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Nine Big Beer Events in Chicago This Spring

Rare ales, hoppin’ parties, and an honest-to-God circus: Here’s where to get as much beer as you can drink in the next four weeks.

More beer, please.   Photo: Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune

In case this past winter wiped from your memory the beauty of sipping a beer on a warm day, let us remind you: Chicago is host to a truly inspiring number of beer festivals. (Possibly too many.

Now, with the snow melted, April and May have brought forth the city’s beer deluge. In hopes of keeping your thirst quenched well into summer, here are our picks for nine fine fests coming up fast:

Taketh Me Down to Local Option

To celebrate 3 Floyd’s annual Dark Lord Day in Indiana on April 26, The Local Option will tap 31 "devastating” brews for Midwestern beer geeks en route to the festivities. Among them: The incredibly rare/potent Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.

WHEN: Friday, April 25 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: The Local Option, 1102 W. Webster.
DRINK THIS: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.
HOW MUCH: Free to attend. Beers from $6.

Delilah’s Barrel-Aged Beer Fest

In case you miss the aforementioned v. rare Founders KBS at Local Option, Delilah’s will tap a cask of the stuff two days later at their Barrel-Aged Beer Fest. Other whiskey-tinged rarities include Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine aged in Scotch barrels and multiple vintages of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout.

WHEN: Sunday, April 27 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Delilah’s, 2771 N. Lincoln.
DRINK THIS: JW Lees Harvest Ale aged in Lagavulin Scotch barrels.
HOW MUCH: Free to attend. $20 for 20 samples.

Fadó Irish Pub Craft Beer Fest

By billing their second-ever craft fest as a private event (nobody without a ticket gets in) Fadó Irish Pub dodges Illinois’s much-maligned Happy Hour Law, which prohibits serving unlimited drinks for a fixed price over a set period of time. Thusly, a $30 advanced ticket grants you unlimited four-ounce beer samples between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., plus live music and your choice of bratwurst, chicken fingers, or mini-burgers. Sweet.

WHEN: Saturday, May 3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE: Fadó Irish Pub, 100 W. Grand.
DRINK THIS: Anything by Scottish brewery BrewDog.
HOW MUCH: $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Tickets available here.

American Beer Classic at Soldier Field

The gargantuan American Beer Classic might not be a craft fest-proper (they’ll serve Big 4 brews Blue Moon, Crispin, and Leinenkugel), but it takes a nonpartisan beer policy to build the menu they do: Last year, 8,000 guests enjoyed more than 500 beers on the Bears’s AstroTurf, and this year is shaping up to be just as stacked.

WHERE: Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus.
WHEN: Saturday, May 10 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Session 1) and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Session 2).
DRINK THIS: Middle Brow’s brand spankin’ new Life Pursuit.
HOW MUCH: $65 general admission gets you 48 two-ounce samples (eight 12-ounce beers at about $8 each). $90 VIP tickets get you 60 samples (10 beers at $9 each) plus early admission, a fancy tasting cup, and priority access to educational sessions (still unannounced). Tickets available here.

Brooklyn Brewery Mash

Brooklyn Brewery’s touring beer and culture fest features everything from live music to pop-up dining (and, of course, several beer-centric events). Some highlights: Stand-up comedy from Josh Gondelman and Chicago-émigré Beth Stelling, a found footage festival at the Music Box, and a beer brunch from Brooklyn Brewery and the Longman & Eagle crew. Full schedule here.

WHERE: Multiple venues.
WHEN: April 26 to May 3.
DRINK THIS: Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve Hammarby Syndrome (available at The Owl on April 26).
HOW MUCH: Prices vary by event. Full schedule here.

Beer Under Glass (Chicago Craft Beer Week kickoff)

Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 15-25) features more than 50 special events, but its commencement gala is annually the highlight. Though this year’s menu hasn’t been announced, sponsors include Big Star, PorkChop, and Wishbone—so you’ll be eating well. General admission has already sold out, but more than 200 VIP passes remain.

WHERE: Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park.
WHEN: Thursday, May 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
DRINK THIS: DryHop Shark Meets Hipster.
HOW MUCH: $90-115 for unlimited beer, small plates, and a souvenir glass and t-shirt (all proceeds benefit Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and Garfield Park Conservatory). Tickets available here.

Drinking & Writing Theater’s Beerfly Alleyfight

The idea behind Drinking & Writing Theater’s Beerfly Alleyfight is home-brewed beer paired with home-cooked food and homegrown art. Which, in years past, has looked like a whole lot of drinking.

WHERE: Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph.
WHEN: Saturday, May 17 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
DRINK THIS: Angry Birds Belgian Rye IPA.
HOW MUCH: $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Tickets available here.

Lagunitas Beer Circus

We’ve given up guessing when Lagunitas Chicago will officially open its doors, but the Californian brewmasters will give guests a peek inside during their inaugural Beer Circus (last year’s West-coast iteration featured contortionists, a giant teeter-totter, and a foot-powered Ferris wheel).

WHERE: Lagunitas Chicago, 1843 S. Washtenaw.
WHEN: May 17 and 18 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
DRINK THIS: Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’.
HOW MUCH: $40 gets you four drinks and limitless entertainment (partial proceeds go to Rock for Kids). Tickets available here.

West Loop Craft Beer Fest (Chicago Craft Beer Week wrap-up)

A big, fat block party. Get out there and drink at it.

WHEN: Saturday, May 24 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (VIP ticket holders admitted at noon).
WHERE: Clinton Street between Lake and Washington.
DRINK THIS: Begyle Imperial Pajamas.
HOW MUCH: Ticket price TBA on CCBW’s website.

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