Holiday-related festivals and activities are now merely a memory, and the free-flowing fun of outdoor beer fests has become an aspiration. But I see no reason for Chicago to go dry all January and shun our rightful merriment. We are one of the best beer cities in the country, after all, and we have so many reasons to celebrate 12 months a year.
Chicago Ale Fest
What do you do with a large boat landing off a major body of water in the middle of a Chicago winter? Bring in nearly 40 breweries and cider-makers—many of which are local to the area—and pull up a bunch of food trucks to pair with them. Done. Now mix in some games and activities and you got yourself an Ale Fest done Chicago-style.
Details: January 11, 3–7 p.m.; $50 for general admission and $60 for VIP
#DomeLife2.0 at Open Outcry
All winter long, Open Outcry sets up four greenhouselike structures on its rooftop so we can all live that #DomeLife. Each “dome” seats 10 people; reservations are for 2.25 hours and include 10 32-ounce crowler cans (or choose between wine and mimosa options).
9th Beerthday Celebration
It’s actually hard for me to believe Haymarket has been around for nine years. I remember when it seemed like it was joining a crowded craft beer scene, but look how far we’ve come. This Randolph Street brewpub is celebrating by tapping a whole slew of barrel-aged barley wines and hosting a live performance by Mr. Blotto.
Details: January 12, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Maplewood Tap Takeover at Kuma’s West Loop
Maplewood and Kuma’s are joining mouthwatering forces to form a powerful lineup of imaginative burgers and expertly crafted ales and whiskeys. Get in to try some limited-release offerings, like Morbidly Obese Pug Extra Fudge, their imperial stout with milk chocolate and cacao nibs, and Krispie Cakes, a golden ale with Rice Krispies, marshmallows, and vanilla.
Details: January 16, noon–10 p.m.
22nd Annual Brewpub & Microbrewery Shootout
Metropolitan Brewing’s glorious taproom will be the venue for Chicago Beer Society’s annual throw-down between numerous regional powerhouse brewpubs. Attendees can sample fare and beers from participating entries and vote for the best; winners will be announced at the end of the event.
Details: January 18, 1–5 p.m.; $75
Whiner Beer Co. & Marisol Collaborative Dinner
Beer drinkers and foodies alike will adore this guided meal by Whiner’s brewmaster and cofounder Brian Taylor at Marisol, the contemporary American restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Whiner’s sustainable barrel-aged sours program at the Plant and Marisol’s chef, Jason Hammel, make for one dynamo Chicago dinner.
Details: January 22, 6–10 p.m.; $72
Beer 101: Intro to Beer, Styles, and Basic Flavor Components
Feel like you need to get educated about this whole beer thing? Perhaps the research you did in college wasn’t exactly knowledge based. Well, the Beer Temple on Elston Avenue has got you covered with a survey course on beer-making, styles, and ingredients.
Details: January 22 and February 5, 7–9 p.m.; $35
Winter Brew 2020 at Dank Haus
Chicago beer drinkers should already be good friends with Lincoln Square and its annual German festivals. Now in January, the neighborhood is taking the fest indoors (thank you, LS) but keeping the stellar beer lineup; Alarmist, Old Irving, Sketchbook, and many of said breweries will have specialty brews on tap. Plus, Fountainhead will be in attendance to provide the requisite bratwursts.
Details: January 25, 1–4:30 p.m. and 7:30–10 p.m.; $10 ($30 with 20 food/beverage tickets)
Chili Cook-off Benefiting Common Pantry
It’s winter and there’s a chili competition at a brewery—need I say more? Oh, wait, the brewery is Dovetail, which makes some of the best European-style lagers ever. And if chili is pretty much the best thing that you do, then sign up by January 12 to strut your stuff.
Details: January 26, 2–5 p.m.; $15 ($10 for those submitting chili)
C2E2 Cosplay Party
The Revolution Taproom on Kedzie Street can get a little crazy with your average weekend crowd, but there will be no comparison when this cosplay event moves in for a C2E2 warm-up party. If a chance to win three-day passes to C2E2, held February 28–March 1 at McCormick Place, doesn’t intrigue you, a spectator’s view of the evening’s cosplay contest will probably be more of your bailiwick.
Details: January 31, 6–10 p.m.