Update: Tickets for Night of the Living Ales, March 1, are on sale now!
With a couple of weeks where I didn't have a lot of events, and my New Year's Eve calendar that I successfully set up to self-update, I had some time to go through my calendar and pick out the big craft beer events we can look forward to in 2014. Those that have a specific date attached are already scheduled and have websites up. Approximate dates for other fests are my guess, based on last year's date, and my certainlty that they will be brought back for another year..
Events with a checkmark (actually a square root icon) (√) are now selling tickets. For big events like Dark Lord Day, watch their websites or my Facebook page for quickest notification of ticket sales.
(Early 2014) Lagunitas Brewing Opens
Lagunitas is currently hiring for both its brewery and tap room at 18th & Rockwell. As with any new brewing operation, an anticipated opening has been pushed back by this, that, and the other thing, including founder Tony Magee's last-minute decision to increase brewing capacity to 250,000 barrels per year (the original plan of 150,000 barrels was already twice the capacity of all Chicago's brewers combined). Test batches should be running through the lines as I type this.
January 25: Lincoln Square Winter Brew
Once again we are taking the Chicago Street Festival scene indoors for Lincoln Square's third annual Winter Brew! Join the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce and the Square Kegs Home Brew Club for a day and night of local beer and local food! Local breweries from around Chicago will set up shop on the 5th floor ballroom of DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave., to showcase what great beers Chicago has to offer. Sessions are 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. Check lincolnsquare.org/pages/WinterBrew/ for updates and ticket sales.
√ February 8: Cider Summit Chicago
Advance tickets are already available for the second edition of this cider-only event, taking place at the Lakeview Terrace Room at Navy Pier. Sessions will be at 11:00 am-3:00 pm and 4:00-8:00 pm, with 90 ciders from throughout the U.S., England, Scotland, France, Spain, and even New Zealand. Each $25 ticket gets you 8 tasting samples, with the opportunity to buy more on site. Chicago Brew Bus will provide shuttle service. Check cidersummit.com for info and ticket availability.
√ February 22: Naperville Winter Ale Festival
The Naperville Winter Ale Fest will be Naperville’s first outdoor winter beer festival. The inaugural festival will take place on Saturday, February 22 at 12:00 - 4:00 pm. Situated on the frozen tundra of Naperville’s Frontier Park (SE of US 59 and 95th St.) the festival will feature over 120 unique beers from craft breweries around the country. Pull out your long-johns and parkas, it’s time to experience winter’s best craft beers. The festival will also feature food from some of Chicagoland’s favorite food trucks. General admission is tickets at $45 are available at napervillewinteralefest.com
√ March 1: Day/Night of the Living Ales
One of the big events organized by the Chicago Beer Society, "DoTLA" was held in March last year at Goose Island Wrigleyville, 3535 N. Clark St. Attendees will get to sample from
over 40 casks, from around Chicago and beyond, of cask-conditioned, gravity-poured ales, and cast their votes for Champion Real Ale of Chicagoland. The Afternoon Session is from 1-5pm, the Evening Session from 6-10pm. The price is $45 per ticket, same as last year.
Go to afternoondotla.brownpapertickets.com and eveningdotla.brownpapertickets.com to make your purchase.
(March) Windy City BREWHAHA
Last year's inaugural event was held March 2nd at the Bridgeport ArtCenter, 1200 W. 35th St. No announcement of this year's event yet at Windycitybrewhaha.com. With the state cracking down on festivals with unlimited beer pours, look for a change in last year's $45 ticketing policy. While last year's list of 30 brewers included some "crafty" brands like Redd's Apple Ale and Third Shift, it also brought in some new or small brewers like Pig Minds, One Trick Pony, and Church Street, and also offered Destihl pourings before they made their move into the Chicago market.
(March) Goose Island Stout Fest
At Goose Island's Clybourn brewpub, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. Over a dozen local brewers pouring their stouts. Tickets last year were $35 and sold out within minutes of going on sale in February.
(Early April) Kentucky Breakfast Stout Release
Founders Brewing Co.'s calendar of 2014 beer releases shows KBS dropping in April. They have previously managed the release schedule with a pre-ticketed bottle pickup at their taproom, 235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI. The pickup schedule last year rand for four days, culminating in an all-day draft release party, and then bottles will go out for retail distribution. If you can't get tickets for the Grand Rapids pickup, be sure to check for local tapping in this area, and see if your friendly retailer can hold a bottle or two for you.
√ April 12: Tinley Park Brew & Vine Festival
Returning to the newly expanded Tinley Park Convention Center, 18501 S. Harlem Ave. A $28 ticket ($35 at the door) includes admission, 12 tasting tickets, a tasting glass, and entertainment. Additional tasting tickets will be available on site. 20 beer vendors and importers were present in 2013, and there will be more capacity this year. Check tinleyparkbrewandvinefest.com, email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Tinley Park Chamber office at (708) 532-5700 to purchase tickets.
√ April 24-25: Baconfest Chicago
The 6th Annual Baconfest Chicago is set for the UIC Forum, 725 W Roosevelt Rd. This year's event expands from two to three tasting sessions: one on Friday the 24th, and two on Saturday the 25th. VIP tickets at $200 are now available through Eventbrite, while general admission tickets at $100 will be offered in February. The organizers are promising to expand Baconfest further with a "Chicago Bacon Week" promotion.
(Late April) Dark Lord Day
Three Floyds puts its Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout on sale one Saturday at their brewery and tap room, 9750 Indiana Pkwy, Munster, IN. It wasn't meant to be sold one day only, but it simply sells out as some 9,000 beer fans descend on the little industrial park. Tickets go on sale on a Saturday noon about a month before (the last few times have been on Easter weekend, to mess with anyone spending the holiday away from town with relatives). It's Woodstock for beer fans (and likely more fun than any likely Woodstock 2014 concert). If you get your timed entry ticket, prepare to spend a few hours waiting in line, but you can while the time by bringing beer and trading sips with other beer geeks from around the world, listening to crunchy metal, and buying any of several guest drafts.And watch for some pre-DLD events the Friday before, especially at Flossmoor Station and Beer Geeks. Watch the Floyds' website above, or DarkLordDay.com for updates.
There will be many other new brewers and brewpubs coming on line in 2014. Very few of them can expect to announce and commit to an opening date due to waiting for equipment and licensing.