My husband and I like trying new beers. We’re beer people, and it’s one of our hobbies. In honor of Chicago Craft Beer Week, I’d learned of the Chicago Craft Beer FESTIVAL, and decided it might be fun to attend. With tickets – each including a 3oz sample glass and 15 drink tickets – each running about $45, I’d practically written it off. Then, magically, a deal appeared on Groupon for admission for two – including a sample glass and 15 tickets per person – for $45, I jumped on it. I also had a discount code for Groupon, so I wound up paying $40 for my husband and I to attend.
I had a good time at the festival, and feel like I got my money’s worth, despite a few annoying things that, had I paid full price, I might be steaming about.
First, though, the good! It was a beautiful day to wander around a festival, and we tried many delicious brews. Our favorites were the Tallgrass Brewing Co. Buffalo Sweat (an oatmeal cream stout), the Local Option Morming Wood (a coffee amber) and the Rude Hippo Honey Basil brews. We tried lots of beers. Honestly, none of the brewfolk were taking the actual drink tickets, so we could have drank non-stop for four hours and no one would have cared. When we left, we handed our remaining 29 (of 30) tickets to some festival late-comers. Everyone in attendance was in a friendly mood. It was nice to be out and about at an adult event sans our kiddo. We love him madly, and he spent a lovely afternoon at his friend’s house, so everyone had a good time. Also, like I said, I paid less than Buy One Get One Free for admission, so I think it was a good deal.
The bad! Mainly, that this was a horribly organized event. We had these advance tickets, but the festival was held inside another festival. Arriving, we got herded into a long and confused line of people who didn’t know why we were in line. My husband ventured to the front of the line to find out that we all had to get wrist-banded before we could go into the actual beer festival. This was fine, but having one person there to tell us why were in line would have eased a lot of confusion. The line didn’t take very long, and we were soon inside. It is obvious that this event was oversold – it was “elbows to assholes” the whole time we were there. This was not helped by the fact that the breweries were all under white tents, with no evidence from outside the tents of who was where. There were maps around, but very few people had them. (I got one at one point, and countless people asked me where I’d found it.) Essentially, it was a big game of “hold your glass and hang on” as we fought line after line to get to sample the brews.
Also, there were only these 5 port-a-potties for, I’m estimating, 1000 people?
Despite annoyances, we wound up having a nice time and certainly sampled a wide variety of beers. I’m glad we attended the first day of the fest, as some breweries seemed to be running out of things by 2:30pm.
Will we return? Probably not. But it was fun nonetheless.
Cheers! Drink responsibly!