The thrill of the chase typically sends beer lovers from bottle shop to bottle shop, but access to the VIP tent at this summer’s Naperville Ale Fest puts a quick end to the pursuit of some of craft beer’s biggest whales. Full of huge stouts and porters, hop bombs and some fun sour and fruit ales, you can sample a handful of beers typically reserved for special release all in once place. No lottery or endless lines, just great beer and perhaps a bit of a buzz.
Only a very limited number of Naperville Ale Fest VIP tickets remain so don’t delay…
Goose Island – 2015 Bourbon County Rare Stout
Bourbon County Stout hardly needs an introduction as one of the most popular barrel-aged beers in the country, but their Rare variant is just that: much more rare. First released in 2010 BCS Rare is aged in 35-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels for two years before bottling. 2015 marks the second release of the highly sought after stout and boasts an impressive aroma of decadent bourbon, malt and caramel and makes for an incredibly smooth beast of a beer.
Revolution Brewing – Straight Jacket
Straight Jacket, from Revolution Brewing’s highly sought after Deep Wood Series, is a massive barrel aged barley wine with notes of bourbon, stone fruit, toasted coconut and vanilla. It’s rich and hot and in the brewery’s words, it will “warm your insides in the dead of winter.” We’re still happy to enjoy it during the summer. If you’re looking for a good representation of the style, this beer is it. But don’t take our word for it — it took the gold medal in the Barley Wine category at 2014’s Festival of Barrel Aged Beers.
Founders Brewing C0. – Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Photo: Lakeshore Beverage
KBS has been one of the craft beer world’s most coveted beers for years and is responsible for putting Founder’s Brewing on the map. Released every year in April, KBS takes about a year from brew day to bottling, spending most of it’s time in oak barrels. As you would expect from an Imperial stout, it carries a hefty 12% ABV, heavy notes of coffee and chocolate with the smooth overlay of bourbon for a truly fantastic beer that lives up to the hype.
Toppling Goliath – Psuedo Sue Pale Ale
PsuedoSue arrived in Chicago earlier this year in cans to every beer lover’s delight, but the VIP tent offers the rare opportunity to sample this coveted American Pale Ale fresh from the tap. PsuedoSue is a smooth, bright pale that balances delicate tropical fruit notes with a crisp hop finish. It’s an extremely drinkable beer that walks the fine line between APA and IPA with a mild bitterness, but just enough bite to satisfy even the biggest hop lover.
Half Acre Beer Co. – Freedom of 78 IPA
Photo: Half Acre Beer Co.
A true juicer, Freedom of 78 is a collaboration between Chicago’s own Half Acre Beer Co. and Short’s Brewing Co. in Michigan. Brewed with gallons of guava puree, this IPA is unlike any you’ve had. Tropical fruit notes are dominant in aroma and flavor without being imposing and finishes like most other Half Acre beers: hoppy. It’s a fun beer created by two of the Midwest’s best breweries and can only be found in the summer months. Grab a pour while it lasts!
Solemn Oath Old Order
Naperville’s Solemn Oath Brewery only sold their barrel-aged beers in their taproom or at a small number of select bars in the Chicagoland area. But they wanted a way for more fans of their beer to try these limited quantity releases. Enter the Old Order series: a program Solemn Oath created that ensures members receive bottles without the risk of them selling out. The Old Order will make an appearance at Naperville Ale Fest, which means you can get special access to these barrel-aged beauties without a full membership.
Pipeworks Brewing – Fish Series
Photo: Pipeworks Brewing
No one does big beers quite like Pipeworks Brewing, who has built their reputation on high ABV barrel-aged beers and some of the boldest IPAs in Chicago. Pipeworks loves the mighty IPA so much they’ve concentrated their efforts on a whole series of double IPAs dubbed the “Fish Series” that features super hopped-up beers all brewed with honey and each using different variations of fruit in the brewing process. Like most of their beers, they can be hard to get to before they’ve been snatched from the shelves, so be sure to get your fill in the VIP tent before they’re gone.
Upland Brewing – Peach Barrel-Aged Sour Ale
Photo: Upland Brewing Co.
After starting their sour program with peaches in 2006, Indiana’s Upland Brewing returns to the fruit that started it all with this barrel-aged sour ale released just a few months ago for the first time. A tangy and refreshing pour, it has fresh peach aromas with a slight wine-like funkiness that carries over to a delicious tart peach taste. Prickly and effervescent, this sour ale finishes dry and leaves your mouth watering from tangy, fruity flavors. Few things seem as perfect for a summer sipper as this sour ale.
Perennial Artisan Ales – 17 Mint Chocolate Stout
Photo: Perennial Artisan Ales
While the cold winter months are safely behind us, Perennial’s 17 Mint Chocolate stout is a nice throwback to the season of dark beers. Brewed with huge additions of cacao nibs and mint leaves, 17 pours as black as motor oil with a thick, inviting mocha foam head. Ample chocolate malts produce a dark chocolate aroma and robust, roasty flavors that give this stout a chocolate chip mint cookie taste. Super smooth and silky, it’s a real treat to enjoy this stout out of season. And at 10% ABV, this dessert-like beer is dangerously drinkable, even in the summer sun.
The fifth annual Naperville Ale Fest – Summer Edition will take place on Saturday, July 15 and will feature over 200 unique American craft beers, live music and food from some of the area’s favorite restaurants and food trucks. Situated on the grounds of the Naper Settlement, with downtown Naperville as a backdrop, it is the ideal setting to experience craft beer.
Naperville Ale Fest
Saturday, July 15th