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lagunitas

chicago cheap ass (21)
Events,

Chicago Ideas Week: What to See & How to do it for Free

I first learned of Chicago Ideas Week sometime last year, a few months before the week, itself. Chicago Ideas Week is a weeklong series of events – lectures (“talks”) and hands-on learning and understanding (“labs”). The topics have a wide range: political, spiritual, educational, technological, and more. At the end of the day, Chicago Ideas Week is the organizers’ attempt at exposing you to something new and opening up your mind.

The speakers are all of an extremely high quality – some Chicago natives and business, and others from across the country or even oversees. Last year I shook hands with Reverend Al Sharpton! This year is their 5th anniversary of putting on the event, so you can expect an extra-special lineup.

In retrospect, I knew that one way or another, I had to get involved.

I’m a big fan of volunteering – putting your time in to get into an event for free. You may recall my article on getting into Lollapalooza for free as a volunteer.

With Chicago Ideas Week, you can volunteer as little or as much as you’d like. The shifts are clearly spelled out on their volunteer portal. Just make sure you don’t sign up for overlapping shifts. Some talks and labs are across the city or in Chicago’s close by neighborhoods, so you’ll need to plan travel accordingly. You’ll have to check in before the event starts and stay a little bit after it ends, but it’s a small price to pay for free admission to hearing some amazing speakers dive into topics you normally wouldn’t be exposed to.

As great as volunteering is, sometimes it’s nice to just attend the event as an attendee. Expect to pay $15 for lab and talk tickets. Become a member of Chicago Ideas Week, and save even more on tickets (with the lowest level membership starting at $45). Buying a membership means supporting an amazing organization that does everything it can to make sure income-level isn’t a factor for people interested in expanding their minds. A certain amount of tickets are held in reserve to be given free to interested community members that wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.

If you’re overwhelmed with all the speaker and talk options, I’ve created a guide to get you started. Here are the labs I’m the most excited about:

Graffiti Art with Havas Worldwide Chicago
Thursday, October 15, 2–5pm

Learn about legal (commissioned) graffiti with Hava’s Worldwide’s Chief Creative Officer, and help create a live graffiti installation!

Designing the Front Page with RedEye
Tuesday, October 13, 12:30–2:30pm

Participate in the front cover headline brainstorm and how RedEye brings many different elements together for a polished, finished product.

Inside the Eastman Egg Company Monday
Monday, October 12, 2015, 6–8pm

I used to work at Groupon, and the Eastman Egg Company had a food truck that parked itself in front of the building at least once a week. The sandwiches are so good; any foodie would enjoy this tour that includes constructing your own egg sandwich!

Pie Making 101 with Bang Bang Pie Shop is another great option with a similar context.

Lagunitas Brewing 101
Tuesday, October 13, 4–7pm

Learn all about brewing from America’s largest craft brewery, looking at intermittent ingredients like hops and grain, then sampling the final product.

How to #MakeCoolSh*t with 555 International Wednesday
October 14, 10–11:30am

Meet with the president and founder of 555 International, responsible for creating The Girl and the Goat’s and Hard Rock Cafe’s space and feel. Then, learn more about the process of designing.

There are also a lot of amazing speakers and topics. A few I’m looking forward to:

Heroin: A National Epidemic

Time for “The Talk”: Your New Guide to Getting it On (There’s a free meetup afterwards!)

The State of Mental Health in America (This one also has a free meetup afterwards)

The topics are of a wide variety, but are certainly not lacking in interesting subjects! For a full schedule of labs and talks, click here.

One final note – Chicago Ideas Week has a really fun Twitter chat on Tuesdays at 11am Central Standard Time. It brings together a lot of Chicago residents and businesses, and the topics are always interesting to ponder. I was honored to be asked to host the chat a few months back 🙂

Whether as a volunteer or attendee, there is no shortage of events to check out during Chicago Ideas Week. What Chicago Ideas Week talks or labs are you the most excited about?

chicago cheap ass
Drink, Food,

Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour

 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.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
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.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
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.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
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!
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
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.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tour
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!
Big thanks to Brooke for her photo contributions!
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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Busy Week, Busy Weekend

