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The 25 Best Bets for Chicago Craft Beer Week

You’ve really got to be a disciplined drinker to get the most out of Chicago Craft Beer Week’s overwhelming schedule. Here’s how to plan it out, pint by pint.

A beer you can drink very soon.   Photo: Adam Wolffbrandt/Chicago Tribune

Hello, and welcome back, 5th annual Chicago Craft Beer Week.

This city is about to spend eleven days packed with art, music, food, frisbee golf—and, of course, beer. So much beer. Kegs, barrels, flights, pints, even mason jars. 

Bars and restaurants all over the city are participating, and it’s impossible to experience everything Craft Beer Week has to offer. But worry not: we’ve crafted the itinerary. We’ve got all eleven days of ChiBeerWeek mapped out, from the can’t-miss drinking events to the more intriguing options (looking at you, Prehistoric Beer Prom) pulled from all corners of the craft beer world.

Here’s to a well-rounded experience that will leave you feeling well, and, maybe, more rounded.

Thursday, May 15

5:30 p.m.: Beer Under Glass at Garfield Park Conservatory

The proper kickoff to Chicago Craft Beer Week takes place amidst the foliage of the Garfield Park Conservatory, with over fifty breweries and restaurants promising small plates and sample pints. General admission tickets are already sold out, but VIP tickets, which get you into the conservatory an hour early, are still available.
5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Garfield Park Conservatory, 100 N Central Park Ave. $90 (VIP)

8 p.m.: Beer in Your Glass at Emporium Arcade Bar

Similar to the above event in name and in offerings, although the event at Emporium is a) free, b) in an arcade, and c) features the release of the Emporium/Bangers & Lace exclusive brew “Goth Syrup,” from Solemn Oath, which sounds like it would be great paired with a stack of sad pancakes.
5 p.m.-2 a.m. Emporium Arcade Bar, 1366 N. Milwaukee. Free entry. 

11 p.m.: Battle for Lake Michigan at Links Taproom 

Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois—each is represented by eleven native tap offerings, and whichever state runs out of brew first is declared the winner. The event runs through all ten days of Beer Week, so prideful drinkers will be sure to check in often and drink their state to victory.
7 p.m.-2 a.m. Links Taproom, 1559 N. Milwaukee. Free entry.

Friday, May 16

12 p.m.: Hair of the Dog Temperance Brunch at The Radler

The Logan Square brauhaus pairs pints from Evanston’s Temperance Beer Company with their poutine, pretzel bread pudding French toast, and other brunch offerings. 
11 a.m.-4 p.m. The Radler, 2375 N. Milwaukee. Free entry. 

5 p.m.: Crawfish Boil at Atlas Brewing Company

$15 nets you a helping of crawfish, sides, and a special 13-ounce pour of Atlas’s Archaeopteryx Dreamcoat Blueberry Belgian Pale Ale. 
5 p.m. Atlas Brewing Company, 2747 N. Lincoln Ave. $15.  

7 p.m.: Unicornucopia: Deuce at Star Lounge Coffee Bar

Brewers of coffee and craft beer team up to host a metaphorical unicorn ritual sacrifice (yes, you read that right) in celebration of Pipeworks Brewing’s new beer featuring Dark Matter’s Devil’s Lettuce blend. After the bloodlust has been sated, CO-OP Sauce and Big Fork Bacon Sausage provide a four-course feast. 
7 p.m.-10 p.m. Star Lounge Coffee Bar, 2521 W Chicago Ave. $45-$69.99. 

Saturday, May 17

11 a.m.: Disc Golf and Craft Beer Outing at Rock Bottom

Drinking beer while playing sports is a great idea–as long as the sport in question is low-impact and disc-based. Show up at 11 a.m. at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery with a buddy for a few pints before heading to IIT for a doubles-disc-golf tournament.
11 a.m. Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, 1 W. Grand Ave. Free entry.

