(Lenny Gilmore / Redeye )
When Goose Island opened the doors to its Clybourn brewpub more than 25 years ago, "craft beer" was barely in Chicago's collective vocabulary. Now, new breweries open here each year, and we can brag that our favorite beers are made just a neighborhood away. All of that hometown pride culminates annually in Chicago Craft Beer Week—actually 11 days of $4 pint specials, tap takeovers and bar crawls—which runs May 15-25. So, how to prepare yourself? First, you should start carrying around a giant bottle of water ... right now. This will serve you well. Next, download the official Chicago Craft Beer Week app so you have access to the full schedule, searchable by neighborhood, on your phone. But because sorting through 430-plus beer events can make your eyes glaze over, we've chosen a few can't-miss parties for every type of drinker. Raise a glass, Chicago; this one's to us.
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Xoco-Revolution beer-paired menu
Xoco 449 N. Clark St.
Peace out of the office a bit early and beeline for Xoco, where a selection of Rick Bayless' Mexican dishes are paired with Revolution beers. We're especially intrigued by the smoked short rib torta with salsa negra glaze ($12.75), paired with a Crystal Hero IPA. Daily through June 4.
Kaiser Tiger Grand Opening with Deschutes Brewery
Kaiser Tiger 1415 W. Randolph St. 312-243-3100
The new West Loop beer- and sausage-focused bar and restaurant throws a party with Deschutes Brewery's Woody, a giant wooden keg-on-wheels. Expect snacks, beer flights and a special tapping of Mirror Mirror barleywine. Saturday, May 17. 3 p.m.
Revolution Tap Takeover
Southport & Irving 4000 N. Southport Ave. 773-857-2890
No reservations are necessary (and no cover, too) at this casual night of beers, food and raffles. Snack on drinking-friendly food including mussels with dry-cured Spanish chorizo, fennel, shallots, garlic and white wine ($12) or a double cheeseburger with green pepper jam and hand-cut fries ($12) alongside $4-$8 Revolution beers such as Coup d'Etat saison and Cross of Gold golden ale. Each beer earns you one raffle ticket; the winner of the drawing at 9 p.m. wins a private tour (for 10) of Revolution's Kedzie brewery. Friday, May 23. 7-9 p.m.
WANT TO DRINK FOR CHEAP?
Hundreds of bars offer $4 pint specials during Chicago Craft Beer Week (check the app to find the ones nearest you). Here here are a few highlights:
Kasey's Tavern 701 S. Dearborn St. 312-427-7992
$4 Revolution Rosa hibiscus ale
Northdown Cafe and Taproom 3244 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-697-7578
$4 18th Street/Northdown collaboration Candi Crushable session pale ale
Dusek's 1227 W. 18th St. 312-526-3851
$4 Krusovice Czech pils
Paramount Room 415 N. Milwaukee Ave. 312-829-6300
$4 5 Rabbit Gringolandia super pils (a 7 percent ABV hopped pilsner)
High Noon Saloon 1560 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-227-9339
$4 Lagunitas Couchtrippin' XIX dry-hopped brown ale
ARE YOU A NEWBIE?
Celebrating Women of Craft Beer
Riverview Tavern 1958 W. Roscoe St. 773-248-9523
More than 30 Chicago-area female brewers collaborated on one beer, brewed at Evanston newcomer Temperance Beer Company. Taste the fruits of their labor—a pale ale dry-hopped with German Hull Melon hops—and meet some of the industry's female faces. Thursday, May 22. 7 p.m.
Cheers to Local Beers
Monk's Pub 205 W. Lake St. 312-357-6665
New to the city? New to beer? Taste your way through Chicago's beer scene at this three-day tap takeover featuring more than a dozen local breweries including Begyle, Off Color, Half Acre and Local Option. 9 a.m. Thursday, May 15- 5 p.m. Saturday, May 17.
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood Trolley Pub Crawl
The Dawson 730 W. Grand Ave. 312-243-8955
Cocktail drinkers can be beer drinkers, too. Mix a little of both at this trolley tour of three cocktail and beer bars including The Dawson, Lone Wolf and Sportsmans Club. Sip a Greenbush Sotto Voce wit and a Templeton rye old fashioned at The Dawson before embarking on your booze-and-brew tour, which includes a cocktail and beer pairing at each stop. Monday, May 19. 6-10 p.m. $45. Tickets: the-dawson.com
FOR THE NERDS:
Founders KBS Tapping
Skylark 2149 S. Halsted St. 312-948-5275
Beer fiends wait in line—sometimes overnight—for this coveted beer release from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Founders Brewing Co.. Here's a chance to get your hands on their Kentucky breakfast stout (aka KBS) without all the drama. Wednesday, May 21. 4 p.m.
Division St. IPA Crawl
SmallBar 2049 W. Division St. 773-772-2727
Hop heads, this one's for you. Check out SmallBar for West Coast IPAs (including offerings from Stone, Ballast Point and Lagunitas), Jerry's for Midwest IPAs (from Three Floyds, Surly, Half Acre and more) and Bangers & Lace for East Coast IPAs (such as those from Maine Beer Company, Allagash and Sixpoint). Enjoy $2 off select pours if you take the full tour. Wednesday, May 21. 5 p.m.