During the excitement over my giveaway of the Bourbon County Stout Variety Pack, I had a question buried deep within the many Facebook comments involved. However, I've now lost it in the shuffle, so let me paraphrase if you please:
"I am not into craft beer as much as my boyfriend. I have bought us tickets for the Living Social Craft BeerFest at Union Station on December 20-21. Do you think he'll enjoy this?" — Obb V. S. Sudonim
Dear Ab-Beer writes: I have not yet covered any LivingSocial events because their information seems a little skimpy and I can never get a list of brewers. That and they seem to be more interested in talking up "giant Beer Pong." That does NOT meant you guys won't have any fun. But once you've finished your sampling tickets or your 3-hour session ends, and the day is still young, you may feel up to adding a bit more to your experience.
Before giving any advice, I would say to make your getting home plans. Those 16 drink tickets may be in one or two ounce pours, but you may be getting much stronger beer than you're used to. If you don't have a ride home, be prepared to spend a few hours chilling at some of Union Station's restaurants. Lacking a White Castle, Chicago's go-to hangover food, you may need to graze the McDonald's dollar menu, or step up to the Corner Bakery on the Jackson side of the Station, or even the Beggar's Pizza a bit further south on Clinton.
If your quest is for more beer, I will offer a few suggestions that will keep you off the bridges in cold, windy weather. Just walk to the Ogilvie Transportation Center (stay somewhat indoors by going through one of the northbound train gates. It will end with stairs leading you up to Madison St., across the corner). Depending on the hour, you can stop at Burger Joint inside the retail section's food court. They've usually got some new local beers on tap, and your usual run of burgers, dogs and gyros. Or go past Washington to the French Market under the Ogilvie's platforms. If it's before 7 pm weekdays, or 4 pm Saturday, you will find Freitkoten Belgian Fries and Beer. The ambiance there is still kind of, well, "train stationy," but they have a huge selection of bottled beers, most of them Belgian or Belgium styled (plus Domaine DuPage and an Allagash on tap). Plus some fancy burgers and, oh yeah, big cones of Fries with a choice of sauces. And the location has a couple dozen other international food stands to help take the edge off.
Now to really make a good impression, you may want to suggest to your boyfriend hitting a brewpub. The one that would not require a cab ride or at least one CTA transfer would be Haymarket Pub and Brewery, at 737 W. Randolph, by Halsted. Yes, you'll have to cross over the Kennedy where it's usually windiest, but the walk will do you good. I could say I highly recommend Haymarket, but truth is, I recommend any brewpub. This has the added attraction of not packaging its beers, so what's on tap there will not likely be found anywhere else. And you might be able to take in a show from the Drinking and Writing Brewery theatre.
Being as this is the West Loop and Greektown, I can warm you that chances are any place you choose is likely to be crowded. But at least you can sit at the bar and try some beers.