2 p.m.: Beerfly Alleyfight at Drinking & Writing Theater

We’ve heard of beer paired with food, but beer paired with food and art? Each beer and food pairing at the Beerfly Alleyfight gets matched with a Chicago artist who adds their craft to the mix. Find out once and for all if a chicken sandwich tastes better with a tall IPA and a side of slam poetry.   
12 p.m.-5 p.m. Drinking & Writing Theater at Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St. $35-$40. 

9 p.m.: Prehistoric Beer Prom at Atlas Brewing Company

Party like Fred and Barney at Atlas’s B.C. beer celebration. The Lincoln Park brewco promises bowling, costume prizes, dancing to an (of course) prehistoric-themed playlist, and a tap takeover from Two Brothers.
9 p.m.-1 a.m. Atlas Brewing Company, 2747 N. Lincoln Ave. Free entry.

Sunday, May 18

12 p.m.: Lagunitas Chicago Beer Circus at Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Any billing topped with performing troupe Vau de Vire Society and manic marching band Mucca Pazza is definitely going to live up to its promise of circus antics. Food, drink, carnival rides and all-day burlesque round out the big top. 
12 p.m.-5 p.m. Sat/Sun. Lagunitas Brewing Co., 1843 S. Washtenaw. $40. 

4 p.m.: Mini-Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers at Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Haymarket hosts 18 beers from around the country that have—you guessed it—been wood or barrel aged. Afterward, head home with a commemorative tasting glass and a new appreciation for coopers. 
1 p.m.-4 p.m., 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St. $55. 

8 p.m.: Craft Beer Brewtality at Reggie’s Music Joint

Show up to Reggie’s after 8 p.m. for the “Hardcore” session of the event, and if the name Brewtality wasn’t intimidating enough, Coffins, from Japan, will be performing. In terms of libations, more than fifteen breweries will be on hand, and Hardcore Craft Beer will be setting up their Alechemy station, which allows you play mad scientist and infuse your favorite beers with all sorts of different flavors.
4 p.m.-7 p.m., 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Reggie’s Music Joint, 2105 S. State St. $30-$40. 

Monday, May 19

7 p.m.: Creative Minds on Tap at Jerry’s-Wicker Park 

Exercise the thinky side of your hops-addled mind with a panel discussion on craft beer’s past and future, and the roles storytelling and artwork play in the micro-brewing world. Reps from Lagunitas, 5 Rabbit, Half-Acre and more line the dais, with a Q&A to follow. 
7 p.m. Jerry’s, 1938 W. Division St. Free entry.  

9 p.m.: NightFever and The Whiskey Dix at Drinking & Writing Theater

Brewers from Haymarket and Rock Bottom comprise this cover band that promises to make you “dance and sing a long like a little girl." 
9 p.m.-1 a.m. Drinking & Writing Theater at Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St. Free entry. 

Tuesday, May 20

6 p.m.: Beer & Art: Featuring Won Kim at DryHop Brewers

DryHop is celebrating the women of DryHop with the release of their Women of DryHop Brewers Beer, a hibiscus and orange peel schwarzbier. On the art side of things, DryHop decks out their space with the work of noted graffiti artist Won Kim. 
6 p.m.-2 a.m. DryHop Brewers, 3155 N. Broadway. Free entry.

7 p.m.: Craft Beer Week Collaboration Dinner at Dusek’s

Pilsen hot-spot and Best New Restaurant Dusek’s hosts a dinner and drinks pairing with Allagash and Solemn Oath. Chef Jared Wentworth and company serve up a four-course dinner, plus dessert, with planned dishes including a sunny side duck egg with smoked oyster hash, and a seared dry aged ribeye with bone marrow dumplings. Quaffs include limited-release beers from Solemn Oath and Allagash.
7 p.m. Dusek’s, 1227 W. 18th St. $75/person, exluding tax & gratuity. 

Wednesday, May 21

5 p.m.: Division Street I.P.A. Crawl

Three bars along Division Street in Wicker Park are covering I.P.A. across the U.S.A. Pop into SmallBar for I.P.A.s from the West Coast, Jerry’s for Midwest selections, and Bangers & Lace for brews from the Eastern seaboard. 
5 p.m. Various locations along Division between Hoyne and Paulina. Free entry. 

