For June 6, being the day before my birthday, I was able to get out of the house and take in the Lagunitas Beer Circus Chicago. It was the second edition of this unique craft beer event, now occurring alongside the long-running original at Lagunitas' home base of Petaluma, CA.
Last year's Beer Circus took place before the brewery was officially opened. This time, they were better prepared, with food trucks, more vaudeville and musical acts, and besides the many spots around the area serving Lagunitas beers, there was also a tent with several guest brewers pouring samples, surrounding a stand where Lagunitas beers were poured from casks and small pins. The guest brewers included Illuminated Beer Works, Marz Community Brewing (offering spare copies of their Mash Tun Journal to boot), Vice District and Motor Row from the South Loop, Baderbräu, Vander Mill Cider, 350 Brewing, Blue Island, and Local Option Bierwerker. They had, I was informed, been instructed to bring only a half barrel of two or three beers, and ended up completely tapped out by 2:00 pm. The Lagunitas firkins kicked shortly afterward.
The weather cooperated beautifully, offering only a few clouds, lots of sunshine, but temps behaving in the upper 70s. I got my first sunburn of the season, on my wrist, and on my scalp, which seems to have less protection every year.
I had hoped Lagunitas founder Tony Magee would make a public appearance; after all, he was in town to speak at the Printer's Row Lit Fest that afternoon. Apparently I missed the set where he sat in with his band.
Among the amzing things to see were the Redmoon Theatre Performance Tower, sideshow diversions by Chicago Circus Fest, doing walkaround entertainment on stilts and pennyfarthing bikes, and Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow.
There was plenty of protein to filter through the beer, thanks to a collection of local food trucks, and the Lagunitas folks offered a cart of inexpensive tamales (Believe it or not, my first experience with tamales. Just a week after my first time with sushi. It's never too late to try something that, um, a billion other people already do every day).
Proceeds from the wingding benefited PAWS Chicago's no-kill animal shelter.