city, diving into the ICBW festivities can be intimidating, especially if you're not familiar with the participating breweries. We've sifted through the calendar and selected one essential event to attend on every day of ICBW, so you can spend more drinking delicious beers.
Wednesday, May 16
Pipeworks Recurring Pipedream Pop-up Bar at Emporium Logan Square, 6pm–2am
There's absolutely nothing wrong with starting your Craft Beer Week celebration two days early amid the unicorns, rainbows and crashed UFOs that adorn the latest Pipeworks pop-up bar. You'll find favorites like Ninja vs. Unicorn, new releases and a few rarities on tap. Drink up before the temporary installment comes to an end on Sunday, May 20.
Thursday, May 17
Trek to the Waterfall at Sleeping Village, 7pm
On the night before ICBW officially begins, Avondale's newest bar kicks off the festivities with a tap takeover featuring beer from Half Acre, On Tour and Hopewell. Stick around to catch free performances from the Bombats, American Cosmonaut and Ganser in the bar's music venue.
Friday, May 18
Beer Under Glass at Garfield Park Conservatory, 5–9pm
ICBW gets underway at this annual party inside the Garfield Park Conservatory, where more than 100 breweries pour glasses for you to sample amid the foliage. Just remember to pace yourself—you've still got an entire of week of great beer to look forward to. Tickets are $60.
Saturday, May 19
Ultra Fresh at Right Way Signs, 5–9pm
If you like crisp, fresh beer, you've come to the right place—there won't be a single brew on tap at this event that's more than five days old. Attendees gather in the parking lot outside of Right Way Signs in Bucktown to sample ales from more than 20 local brewers, including Marz, Dovetail, Noon Whistle and more. Tickets are $45.
Sunday, May 20
Sour Beer Fest at Delilah's, noon–5pm
Whether you're a longtime fan of spontaneously fermented Belgian Lambic beers or have only recently discovered them, you'll be able to taste some rare ones here. During the event, Delilah's bars are lined with bottles and corresponding ticket values—guests can trade their tickets (20 for $20) for a taste, choosing from a selection of Gueuzes, Lambics, Faros and American sours.
Monday, May 21
A Battle of Bizzare Brews at Firehouse Grill, Evanston, 7pm
Oddity-obsessed website Atlas Obscura hosts a beer dinner in Evanston's Firehouse Grill, where Sketchbook, Temperance, Alarmist and Begyle will showcase some of their strangest creations. Throughout the five-course meal, brewers will talk about Chicago's craft beer industry and attempt to justify the weird flavors they've come up with. Tickets are $50.
Tuesday, May 22
Beer-B-Q with Smoque at Old Irving Brewing, 6–9pm
Smoque BBQ executive chef Barry Sorkin brings his meat expertise to Old Irving Brewing for an evening, cooking up a menu of dishes that pair with the brewery's beers. At this point during ICBW, you probably need to feed a hangover with some tender smoked brisket.
Wednesday, May 23
2nd Annual New England IPA Tap Takeover at Forbidden Root, 5–10pm
Can't get enough of the New England-style haze? Forbidden Root is putting juicy, hop-filled beer on all 16 of it's taps during this annual takeover devoted to the IPA style, which includes the debut of two new collaborations with Corridor Brewery.
Thursday, May 24
NW Side Craft Beer Ride at Lake Effect Brewing, Eris, Old Irving and more, 6pm–midnight
Travel between Lake Effect, Old Irving Brewing, Eris Cider, Fischman Public House, Hops and Barley, Tipsy Cow, The Garage and Rabbit on one of three buses, taking a self-guided tour of some of the best breweries and bars on the city's far North West Side. A $20 ticket gets you a seat on the bus, but you'll have to pay for your own beer.
Friday, May 25
Good Libations Beer Fest at Theatre on the Lake, 6–9pm
Mark the end of ICBW at the official closing event, which features 60 breweries serving tropical-inspired beers. In addition to samples of all the brews, guests will also enjoy food from Chicago chef Cleetus Friedman. Don't forget to wear a Hawaiian shirt. Tickets are $60.