7 p.m.: New Brewer Showcase at Andersonville Brewing

The next Half Acre or Goose Island might very well be setting up shop at this Andersonville Brewing event showcasing up-and-coming brewers and brands from the Chicago area. Confirmed breweries include Rude Hippo, Aquanut, Bucket-List, and more. Check them out now, so you can say you were into them before they got big.
7 p.m. Andersonville Brewing, 5402 N. Clark St. $25. 

9 p.m.: Nordcider Pop-Up at Farmhouse Chicago

Cider during craft beer week—gauche or game? We’ll leave that question to better minds. But if your palate is in need of a refresher after six straight days of beer, Farmhouse is the place to go. They’re pouring from an all-cider tap on the second floor, featuring beverages from Vander Mill, Virtue, Blackstar Farms and more. 
5 p.m.-11:45 p.m. Farmhouse Chicago, 228 W. Chicago Ave. Free entry.

Thursday, May 22

10 p.m.: Bowling with Brewers at Timber Lanes

Sure they can brew… but can they bowl? Find out for yourself at Timber Lanes by tossing some ten-pin with the folks behind some of Chicago’s favorite beers. Half Acre, Revolution, Haymarket and more will be throwing rocks, and since the alley is rented out by the Illinois Craft Brewing Guild, bowling’s free for the night.
10 p.m.-2 a.m. Timber Lanes, 1851 W. Irving Park Rd. Free entry.   

Friday, May 23

6 p.m.: R&D Night with Lagunitas and Two Brothers at Fish Bar

Hit up Lake View’s Fish Bar for a night of rare drinks and test batches from Lagunitas and Two Brothers breweries. The event runs all day Friday and Saturday, but check in around five or six for games, raffles, and other hoopla.
11:30 a.m.-12 a.m. Fri/Sat. Fish Bar, 2956 N. Sheffield. Free entry.    

Saturday, May 24

1 p.m.: West Loop Craft Beer Fest at Chicago French Market

This fest-within-a-fest kicks off the final weekend of Chicago Craft Beer Week, and promises attendance from craft brewers big and small, food from French Market vendors, and other block party fare. A nice touch? Designated drivers get in free (but don’t let them see you sharing beer).
12 p.m.(VIP)/1 p.m.-5 p.m. Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton St. $50.

2 p.m.: Middle Brow Homebrewing Competition and Man-B-Que Dinner at Cobra Lounge

Homebrewers, take note: this could be your ticket to the big time. Middle Brow and Man-B-Que team up to host a fan-judged competition where the winning homebrew across four categories (Session, Stout, Belgian, and a final offbeat category called “Anything Goes") will be commercially brewed and sold throughout Chicago. Each beer category gets paired with a food course from Man-B-Que, and the competition only accepts 5-6 entries per beer category—so if your basement beer is ready for the masses, buy your entry ticket on the quick.  
2 p.m.-5 p.m. Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland. $20-$30. 

Sunday, May 25

10 a.m.: Half Acre Beer Brunch at SmallBar

Four beers paired with four small plates—not a bad way to start the final day of Craft Beer Week. Half Acre showcases an American Black Ale, an American Wheat, a Pale Ale, and a West Coast I.P.A. Reservations are recommended, and required for groups of five or more. 
10 a.m.-3 p.m. SmallBar, 2049 W. Division. $30

5 p.m.: Little Goat Rooftop Revolution at Little Goat

At the end of Craft Beer Week, an eleven day long beer drinker’s Olympiad, there is no better succor than the food of Stephanie Izard. Toss back a few drinks from Revolution on Little Goat’s West Loop rooftop and reminisce about the times before Craft Beer Week, the lesser person you were back then, and the beery scholar you’ve become now. 
12 p.m.-10 p.m. Little Goat, 820 W. Randolph. Free entry. 

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