A Guide to Chicago Craft Beer Week in The Loop
For beer geeks like myself, springtime in Chicago brings the best of craft beer. Dark Lord Day comes in late April, American Beer Classic takes over Soldier Field, and Chicago Craft Beer Week transforms the entire city into a veritable tasting room for enthusiasts and brew newbs alike. Here are the events that made my cut, and where you can find CLA staff stimulating the vibrant downtown economy after work.
If you want to see a full listing of the Chicago Craft Beer Week events, check them out here. And remember: we're in Chicago, guys, beer is taken seriously here.
May 16, 11 am, Franklin Tap
Start off Craft Beer Week right with your hoppiest local favorites. Beers from Chicago breweries such as Revolution and Ale Syndicate will be available on draft, with bottles and cans available from some of my personal favorites, Pipeworks Brewery and Half-Acre. Maya from Une Annee and Pipeworks' Citra Imperial IPA are on my must-taste list.
May 16, 6 - 8 pm, Palmer House Hilton
Making the trek up to Avondale or Logan Square can be kind of a hard sell after a long work day (or when the rain gutters look like a low-budget version of Noah), but luckily Revolution is coming downtown! Sample local favorites like Rosa Hibiscus Ale or Crystal Hero at Potter’s Lounge or in the Lockwood Restaurant. Plus, representatives from the brewery will be around to answer questions and provide explanations of brewing processes.
May 16, 6 - 8 pm, The Chopping Block at Merchandise Mart Plaza
This is a beer nerdette’s dream date. As a certified cicerone, Stephanie Scordato, will select a variety of beers to match the equally diverse multi-course menu her husband Mario has prepared. Come to impress your date and stay for the Espresso Chocolate Profiteroles: Finch Secret Stache Milk Stout pairing.
May 19, 7 - 9 pm, The Chopping Block at Merchandise Mart Plaza
Okay, so maybe your bf/gf/partner is more of the wine-cooler type...its all good! You can fly solo at Chopping Block for a beer tasting guided by Michael Roper, the owner of Northside gem Hopleaf Bar. I’m stoked for this event because as an Andersonville resident, I’ve developed a distinct appreciation for the bar’s ever-changing draught and expansive bottle lists (also, their mussel frites), so it will be refreshing to see the beer guru at work down in The Loop!
May 20, 7 - 8 pm, The Berghoff Restaurant
Since opening its doors in 1898, The Berghoff has been serving food and beer together…its basically part of their legacy. For CCBW, they’ll be giving attendees a beer flight with small plate tastings to match, as well as explanations of how each is made and why the pairing works so well. For an authentic German bar, their Solstice Wit is on-point!
If you work in the Loop, you know that Monk’s is great for an import beer or local draught special, and Chicago Craft Beer Week is certainly no exception. You can check out the Deschutes tap take-over on May 21 to sample brews from the Oregon-based brewery, or if you’re a self-loathing Chicagoan, maybe you can get on board with the May 19 NY <3 CHI night, featuring Brooklyn Brewery and Ommegang. Forgive my skepticism, those breweries are very awesome, but I just can't let the spire/antenna beef go.
May 22, 23rd and 24th, Monk's Pub
I’ll be attending one of the Tap Dat Stash nights, which will feature rarities such as the Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine, Clown Shoes Space Cake and a personal fave, Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout. Most of these beers are the sort of treats one may only get to try amid a tasting circle of middle-aged beer collectors (not that I know from personal experience or anything…), so take advantage of Monk's generous cellar.
Photo: Chicago Craft Beer Week / Facebook