I’m a huge fan of festivals that combine an appreciation of craft beer with small bites for a satisfying experience all around. When those small bites all center around the theme of bacon… I’m in heaven.
The Bacon and Beer Classic happens yearly in New York City, Seattle, Indianapolis and of course… Chicago! You won’t have to wait long, since it’s happening Saturday, October 10 at Soldier Field. Depending on if you prefer your weekend sips earlier or later in the day, you can pick between the “brunch” session (1-4pm) or the evening session (7-10pm).
So what can you expect at the Bacon and Beer Classic? Let’s take a look:
3 hours of drinking and eating craft beer and bacon
If you opt for VIP admission, you get in 1 hour early for either session and exclusive access to craft beer that you can’t get with a General Admission ticket. VIP is perfect for a real craft beer aficionado.
Tickets are $59 and $99 for General Admission and VIP and can be purchased on Eventbrite. Use code “CHEERS” for 20% off 🙂 See you there!
I’ve been dying to check out Lagunitas Brewing Company for the longest time. Last year for Christmas, I bought my boyfriend So You Want to Start a Brewery?, written by the founder of Lagunitas. They also sponsored Social Media Beast’s sister company Concierge Preferred at their annual trade show earlier in the year. I got a chance to hear the Marketing Manager (the founder’s sister!) speak about how much she loves her company, and more importantly, details regarding the newly opened taproom in Chicago.
So checking out Lagunitas Brewing Company has been on my radar for quite some time now.
An opportunity presented itself to take Reggie’s Rock Bus (YES), so we could go, drink as much as we pleased, and make it back home (or close enough) afterwards.
First of all, if you’ve never been on a Reggie’s Rock Bus, I highly recommend it. The bus itself is spray painted with trippy Chicago icons both inside and out. The driver is super friendly, and doesn’t care how rowdy you get on the bus. He’ll get you there safe, even though it seems like the bus could break down at any time. Oh! And the seats are super comfy, like little couches.
Anyways, we rolled up to Lagunitas Brewing Company early afternoon on a Sunday. It wasn’t too packed – seems like a good time and day of the week to check it out. There is parking if you want to drive, but I really need to stress the fact that if you go that route, bring a DD. Lagunitas Beer tends to be super thick and have a high ABV – don’t think you can just beat it by sheer force of will.
The walk up inside was intense. It was dark, with neon lights flashing down a long hallway. After getting wristbands, we were lead into a basement room to relax before our tour. In the basement, they had a bunch of different furniture sets. The pieces matched each other, but the sets didn’t have a consistent theme. It was like going to a resale store, but somehow it all fit together nicely. They also had saddle seats you could sit on – too cool.
The guys behind the bar at Lagunitas were so nice and fun. You could tell they genuinely loved their jobs, loved Lagunitas Beer and wanted us to have a good time. We were offered all the free samples we could drink – complete with biodegradable sample cups. How environmentally responsible!
One of my favorite tasters was their Brown Sugga’ Ale. Our bartender busted out bottles that ranged from 2006-2014. He let us taste two samples side by side to demonstrate a “mistake” batch they once made – and loved. Definitely a fun fact I would’ve never known if I hadn’t made my way to the Brewery.
The tour itself was pretty short – I assume they think people are there more for the beer-drinking experience than anything. It was awe-inspiring though, when seeing all the large tanks holding beer throughout different parts of the process, then learning they’re going to double the total! Lagunitas is the largest craft brewery in the United States. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been on a lot of brewery tours before – Guinness, Sam Adams, and Revolution, to name a few. I had previously been comparing Lagunitas Brewing Company to Revolution, but that was not giving them nearly enough credit – they’re approaching mammoth status (though still don’t occupy blocks of city space like the Guinness Brewery). Another fun fact – there was a scene from the Dark Knight filmed in the Lagunitas Brewing Company!
After the tour, we funneled into the Taproom. There was an in-house magician who was too good. I tried to figure out all of his tricks and couldn’t guess any of them – needless to say, he earned a nice tip from me. The food was good, though I’ll admit I wasn’t really focusing on it. I was sad there were no fries – the perfect accompaniment to beer. I seem to keep running into this problem at different restaurants – apparently deep friers are annoying to have if you don’t absolutely need them.
At the end of the day, there’s no way you can have a bad time at Lagunitas Brewing Company. The tour is FREE, the beer is FREE, and the food is perfectly complimentary (minus the lack of fries). All you need to do is figure out the best way to get there!
Have you been on any brewery tours lately? Share in the comments!
