On Sunday, we went to the 2013 Chicago Craft Beer Festival at St. Michael’s in Old Town. We crammed into a giant tent with what seemed like a thousand of our closest friends to try as many craft beers as possible in four hours. Here are our favorites ranked from “Yeah, I’d pay money to drink it” to “where can I buy this beer right now?”


9. Speakeasy Vendetta Limited Release IPA

The pour was gorgeous amber with a great, fluffy head. It’s the only beer people in the cattle corral were talking about prior to the gates opening. And yet, the beer billed as somewhere between a single and double IPA didn’t do too much to impress us. To us, it was very run of the mill in the IPA category, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking for something a little hoppier to drink all day. LetsPour


8. Tenacious Traveler Shandy

We honestly can’t remember the last time we walked into a place and ordered a shandy. On a day like Sunday, in a tiny tent filled with a couple hundred other people, the mild, lemon taste layered on top of the ginger and wheat base makes it a good alternative to Leine’s when you’re out in the heat all day. Traveler Beer


7. Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer

There are differing schools of thought on whether or not Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer actually qualifies as “beer,” but since it was served at a Craft Beer Festival and has a listed 4.8% ABV we’re counting it. It’s spicy, different and a little rough, but in a good way. As much as we enjoyed the flavor trip outside the confines of the rest of the day’s flavors, Crabbies seems most at home as a team player in a Dark ‘N’ Stormy or Moscow Mule. Crabbie’s Ginger Beer


6. Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

The only thing we love more than beer is bourbon, so combining the two is an easy victory when it comes to our taste buds. Having said that, the sweet notes of vanilla and oak (presumably thanks to the bourbon barrels) and the creamy finish don’t elevate it out of the good category. Kentucky Ale


5. Dogfish Head Chicory Stout

This beer is dark. We would even call the pour opaque. But even with the confluence of the chocolate and smoke flavors, it falls a little flat in the body department. It’s definitely drinkable, but it’s not the first stout we’d reach into the cooler for. Dogfish Head


4. Tommyknocker Butthead Doppelbock

Amber color. Good head. Notes of coffee, toffee and smoke. Probably the best beer name since Ska’s Hoptimus Prime. You find something a little different in each sip, which is why we’d have no problem downing a few bottles on a hunt for different flavors. Tommy Knocker


3. Black Walnut Dunkel

Nutty, complex and with definite citrus tones, Black Walnut Dunkel is a beer we would definitely pay money to drink again, but it’s rich enough that we probably wouldn’t session it. Share a bottle or three with a group of friends, but you don’t need to stock your cellar with it.


2. Ale Syndicate Sunday Session (Our Other Favorite)

Ale Syndicate is a fresh brand in Chicago, and they were one of the few vendors that actually manned their own booth. Jesse (one of the guys that started A.S.) brought Sunday Session, an effervescent, floral, hoppy ale that we would, quite literally, session all day on Sunday. Ale Syndicate


1. Petrus Aged Pale (Our Favorite)

When we were given this beer we were told it was a “Flemish sour ale.” We don’t normally argue with artisans when it comes to their products, but in this case the bottle is probably labeled wrong because this Aged Pale drinks just like a sour. It’s definitely tart up front, but not enough to make the Warheads face. It finishes smooth and was far more refreshing than water on a day like this one. It’s also the only beer we waited in line for a second time. When the lines are roughly twenty minutes long and filled with shoulder-to-shoulder sweaty people that says a lot. Bavik


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