During the fifth annual Chicago Craft Beer Week, Aurora's Hopvine Brewing Co. plans to dedicate all of its 32 taps to breweries from the state.
"There are over 80 craft breweries in Illinois now," said brewmaster Ken McMullen. "It's not a big stretch for us."
That boom in local breweries is what the festival aims to nurture, while also introducing the area to craft beers from around the world.
"When you look at the whole landscape of craft beer in Chicago and the suburbs it's growing so rapidly," said Illinois Craft Brewers Guild executive director Justin Maynard. "That's something that we celebrate as a city. There's just a demand for local craft beer and craft beer in general in the market. In 2013 the numbers of actual sales of beer were down, but in the craft beer segment it was up dramatically."
Hopvine, which opened last fall, is running a full slate of events during the 11-day fest including a brewery tour and home-brewing discussion on May 17 and a five-course beer dinner on May 21.
"We're a full brewery restaurant, and when you pair food and beer together and do it accurately and successfully, both things are improved," McMullen said. "The food tastes better, the beer takes better, the whole experience is better."
This year's event spans 500 events at 300 venues from May 15 to 25. If you want to try a few brews, here are some of the events happening at suburban bars and breweries. For a full list visit chibeerweek.com.
• Beer House, 322 Yorktown Center, Lombard, (630) 268-1111: Come at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 15, for free brats and $4 pints of Trumer Pils. At 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22, the bar hosts a bags tournament and raffle awarding a Two Brothers gift basket and a tour of the Warrenville brewery. Order $4 pints of Sidekick extra pale ale or Dog Days lager while you play.
• Firkin, 515 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, (847) 367-6168: Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Global Beer Imports with a party from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 15.
• World of Beer, 1727 Freedom Drive, Naperville, (630) 955-0399: From 6 to 11:45 p.m. Friday, May 16, you can meet representatives from Ska Brewing, North Coast Brewing, New Holland Brewing and Central Waters brewing and try their beers on draft along with barbecue pork and brisket and sides from Two Soldiers and a Marine food truck.
• Nevin's Brewing Company, 12337 S. Route 59, Plainfield, (815) 436-3900: The brewery hosts its second annual 21 Beer Salute on Wednesday, March 21, tapping beers made with Oreo cookies, jelly beans and other odd ingredients. They'll be opening new beers every half-hour until 8 p.m. and you can get a sample for $1. After that all the brews are available as $5 pints.
• Warren's Ale House, 51 Town Square, Wheaton, (630) 462-5126: At 6 p.m. Saturday, May 17, you can meet the brewers from Flesk Brewing and SlapShot Brewing Company. The bar will be serving two beers from each brewery along with food specials.
• Bigby's Pour House, 1700 W. Lake St., Addison, (630) 733-1050: The bar dedicates all 20 of its taps to Chicago breweries including 5 Rabbit, Goose Island and Half Acre starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 21.
• Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, 639 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook, (630) 739-6036: You can take a tour, learn about the brewing process and sample some of the brewery's German lagers and ales from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 15. At 6 p.m. Monday, May 19, you can enjoy a $65 five-course dinner made with ingredients used in the brewing process and served with beer pairings. Beer novices will want to come at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, for a presentation and tasting led by head brewer John Wyzkiewicz.
• The Beer Market, 641 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook, (630) 739-3000: Order a Lagunitas draft from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, and you'll get a Mason jar glass to take home.
• Tap House Grill, 6010 S. Cass Ave., Westmont, (630) 541-8840: Feast on a five-course dinner including seared sturgeon and stuffed flank steak with pairings from California's North Coast Brewing Company for $50 at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15. You can also try some local beers and meet the brewer from Lyons' BuckleDown Brewing at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 17.
• Penrose Brewing Company, 509 Stevens St., Geneva, (630) 232-2115: For $40 you can take a tour of the brewery, samples four beers and join a Q&A session with the owners from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 22. Tickets include a tasting glass and two issues of The Mash Tun Journal.