7/20 – Farmer’s Fridge and Furious Spoon
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Today one of my favorite past freelance clients came to visit Social Media Beast. Farmer’s Fridge brought up some yummy salads – some I haven’t tried yet. The Southwest Salad was phenomenal. If you follow them on Facebook and Twitter, they tend to give coupons and freebies on the regular.
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For dinner, I took the Chicago Cheap Ass bloggers to Furious Spoon. A few weeks ago, I won dinner for myself and five friends, so I coordinated it to work with everyone for tonight. I was a little disappointed when they weren’t ready for us (I’d be communicating with what I assume to be a member of their marketing team prior), but in the end it didn’t get in the way of us eating some delicious Furious Ramen. We all got the same thing because it looked so good. The broth was the best I’ve had in Chicago, and the noodles had an interesting consistency that was different from others I’ve tried. I’m looking forward to my next visit there.
7/21 – No More Zipcar
Today was an interesting day. For the past 10 months or so, I’ve been working for Zipcar as a Brand Ambassador. It was fun for awhile, not to mention a good source of income while I was building up commission at my current job, but it just wasn’t worth my weekends, anymore. So I quit and gave up my employee discount, but gained more freedom for other freelance activities and to focus more on Chicago Cheap Ass! I’ll miss the awesome people I worked with, but it’s time to move on.
7/22 – Hibachi Lunch and Drinks with an Old Friend
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Today we went out to visit a new client in Vernon Hills. We were there early enough to stop at a Hibachi place called Tsukasa for lunch. I freaking love Hibachi. I used to live next to Sakura Teppanyaki when I was still in Lakeview, which was a daily temptress for me. Anyways, lunch tends not to be as exciting as dinner, but give me fried rice and steak and I’m more than good.
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Shortly after getting back, I met up with my old Groupon friend Eric. He took me out for drinks at one of my old favorite spots, Kinzie Chophouse. Now that Illinois changed the happy hour law (for the better!), they had some awesome drink specials on Sangria. So we got a carafe (ok maybe two), and some beer cheese dip and caught up.
7/23 – New Laptop!
I FINALLY got my new laptop. And by got it, I mean it got delivered yesterday. Like after I already left work. BOO. You guys have to understand – this was a long process. First I made the conscious decision to buy a new one. Then I took on extra freelance projects to be able to afford it. Then I applied for the Chase United card so I could make those points work for me. Then the card took a month and a half to physically be in my hands. Then I ordered the laptop and it took a few days to be delivered (late). So needless to say, it was a long process but I’m a very happy girl now 🙂 I needed a new one because I’ve had my old one since the early college years. It’s super slow and it gets in the way of my productivity.
An important note to add is that I got an almost brand new laptop completely tricked out with the best storage, processing power, etc – about $300-400 less than it would’ve been new. How? Apple’s Refurbished section! It comes with a year warning and Apple Care for any issues you could potentially run into, which is a lot better guarantee than buying off Craigslist.
So I basically spent the night playing with my new laptop and setting it up right. Nothing too exciting to report!
7/24 – Fitness Video? and Commons Allies Concert
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So late afternoon, I headed to the Lacuna Artist Lofts to participate in a fitness video shoot. I recently joined the Windy City Bloggers Collective (WCBC), and this opportunity presented itself. I had my makeup done and met another blogger, who runs Big City Blonde. The Lacuna Artist Lofts were really cool. So many interesting artsy things… all the businesses there seem to be popups or by appointment only. Unfortunately, the shoot went long so we didn’t get to be involved in the initial project (though there are opportunities for the future). I am glad to have met Mischaela, though! She’s a great girl and I’m always happy to make Chicago blogger connections.
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My boyfriend came over shortly after and we had a high-carb dinner, since we had a race to run the next day. Then we headed to North Bar to watch my cousins’ band Common Allies. They put on a great show – they always do.
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7/25 – Big Ten 10k and a Trip to the Suburbs
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We woke up (too) early to go to Soldier Field for the Big Ten 10k. It was awesome to see all the Big Ten schools represented. I ended up doing the 5k since my knees have been acting up when running lately. After the race, we enjoyed some Goose Island beer, Amylu sausages (the chicken apple and gouda one was amazing), and got some swag from our universities.
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After the race, I cleaned up and caught the Metra back to the suburbs. One of my best friends from high school was in town and we got our group together for dinner. It was nice to see them all since it’s rare that we’re all in the same place at the same time. I also took the opportunity to spend a Barnes and Noble gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket. It’s rare to find a book that’s cost-effective at Barnes and Noble, but I had my eye on “Psycho”, which had no good discounts on Amazon. So I got that and “Brain Rules” and called it a day.
7/26 – Lagunitas Brewery Tour and Reggie’s Rock Bus
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No sleep was a common theme for this weekend, but I’ve got to say – I had a lot of fun. We met my boyfriend’s friends and family (and some other cool people) at Kincade’s for a drink. Then we got on Reggie’s Rock Bus and had some bus beers on the way to Lagunitas Brewery. We got to the brewery and were immediately impressed by the dark, neon walkup. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the tour right now (it will be a future post), but guys – this tour is FREE. You will get drunk as a skunk and have a blast. I’ve been on a bunch of brewery tours and this one knocked them all out of the water.
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