For the 16th year, downtown Oak Park, Ill., a walkable, brick-paved suburb of Chicago, will host the Oak Park Microbrew Review. Here, 3,000 people rocking comfy t-shirts, sunglasses, and sandals can try over 200 different kinds of craft beers, meads, ciders, and seltzers. From the classic to the unique, beer-lovers will get a mouthful. Last year, Beguiling Brewing broke out a pineapple sour ale, “When Pineapples Fly With Coconut,” while Burning Bush Brewery brought “Heavenweizen,” described as a traditional German hefeweizen with banana, clove, and a splash of bubble gum. Holding the 6 oz shooters in hand, people bop to live music, buy from local food vendors, and pop in and out of quaint restaurants and businesses lining the street.
This festival isn’t just for beer-lovers, though. It’s also for Earth-lovers. Oak Park Microbrew Review is a fundraiser for Seven Generations Ahead (SGA), a nonprofit dedicated to building environmentally sustainable futures through actions that address the climate crisis and create healthy communities. In the case of this festival, the goal is to produce a zero-waste event that is just plain fun. Yes, zero waste. For the whole day of drinking, eating, and general lolly-gagging, SGA manages Resource Recovery Stations stocked with recycling, composting, and landfill bins, positioned throughout the neighborhood. Sustainability Rangers standing nearby in their neon-colored tees are ready to assist and inform about what it takes to host the largest zero-waste craft beer festival in the Midwest.
But it’s OK if beer isn’t your thing. As long as sweet summer time is. It’s totally free to forgo the brews and just enjoy the neighborhood by grooving to the 10 live bands and trying the 12 local food vendors on site. While we’re still waiting for this year’s lineup to drop, musical sounds vary from the folksy and rock-n-roll to those homegrown singer-songwriter tunes you might expect from a local festival outside of Chicago. As for the food, barbecue and other street foods for meat-lovers to vegetarians make up the menu.
General admission gets you 40 samples from 6 oz shooters. That’s a lot of beer.
- About 3,000 to 4,000 people attend every year.
- General Admission tickets, which get you access to 40 6 oz. samples, are $65 if you buy online in advance and $70 at the door. Early Entry tickets, which get you pours an hour early at 1 pm, start at $80, and give you access to judge in the Iron Brewer Competition, which happens before the doors open to everyone else. Start even earlier for a private reception at 12 pm with a $100 VIP ticket, which also comes with complimentary food, a special glass, and access to special seating. If you want to support SGA’s work even further, you can buy a Friend of the Fest ticket for $300, which includes two VIP tickets and a $100 donation to SGA.
- In the past, Oak Park Microbrew Review has used Untappd, but is still looking for a sponsor to cover the cost of the subscription, so the app is not live yet.
- If you’re not sold on being in and around Chicago, check out Fifty Grande’s Why I Love: Chicago to turn your head. And if you need things to do in Chicago, we got you covered.
What’s the nearest airport?
Good ole’ trusty Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is exactly 10 miles from Marion Street, Oak Park, IL.
Do I have to buy my tickets in advance?
You don’t have to but you really should. This hometown favorite is known to sell out.
How do they accomplish zero-waste?
Get a taste of zero-waste with this info page from a former community partner.
Are children and dogs allowed?
Can I support SGA without attending the festival?
Short answer, hell yes. This org is doing so much to support the earth and their community. Donate here.