Lake County Libation Trail taps into new events for its second year
The Lake County Libation Trail -- a lineup of 20 breweries, wineries and distilleries organized by Visit Lake County -- is starting its second year with lofty ambitions and a slate of events.
John Maguire, business and community development manager for Visit Lake County, said the group hopes to guide residents and visitors alike to the great local taprooms, bars and restaurants the county has to offer.
"Last year was about getting the group together," Maguire said, "and this year we are going to elevate it."
The 20 businesses along the Libation Trail are spread across the county, from Wheeling to Antioch and from Lake Barrington to Highland Park. Although they differ in size and mission, they produce a variety of alcoholic beverages -- beer, wine, vodka and more.
Maguire said Visit Lake County is in the process of making an interactive digital map to get patrons to visit sites on the trail.
"People would be encouraged to go to each stop and check in on social media so they can earn points to get discounts or to get swag," Maguire said. "We want to make this something people seek out."
While the interactive map would aid people looking to blaze their own trail, the first event of the year is a guided tour. On Sunday, Jan. 27, Stephen James of Vorlauf Tours will lead a group of about 30 beer enthusiasts to Half Day Brewing Company in Lincolnshire, Roaring Table Brewing in Lake Zurich and Tighthead Brewing Company in Mundelein.
Tickets for the Lake County Libation Trail Tastin' Tour are $69.95. Visit Lake County and the Daily Herald are hosting a contest for two free tickets at events.dailyherald.com.
James, a former employee of Crystal Lake Brewing and an expert on the Chicago brewing scene, has been giving tours both in the suburbs and the city for about a year and a half.
He said the three stops on the first Libation Trail tour are excellent examples of what the county's brewing scene has to offer.
Beer lovers will stop first at Half Day to sample the Lincolnshire brewery's beers and have a pizza dinner. Then they'll travel to Roaring Table to sip the Lake Zurich spot's rotating brews and admire the taproom's decor.
"It has such a cool aesthetic that is like nothing I've seen in a brewery," James said. "Nothing in that place is not immaculate."
The evening will finish with a guided tour of the production facility at Tighthead Brewing Company, which became perhaps the most celebrated of the Lake County beermakers after earning a gold medal at last year's prestigious Great American Beer Festival in Boulder, Colorado.
If brew fans aren't able to snap up one of the tickets on James' tour fast enough, there are many more events being organized. On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Daily Herald will host the Libation Trail VIP reception at Light the Lamp Brewery in Grayslake, which will be available to 15 runner-up prize winners from the tour contest.
Light the Lamp and all the other stops on the trail soon will receive a new Libation Trail Official Member sign made from the top of a barrel. Maguire said camera crews will visit each member brewery, winery and distillery to make promotional videos.
He said membership in the Libation Trail grew from 13 members last year to 20.
"We see potential for it to get to 30 members," Maguire said. "We want to make sure it is as complete as possible and give every producer in the county the opportunity to jump in."