Though Chicago Craft Beer Week has been around for three years now, Bigby's Pour House in Addison is jumping into the celebration for the first time by hosting a suburban kickoff party.
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"We wanted to let people know there are great craft beer bars in the suburbs," says owner Ed Simbol.
Bigby's is just one of a handful of suburban bars participating in Craft Beer Week, a celebration of artisan beers and microbreweries that kicks off Thursday, May 17, and runs through Sunday, May 27.
And, yes, in this case the "week" runs 11 days.
More than 200 bars in the suburbs and Chicago will feature at least one $4 craft beer. Many have events planned as well. (For a full list, see chibeerweek.com.)
Bigby's, for example, will offer half off all taps for its Thursday kickoff party. The Elgin Public House, meanwhile, holds its Second Annual Beer Fest on Saturday, May 19.
"It's a way people can find out what they like, what different brewers are doing," says house manager Mike Taylor.
There are a number of ways to participate in Craft Beer Week. You can pick up a lanyard at Bigby's and other designated spots and collect stickers from the bars you visit for the chance to attend Revolution Brewing's Grand Opening Party on Friday, May 25 (details at chibeerweek.com).
Or, head online to see what's planned for a particular night or venue and check out what most appeals to you.
Here are a few suburban highlights:
• Kick off Craft Beer Week Thursday, May 17, with a party at Bigby's Pour House featuring half off all taps from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. The bar is at 1700 W. Lake St., Addison. (630) 773-1050.
• Be among the first to try debut brews from the area's newest brewery at the Solemn Oath Brewery Launch Party at The Bavarian Lodge, 1800 Ogden Ave., Lisle. The party starts at 6 p.m. Friday, May 18. (630) 241-4701 or bavarian-lodge.com.
• Sample beers from seven breweries at Elgin Public House's Second Annual Beer Fest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 19. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and provide 10 samples. Additional beverage tickets will be available on site. The bar is at 219 E. Chicago St., Elgin. (847) 468-8810 or elginpublichouse.com.
• Check out beer ice cream. Yes, beer ice cream, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is playing host to a number of events throughout the week, but this one is hard to beat. The brewery teamed up with Sweet Treats Cafe to create a special beer-infused ice cream that will be available 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, May 21, at Gordon Biersch, 639 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook. (630) 739-6036 or gordonbiersch.com.
• Enjoy fun pairings at Rock Bottom Brewery's Small Plates, Bold Beers dinner at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23. Pork carnitas tacos, for example, will be served with Avast Pirate Porter, or, wash down Mini Chocolate Porter Bacon Cupcakes with Nibs Chocolate Porter. Tickets cost $15 per person (includes tax and tip). Space is limited and reservations are required. (630) 424-1550 rockbottom.com.
• Sip cold beer as you nibble on spicy Asian appetizers and enjoy a five-course meal at PL8 Restaurant's beer dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 24. The restaurant, 736 W. Northwest Hwy., Barrington, will pour brews from Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, Calif., including a seasonal release not yet available to the public. The event costs $50. Reservations required. (847) 382-1988. pl8simplyasian.com.