How much does Chicago love its beer? Our craft beer week is 11 days long, if that's any indication. The fourth annual Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 16-26) is busier than past years, with 21 new breweries joining the lineup of tastings, tap takeovers and $4 pint nights. The schedule can seem a bit intimidating to newcomers, so we've mapped out the ultimate calendar for those looking to dip their toes into Chicago's thriving beer world. If you're planning to attend multiple events, download the free Chicago Craft Beer Week app (chibeerweek.com), which has a complete listing of the more than 400 events, plus neighborhood guides and a function that tracks your attendance, earns you points and could win you some swag at the end of the week. My advice to first-timers? Check out a bar you've never been to, drink plenty of water and clear your week of morning meetings. email@example.com | @redeyeeatdrink
Thursday, May 16
Pre- and post-Beer Under Glass Party
Haymarket Pub & Brewery 737 W. Randolph St. 312-638-0700
Beer Under Glass, the CCBW kick-off party at Garfield Park Conservatory, has been sold out for weeks, but anyone can attend the unofficial pre- and post-festivities at Haymarket in the West Loop. Expect to find brewers and beer fans chatting it up over popular Haymarket drafts such as Mathias Imperial IPA and two new collaboration beers made in conjunction with BuckleDown Brewing. 3 p.m. Free admission.
Friday, May 17
Local Option 1102 W. Webster Ave. 773-348-2008
When one of the city's best beer bars hosts its largest event of the week, expect to try some very tasty brews. Make sure to arrive early, as limited releases from breweries such as Evil Twin, Central Waters, Dark Horse and Local Option itself won't last long. If you don't get your hands on the rarest beers, don't sweat it; the bar's draft list is consistently packed with intriguing options. 3 p.m. Free admission.
Saturday, May 18
Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219 S. Morgan St. 773-837-0145
Like food and art along with your beer? Then head to Bridgeport, where the folks behind beer 'zine Mash Tun have teamed up with chef Won Kim of homebrew group Brew Ha Ha to host a night of visual art and culture as it relates to beer. Expect mixed media, performances and photography, plus more than two dozen beers and bites from Flesh for Food, an underground bacon supplier. Yes, underground bacon. 5-9 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are available at undertheinfluenceartshow.org.
Atlas Brewing Company 2747 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-295-1270
Imagining reliving your prom, but with better beer and with probably fewer tacky tuxes. Atlas and next-door bowling alley Seven Ten Lounge host an evening of Two Brothers beer, '80s music and dancing—corsages optional. 9 p.m. Free admission.
Sunday, May 19
Goose Island Beer Company 1800 W. Fulton St. 312-226-1119
The Chicago-based brewery responsible for 312, Honker's Ale and others celebrates a silver anniversary with a block party on Fulton Street near the production brewery. Rare Goose Island releases will be tapped along with guest beers from Half Acre, Virtue Cider and others. Noon-3 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at gooseisland25.eventbrite.com.
Monday, May 20
Greenbush and Local Option Invasion
Farmhouse 228 W. Chicago Ave. 312-280-4960
Get to know two stellar Midwest breweries—Chicago's Local Option and Greenbush from Sawyer, Mich.—as each take over four taps at this River North farm-to-table tavern. 6-10 p.m.
Tuesday, May 21
$2 Pint Night
Easy Bar 1944 W. Division St. 773-227-4644
For less than the cost of a latte, take a chance on a new beer from breweries such as Bell's, Founders, Revolution and more at this laid-back Wicker Park bar. 5 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22
Hamburger Mary's 5400 N. Clark St. 773-784-6969
If you can't keep up with all the new beer companies launching around the city, get a crash course at this new brewery meet-and-greet. Chat and drink with brewers from operations that have opened within the year (or plan to open by year's end) such as Spiteful, DryHop, Ale Syndicate, Begyle and more. 7-10 p.m. $20 buys 20 drink tickets.
Thursday, May 23
Northwest Side Craft Beer Ride
Hosted by Lake Effect Brewing 312-919-4473
Irving Park, this one's for you. Hop aboard a party bus at any of the eight participating Northwest Side bars for a craft beer pub crawl that makes stops at spots such as Fischman Liquors & Tavern, Hops & Barley and McGill's Bar & Grill, where bartenders will pour drafts from Pipeworks, Argus, Lagunitas and others. 6:30 p.m. $20 includes transportation, a map and a commemorative glass. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/369693.
Celebrating Real Women of Craft Beer
Riverview Tavern 1958 W. Roscoe St. 773-248-9523
Brewing can seem like a boys' club, but female brewers from Metropolitan, 4 Paws, Two Brothers and others will be on hand at this film screening of "The Love of Beer," a documentary about the rise of women in the beer industry. This party also marks the release of a saison beer called 99 Problems that the women brewed together. 6:30 p.m. Free admission.
Friday, May 24
The Bar on Buena 910 W. Buena Ave. 773-525-8665
Maybe you've tried Allagash White, but there's more to this Maine-based brewer of Belgian-style ales than just that beer. Pop in to this under-the-radar craft beer bar in Uptown for tappings of special brews and an education in all things Allagash. 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 25
Clinton Street between Lake and Washington streets 312-504-1884
What's better than drinking craft beer? Drinking craft beer outside. Hope for sunshine for the first-ever West Loop Craft Beer Fest, which shuts down Clinton Street near the Chicago French Market. Dozens of Midwest breweries will be on hand, and vendors from the nearby market will provide food for purchase. Noon-5 p.m. Tickets are $40-$65 and are available at westloopcraftbeerfest.brownpapertickets.com.
Sunday, May 26
Delilah's 2771 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-472-2771
Fans of fruit beers can expand their palates at this annual event, which showcases lambics (spontaneously fermented fruit beers) and sours (slightly tart or acidic beers) from breweries such as Cantillon, Hanssens, Chapeau and Drie Fonteinen in addition to $4 pints of Brewery Vivant Tart Side of the Moon during all of CCBW. Warning: These sours might just become your new favorite drinks. Noon-5 p.m. $20 buys 20 drink tickets.