Chicago’s Oddest Beer Event is at This Weekend’s Windy City Smokeout

In Beer Reviews by Karl

We are smack-dab in the heart of beer festival time in Chicago, and we have seen all types of beer fests.

North side. South side. West side. In a zoo. At a sports facility.  In the city’s biggest park. On a boat.

We thought we’d just about seen it all, until we got word of the craft beer event at the Windy City Smokeout this Saturday.

windy city smokeout

The Smokeout itself is firmly in our wheelhouse — a day full of country music plus tons of barbecue sounds like a pretty damn good way to spend a weekend even if we got stuck with beer options ranging from Light to Lime-A-Rita. We’re still weighing whether or not to drop $40 tonight for Kasey Musgraves. (Her new album? Pretty good.)

Shortly after eyeballing the fest’s site, we got an email from their PR folks telling us about the new craft beer options they had lined up for this year’s shindig. Believe it or not, the beer options are quite good. Really damn good, in fact. For example:

Goose Island’s Vanilla Rye BCBS.

Against the Grain’s smoked My Hammy Weiss.

Local Option’s new Friend of Dorothy smoked saison, aged on oak.

Pipeworks Citra IIPA.

Beers from Urban Chestnut, Central Waters, 18th Street, Moody Tongue and five  more breweries/cidermakers.

And the piece de resistance, Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, apparently one of just twenty kegs sent to Chicago


Hell, most full-size craft beer festivals can’t pull CBS. Impressive, right?

This is when things start getting weird.

We reached back out to the PR person to see a little more about some of the other beers and as we looked a little closer, we started asking a lot more questions. Such as:

How much does this cost?

$30, addition to the regular cost of the festival ticket, so add $40 for that.

When does this festival start? 

11 a.m.

And how long does your access last?

One hour.

How much can you drink? 

Per the PR person who we peppered with questions., “all the beer you can drink before noon,” (which, not exactly legal, but hey) and also specified that these beers will not be available for purchase separately outside the event’s one-hour window.

So, to sum up:

You’ll have a bunch of people slamming as much of the 11%-ABV Canadian Breakfast Stout as fast as they can at 11 in the morning, in a parking lot by the river before a long day of consuming pork products. How much damage could you do in 60 minutes to get your $30 worth of fancy high-alcohol beer at a time when most restaurants are just opening the doors for mimosas and Bloody Marys?

There’s room in this city for all types of beer gatherings, and I’m not saying this one is any better or worse than the others. Different strokes and all. Considering the structure paired with the quality of beer, though, it is the weirdest damn one we’ve ever seen.

$30 for a single hour of beer drinking is certainly pricy, but considering what you’d likely spend to get CBS in a trade, it might be even worth it. (And in case anyone attending is still upright later tomorrow afternoon, Turnpike Troubadors put on a good show.)

More From Guys Drinking Beer

  • August 15, 2017
    Illinois’ August 2017 Beer Labels
  • August 11, 2017
    How a Dream and a Meme put a Small Indiana Brewery on the map
  • August 10, 2017
    Beer Legislation Answers From the Ameya Pawar Campaign
  • August 9, 2017
    Without Delay Review: Short's Psychedelic Cat Grass
  • August 9, 2017
    Beer Legislation Answers From the Daniel Biss Campaign
  • August 9, 2017
    Beer and Alcohol Laws in Illinois & the 2018 Gubernatorial Candidates
About the Author


Facebook Twitter Google+

Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, comes out in early 2017, and if you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.