You Know You’ve Been Thirsty for Beer Festival Season—It’s Here

Photo courtesy of Half Acre Beer Company

Summer may still be a few weeks out, but beer festival season is getting into high gear in Chicago. Throughout the city and suburbs, you can find patio parties, slashie events, Mayfests, and much more, as breweries and beer bars raise a pint to the onset of warm weather.

Ticket Sales for Half Acre’s Big North Begin
Tickets for this fourth annual event go on sale May 22 at 10 a.m., and while it doesn’t actually take place until August 17, it’s always a good idea to act fast on a unique—and wildly popular—beer fest like this one. The party happens 4–9 p.m. at its production facility on Balmoral; attendees get access to production areas typically only available during tours and can take part in the quirky activities Half Acre no doubt has in store. There will be live music, but the real attraction is all the Half Acre beer, naturally. Nearly everything Half Acre brews will be tapped, including barrel-aged and wild ales that usually have a limited release.
Details: Tickets go on sale May 22 for the main event on August 17; $70

Balmoral Beer Garden Season Opening Party at Half Acre Balmoral
Once you have a ticket to Big North, you’ll be itching to hit up Half Acre’s fabulous beer garden at Balmoral. Well, good news, friend! This Friday, May 24, Half Acre is showing off its outdoor style with a beer garden party. It will be unveiling a new bocce court and hosting Black Dog Gelato’s food truck, as well as Polish sausage “krau-chi” pizza from Kimski. I’m excited to see this outdoor space come into form now that the brutal temps of winter have been vanquished.
Details: May 24, 11 a.m.–midnight

Solemn Slashie Event
Some of the biggest hazy IPA kings of Chicagoland—Solemn Oath, Pipeworks, Hop Butcher—are actually buddies and have been playing well together as of late. The reward for all Chicago beer lovers is they’re releasing several collaboration beers they just finished. Since Solemn Oath will take any excuse to throw a party, it is hosting the other two breweries to release all the beers at a patio blowout with American fare from Nobel House. Can releases include Fermentator Problem Solved (SOB and Pipeworks collab: an El Dorado and Denali hopped IPA with mango), Mortar Joint (SOB and Hop Butcher collab: a Mosaic and Amarillo hopped IPA with soft oat character), Seismic Positivity (Pipeworks and Hop Butcher collab: a Citra, Chinook, and Cryo Ekuanot hopped IPA), Galaxy Bowl Riff (the latest Milkshake Double IPA from Hop Butcher with passion fruit, peaches, and vanilla), and many more. It’s a hophead’s mandatory beer run for Memorial Day weekend supplies!
Details: May 24

Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath Brewery

Mayfestiversary at Begyle Brewing
I’m not gonna say you may like this fest, because that would be corny and just plain untrue—you’ll love it! It’s a weekend blowout with tons of beer, food, music, and kid-friendly activities. Neighboring breweries Dovetail and Begyle are hosting this third annual street fest, so expect to see lots of delicious offerings, as well as beers from some other Chicago breweries. Consume heavily at food trucks from Paulina Meat Market, Chicago Pizza Boss, and Three Legged Tacos, to name just a few. Rock out to live performances by School of Rock, the King of Mars, and many more. And play rambunctiously with unique balloon creations from Mind Blowing Balloons and all-ages Skee-Ball and Skee-Golf from The SKEE League.
Details: May 25 and 26, noon–10 p.m.; $5 suggested donation to benefit the Friendship Center

Deep Breakfast at Sleeping Village
Stave off a Sunday hangover by going to this morning/early afternoon beer breakfast, and help get the party going again after an evening of heavy consumption. Tickets include comfort food from Chicago chefs Mickey Neely and Jess Galli, hair-of-the-dog beers from Middle Brow Beer Co., and live (but chill) ambient music from Radius.
Details: May 26, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Main Street Craft Beer Festival 2019 in Park Ridge
They’re putting up barricades and turning Park Ridge’s Main Street into a beer festival for this third annual event. Sixty-five breweries from across the country will be represented, along with a wine tent, hard seltzers, and N/A beer options. Food is provided by such local establishments as M&Ms Donut Factory, Thalaiva’s Indian Kitchen, Cream of the Crepe, and Armory Pizzeria & Grill. But the action isn’t all outdoors; Beer on the Wall, Main Street’s own extensive craft beer purveyor, will become Lagerland with six taps devoted to easy-drinkin’, all-day-type beers. However, I’m most looking forward to the Hop Butcher tap takeover happening at Harp & Fiddle. This gastropub with an Irish flair will have at least five Hop Butcher beers pouring inside the bar, so expect to see its newest releases Super Deep in the Groove (a Citra and Triumph hopped Double IPA) and Galaxy Bowl Riff (a Milkshake Double IPA with passion fruit, peaches, and vanilla), plus a few more that are guaranteed to be hazy, hoppy, and oh so juicy. Best of all, the event is free to attend, so stop in to catch a quick brew you wouldn’t normally find, or stay all day and enjoy them all.
Details: May 26, 1–9 p.m.

Maifest Chicago in Lincoln Square
Lincoln Square knows how to throw a German fest, and, of course, beer is innate to such an event. This is the 20th annual Maifest in the neighborhood, where attendees gather to celebrate the arrival of summer and admire the traditional Maypole that is decorated to portray the history and crafts of the community. There’s live music each day (yes, there will be polka bands), German and American fare, and a traditional keg tapping on Friday night for the opening ceremony.
Details: May 30–June 2

Chicago Ale Fest in Grant Park
The summer edition of this biannual event takes place on “Chicago’s front lawn,” aka Butler Field in Grant Park. Remind yourself why we endure six months of frigid agony by gathering with fellow fun- and sun seekers. Hope for a sunny day to try more than 200 beers, listen to live music, sample from familiar food trucks you’ve missed out on, and just hang out in the park. Also, get your workout in by adding a yoga package to your ticket and take part in fitness and yoga classes at the event.
Details: June 1, 2–7 p.m.; $49–$59

Photo courtesy of Pollyanna Brewing Company

The Lemont Beer Fest at Pollyanna Lemont
Pollyanna and Bottles (the intimate bar neighboring Pollyanna Lemont) are teaming up again for a beer bash to usher in warm-weather season. There will be food from Chicago Culinary Kitchen (the barbecue and all-things-meat masters out of Palatine), Digs on Canal, and Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria and Pub. Also, look for live music performances by Joe Orozco, Run Forrest Run, and Centerfold Band. Of course, Pollyanna will be pouring all its delicious offerings, so be sure to try the new Double Pineapple Lexical Gap, but at 8.3% ABV, I’d advise downshifting to a Full Monty (its 5% ABV Golden Ale) afterward.
Details: June 1, 3–11 p.m.; $10

Roselle Beer Fest at Pollyanna Roselare
Pollyanna knows that when it comes to beer fests, it’s best to double-fist it. Thankfully, it has two locations, so one week after the Lemont throw-down it will be back at it in Roselle. It’s food trucks, it’s live tunes (Woogie Rocks!, Jimmy Nick, Alt 101), and it’s $10 to get in. The difference here is Roselare’s large beer garden, which should be in prime form for this celebration of the sun.
Details: June 8, noon–11 p.m.; $10