The hordes of people attending the inaugural Naperville Winter Ale Fest at Frontier Park Saturday found that layers and plenty of beer were great ways to keep warm.
The ale fest was a hit Saturday, selling out at 2,500 tickets, a turnout that convinced Josh Seago, founder and president of organizer Lou Dog Events, to bring it back next winter.
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"We're excited to do it again," Seago said. Lou Dog Events also hosted the first Naperville Ale Fest last summer and the first Lisle Ale Fest in September.
The festival's 120 craft beers were served under two heated large tents. If that wasn't warm enough, there was a bonfire in the courtyard.
If beer wasn't your thing, there were food trucks that offered Indian fusion food, pastries and gourmet grilled cheese.
Vendors sold smaller snacks like roasted nuts, and an ice sculptor carved a polar bear holding beer out of a block of ice. Seago was convinced Chicago-area beer fans would brave the cold, pointing to Wisconsin and Michigan natives who have warmed to outdoor winter beer festivals in those states.
"We're from Chicago. It's just as cold here as it is in Wisconsin and Michigan," Seago said. "So we said let's do it. We can handle it."
Seago admitted he had second thoughts about the festival when subzero temperatures gripped the area earlier this year and was thankful Saturday's temperatures hovered around 30 degrees.
Not only was the ale fest a great way to sample some new brews, but it was also the perfect excuse to get some fresh air, said Melissa Chrisos of Naperville.
"It's close to home and I like being outside in the winter," she said. "You get out of the house (and) cabin fever."
Dave McCammon of Naperville suggested two ways to make next year's festival better: end it at 10 p.m. rather than 4 p.m., and serve the beer out of larger glasses, not the ones that are three ounces.