The behemoth Chicago Craft Beer Week saturates the city May 14-24, providing a multitude of excuses to drink more beer than anyone reasonably should. Now in its sixth year, CCBW offers a mind-boggling range of beer-centric happenings, including tap takeovers, brewer meet-and-greets, special releases, homebrew competitions, and fests within the fest. The 15 events below are good bets, but there are hundreds more listed at chibeerweek.com.
The official kick-off event for Chicago Craft Beer Week is Beer Under Glass, the enormous beer festival at the Garfield Park Conservatory that includes nearly 100 breweries and food samples from 15 restaurants. A lower-key alternative is Beer Under Tin at Paddy Long’s, featuring brewers and beers from Metropolitan and Off Color Brewing, plus a live filming of an episode of the webseries Just Keep Tastin’. Beer Under Glass, 6:30 PM, 300 N. Central Park, $60; Beer Under Tin, 7 PM, 1028 W. Diversey.
Fischman Liquors and Tavern pours Legends, Rarities, and Vintages (aka rare beers) from Colorado’s Avery Brewing, including several that are 17 to 18 percent ABV: Uncle Jacob’s barrel-aged imperial stout, Tweak barrel-aged imperial coffee stout, and a 2011 vintage of a strong dark ale called the Beast. Also on the roster are two beers informed by cocktails: Insula Multos Collibus, a strong sour beer fermented with cherries and aged for nine months in fresh bourbon barrels (inspired by the manhattan), and Fortuna, a sour ale aged in tequila barrels, with lime zest and sea salt added after the barreling process (inspired by the margarita). Andy Parker, who creates the brewery’s sours and barrel-aged beers, will be on hand to talk about his brews. 6 PM, 4780 N. Milwaukee.
The Drinking & Writing Brewery’s Beerfly Alleyfight, now in its ninth year, features beer with food pairings from ten homebrewers, plus performances by local artists inspired by the pairings. Noon, Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph, $40.
Local breweries compete in a dodgeball tournament at Goose Island Sunday Funday; attendees can watch the game and taste the special beers being tapped, which include Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from 2013 and 2014, a couple of tequila-barrel-aged saisons, and several varieties of Bourbon County Stout from the past couple of years. Other local breweries will also be pouring. 2-6 PM, Goose Island Barrel Warehouse, 605 N. Sacramento, $25.
Chicagoland breweries that have opened their doors in the last year—Aquanut, Arcade, Empirical, Pollyanna, Sketchbook, and more—pour their beers at the annual Boomtown! at the Andersonville location of Jerry’s. (On Sunday 5/17, the Wicker Park location of Jerry’s will host new breweries from the south side.) 6-8 PM, 5419 N. Clark.
At a special tapping, Old Town Social offers the most Three Floyds beer you’re likely to find on tap outside its Munster, Indiana, brewery: Backmasking, Big Tiddy Assassin, Blot Out the Sun, Skull’Ole, Throat Snatcher, and Zombie Dust. 5 PM, 455 W. North.
Many local—and nonlocal—brewers got their start at Goose Island, and tonight the Beer Bistro is bringing together at least a dozen of them for its Ex-Goose Island Brewers Event. Brewers from Virtue Cider, Perennial Artisan Ales, Revolution Brewing, Off Color Brewing, Pipeworks, Firestone Walker, 5 Rabbit, and Moody Tongue, among others, will be serving their beer and cider. 5:30 PM, 1061 W. Madison.
Members of the Order of the Black Phoenix (aka former Rock Bottom head brewers) converge tonight at Haymarket Pub & Brewery, itself headed by former Rock Bottom Chicago head brewer Pete Crowley. Admission to this edition of Mini FOBAB (Festival of Barrel-Aged Beer) includes tastings of more than 20 barrel-aged beers from Three Floyds, Surly, Solemn Oath, Gigantic Brewing, and others, as well as bread, cheese, and house-made sausage. Doors open at 5 PM, event begins at 6 PM, 737 W. Randolph, $75.
DryHop Brewers hosts a double collaboration release: one, a kettle sour (which uses a souring technique that involves lactobacillus bacteria), brewed with Pipeworks, and the other, an American IPA, brewed with 18th Street Brewing. Several more Pipeworks beers will also be on tap (the list hasn’t yet been released). 6 PM, 3155 N. Broadway.
The Northwest Side Craft Beer Ride shuttles ticket holders among eight bars and breweries to taste beer from Pipeworks, Ale Syndicate, Pollyanna, Middle Brow, Alarmist Brewing, Bucket List/Blue Nose, Finch’s Beer Company, Lake Effect Brewing, Rude Hippo, Breakroom Brewery, and Brickstone Brewery. Participants can start at any bar; four buses circulate among the venues for the duration of the five-hour event (beer is not included in the ticket price). 6-11 PM, various venues, $20.
The Green Lady’s Sour Bash is exactly what it sounds like: all 30 taps, plus three firkins, will be dedicated to sour beers, the lineup of which is yet to be announced. 4 PM, 3328 N. Lincoln.
Chicago Craft Beer Week wraps up with the Welles Park Craft Beer Festival, which features around 75 breweries—not quite as many as Beer Under Glass, but there’ll still be more beer than any one person could reasonably consume. Food will be sold on-site, but isn’t included in the price of general admission. $55 GA, $75 VIP, 1-5 PM (VIP admission starting at noon), 2333 W. Sunnyside.
Homebrewers face off at the fourth annual Bubbly Creek Barrel Brawl, hosted by Homebrewers’ Pride of the Southside, the Plant Chicago, and the new Motor Row Brewing (formerly Broad Shoulders Brewing). Attendees can taste and vote on up to 30 homebrews for the People’s Choice Awards; a panel of certified judges will choose one entry to be brewed commercially at Broad Shoulders. 2-6 PM, the Plant, 1400 W. 46th, $25 to attend (no fee to enter a homebrew).
The folks who run Thalia Hall think they know the best way to detox from ten straight days of drinking craft beer: by drinking more beer. For those whose palates (and wallets) have had enough of high-gravity hop bombs and barrel-aged beers, Crap Beer Day offers $1 specials on Mickey’s, Lone Star, Schlitz, High Life, Budweiser, and Hamm’s. There’s also bottle service (High Life 40s), blind taste testing, and square dancing with the Golden Horse Ranch Band. 4 PM, 1807 S. Allport, $10.