By a strange turn of events, about a month ago, I found myself taking the Metra from Chicago to Aurora. About a year ago, this wouldn’t have been so weird… I used to commute from Elburn to Chicago and vice-versa when I first started working at Groupon. But now that I’ve secured a residence in a neighborhood bordering the city of Chicago, I find myself making the trek less and less. It takes something special, like my family, or an awesome opportunity, to inspire a train ride back to the suburbs after putting in a full day at Social Media Beast.
A live #Foodiechats experience ranks amongst one of those awesome opportunities that you just can’t say no to. One of my clients at Social Media Beast is Phil Stefani Restaurant Group. When we first started working with them, they had a very talented social media intern named Taylor. We worked with her to take their social media game to the next level. Nowadays, Taylor has graduated and moved on to starting hew own integrated marketing company, Deck Media. I’m excited to see where she takes it!
Anyways, as a member of the Chicago foodie community after being so involved with Stefani Restaurants, Taylor followed many influencers in the industry, including Steve Green, founder of #Foodiechats. For those not in the know, #Foodiechats is a weekly Twitter Chat (soon to be an app!) that happens Mondays at 7pm CST. For those who don’t understand the concept of Twitter Chats, check out the article I wrote for my company blog. Anyways, the topic always centers around food, and usually is sponsored by a company related to the industry or a restaurant. Taylor saw that Steve Green was looking for local foodies to take part in the latest live event, made her interest known and invited me along for the ride.
On this particular occasion, the sponsoring entity was Two Brothers Brewing. Although I love their beer (Sidekick all the way), I’d never been to the Roundhouse – even though it’s practically in my backyard! Once I got off the train, I walked straight in – passing various bars, a coffee shop, and a beautiful courtyard. Apparently it’s the type of venue that a lot of people get married – a choice I completely understand.
Steve Green was a gracious host and made sure everyone was properly introduced and facilitated conversation, while simultaneously capturing photos and tweeting out to his loyal following. See that’s the thing about a #Foodiechats live event… you have to be a master of talking to your fellow foodies and tweeting to contribute to #Foodiechats at the same time. At one point, the owner jokingly said “Get off your phones!” It took me a minute to realize he wasn’t serious.
In this particular #Foodiechats event, Two Brothers was promoting a summer food festival (which unfortunately for you is now over). The food was absolutely incredible – a gourmet take on American comfort food favorites. And the BEER! Can you imagine having unlimited access to all that Two Brothers has to offer? It was a dream. In fact, I had the opportunity to grab a six pack of their new Wobble IPA beer. My boyfriend, a home brewer, is writing up a review that will be on the blog in the near future! Stay tuned 🙂
Unfortunately I had to skip out before the event was completely over to catch the train. But little did I know, this wouldn’t be the last of my #Foodiechats experiences.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Steve reached out to me right before the Fourth of July weekend about an event happening after everyone returned to work. This event was at Frontier and was sponsored by the Better Burger Project. The Better Burger Project is a contest from the James Beard Foundation, which tasks chefs from all across the United States to create a gourmet burger. Here’s the catch – the Burger has to be composed of 25% mushrooms! Now I’ll be completely honest with you… I’m not a huge mushroom fan. But, I am a trooper. I tried the burger and it was damn good. The fact that the burger didn’t focus on the mushrooms, but merely incorporated them, was what made it a good situation.
I also ate my first oyster. Probably also my last oyster. But I put myself out there in the name of food adventures!
I was a little more comfortable and familiar with what to expect at this event. I met some pretty incredible people who I hope to see again soon. I’m grateful to have had these experiences as I grow my Chicago blogging empire and continue to explore the food scene!
Connections are everything, and that was pretty characteristic of the awesome things that happened this week. Always put your best foot forward when meeting new people (and maintaining old friendships) – you never know where they could lead!
6/8 – Farmer’s Fridge, Quirky and #Foodiechats
Farmer’s Fridge is very close to my heart after being a part of it’s early months. I wrote a post about Salads in the Loop a few weeks back and am doing a giveaway featuring one of their salads! Anyways, this week, Farmer’s Fridge opened a new salad vending machine in a 7-Eleven location in River North. They were doing specials everyday ranging from free salads or 25-50% off. I got there for one of the free ones! Always a nice surprise. Make sure you’re following their social channels or subscribe to their newsletters – they tend to do things like this with the launch of new locations, which is happening fast.
An interesting thing happened when browsing a big Quirky sale. Quirky is an up-and-coming company that sells products everyday people invented. They have a lot of promotions and the products are a great value. Something weird happened and my order totaled $15, when it should’ve been 3x that amount. I reached out to the company and they said I got lucky and they’d honor the sale! The order was inspired by a cool beach tote with a mesh bottom to shake out sand.
