Festival brings barrels of ale to Grant Park

By Contributing Writer

Though Chicago is already a big brewing city, it is raring to taste ale from all over the country.

The city is hosting its first Chicago Ale Festival in Grant Park Sept. 19–20, showcasing more than 200 beers from more than 100 American craft breweries including Chicago’s own Goose Island and Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company.

“This [festival] makes it for us because it’s really in our backyard,” said Curtis Tarver, co-owner of Vice District Brewing Co., 1454 S. Michigan Ave. “This will give us an opportunity to say ‘Hey, look, if you are enjoying the beer, we’re actually right down the street as well.’”

The festival gives breweries like Vice District a chance to present their ales to attract new customers, Tarver said. 

Aside from tasting some quality craft brewers, festivalgoers can sample some of Chicago’s finest foods, from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to Shaw’s Crab House, according to Chicago Ale Festival website. Nine restaurants are participating in the fest, according to the festival’s website as of press time.

“We often times match up beers, wines, pina coladas, Bloody Mary’s or margaritas, whatever they happen to serve at the festival, with our donuts,” said Richard Drews, president and CEO of Dinky Donuts, which will participate in the festival. “It really lends itself nicely to popping that hot fresh donut into your mouth and washing it down with a beverage of your choice.”

Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Grant Park Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to improving Grant Park. The organization plans to use the funds to maintain the park through landscaping, architectural designs, improving traffic flow in Grant Park and updating the space for future events, according to Grant Park Conservancy president Bob O’Neill. One of these updates includes a skate park. Another part of the mission is to attract younger audiences to the park and to make the park, “Chicago’s backyard,” O’Neill said.

“We’re trying to activate Grant Park and make it more interesting and fun,” O’Neill said. “We like to look at Grant Park as sort of this outdoor campus area for all the colleges and universities. We’re trying to attract that into the park.”

For more information on the full lineup of brewers and vendors at Chicago Ale Fest, go to chicagoalefest.com or send them an email at info@ChicagoAleFest.com.