The highlight of my day, however, involved a trip out to the suburbs. I was invited to participate in a #Foodiechats experience. For those who don’t know about #Foodiechats, it’s a weekly Twitter chat connecting foodies around the world (and it’s about to become something even bigger). This event was at the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, conveniently next to the train I took in. We sampled food from their upcoming Summer Festival and a healthy plethora of Two Brothers Beers. I won’t go into too much detail here because I plan on writing a follow up post, but it was a night to remember! Lots of thanks to my friend Taylor who got me in on this event!
6/9 – Xoco and Lentil Marinara
Today I made my second ever trip to Xoco. It’s one of the office favorites, and a Rick Bayless restaurant creation. I met with a friend who helped me move to buy him lunch. We discussed this blog and he will be helping out with a section about networking and speaking events! I think it’s something this blog is missing, as it is aimed at young professionals in Chicago.
For dinner, I made my favorite creation – a lentil marinara “pasta” with zucchini noodles. It’s one of the “cheapest” things I make, but also one of the most flavorful and healthy. I’ll write up a recipe and take some pictures for you guys next time I make it! 🙂
6/10 – Influenster and Sox Box
I recently joined an online community called Influenster. As I am constantly trying to build up my online communities, it only made sense to cash in on it in some way. Basically, Influenster gives me the opportunity to try new products for free in exchange for using and talking about them. So there will likely be an upcoming blog post about what I found out I’m getting from them first. It’s a PUR sink attachment to purify water. I bring a Brita water bottle with me everywhere I go… this will make it even easier for me to use clean, purified water when I cook!
The Blackhawks played tonight (and won!), but I was invited to a Sox game with my company and some of our clients. It was my first time in a box, and I felt like a celebrity. All-you-can-eat food (hot dogs!), beer, and the most delicious dessert cart to pick things from. And you can’t beat the view. Thanks to whatever clients couldn’t make it – I had fun in your absence!
6/11 – Devil Dawgs and Techweek
Probably knowing how hungover we’d all be after the Sox game, we had our monthly lunch, featuring the culinary wonders of Devil Dawgs. Besides crazy hot dog creations, they have some amazing sliders (the Elvis with peanut butter and bacon is to die for) and chicken sandwiches. I haven’t tried their milkshakes yet but want to. Through a mistake on our end, or theirs (I’m not sure), I didn’t get my slider this time 🙁 But I’ll be dreaming about it.4
I found out today that I got a free media pass to Techweek Chicago. I went last year and had an amazing time meeting tech industry professionals and listening to experts I really respect speak about things that matter. Do you write for a company blog? Freelance or have your own blog? You might be eligible for for free media passes – not just for this event, but many others in Chicago. Concerts, speaking events and more usually give out free media passes depending on the industry you write for. It’s worth looking into! They also have free attendee badges available for specific events if you want a taste of Techweek without paying for a full badge.
6/12 – Activate and Chicago Blog Week
Activate has some sweet deals!
So Zipcar, my weekend Brand Ambassador job, has a partnership with Activate. Activate throws parties in alleys in the Loop and brings together tons of artists and music – it’s a great time. We’re doing an instant photo booth and get to meet a lot of attendees. By some crazy turn of events, I found myself face to face with Dante, the founder of Chicago Blog Week. To make a long story short, I may be a speaker at the event! More details on that as they unfold. We plan on meeting later this week 🙂
6/13 – Mae Concert
The first concert I ever saw was Mae and The Audition, in a church in Wheaton. It’s crazy how far I’ve come since that day, but Mae (and The Audition, really) holds a special place in my heart. So I bought tickets months in advance from someone who couldn’t make the show. Didn’t have to pay any of the extra fees – score! I went to the Bottom Lounge and sang my heart out to all my old favorite songs. It was a special tour, focusing on my favorite CD of theirs.
6/14 – Aroma Workshop
I bought a Groupon a couple months back after hearing how awesome Aroma Workshop is. I took my boyfriend with so we could each create our own signature scents. We smelled a lot of different scent bases – from fruity to musky and everything in between. One of Aroma Workshop’s employees expertly combined 4 different possibilities to choose from. We each left with the perfect signature scent to suit our tastes – so much more personal than a store-bought cologne or perfume. If you buy the Groupon, it works out to be about $30 per person. Aroma Workshop also carries a variety of bath products that you can combine with your scent. They keep your combinations in their computer system so you can refill in the future!
Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.