Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Summer is the time for beer festivals

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Saturday was the first day of summer, Hooray! While some complain about the heat and humidity, I absolutely love summer weather. After living (and working outdoors) in Arizona during the early 1980s, the Midwest summer is not a problem for me. My stint in the Arizona heat may have (probably) damaged me. I’m sure my family and friends would agree. HA!

There is also another season related to summer: beer festivals — WHOOP! Beer festivals are a great way to try out many different types of beers for a fairly reasonable cost. Along with beers that are usually available at area retail stores and some that are not, there are often some beers you just won’t find ever again called special tappings.

Sampling beer, combined with the camaraderie these festivals seem to create, makes for a unique and enjoyable experience — far from a drunk fest attended by fraternity-like individuals some people think of these as.

In addition to sampling beer, many of these festivals have short educational beer-related seminars, such as beer-food pairings and ingredients of beer.

Following is a list of a few of the upcoming festivals around the region, according to date. I’m sure I have missed some, but space constraints limit me.

• Appleton Ale Fest, June 28 — Appleton, Wis.;

• Barrington Brew Fest, July 12 — Barrington, Ill.;

• MKE Firkin Beer Fest, July 19 — Milwaukee (my wife and I are attending MKE Firkin for the first time and looking forward to it);

• Naperville Ale Fest, July 19 — Naperville, Ill.;

• Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Midwest Edition, July 21 — Chicago;

• Milwaukee Brew Fest, July 26 — Milwaukee;

• Highwood Craft Beer Fest, Aug. 2 — Highwood, Ill.;

• Great Taste of the Midwest, Aug. 9 — Olin Park Madison, Wis. (Great Taste has been one of the Forest City Brewers’ much-anticipated festivals for many years);

• Oak Park Micro Brew Review, Aug. 16 — Oak Park, Ill.;

• Midwest Brewers Fest, Aug. 23 — Plainfield, Ill.;

• Screw City Beer Fest, Sept. 6 — Downtown Rockford (Forest City Brewers will be pouring our home-brewed craft beers!);

• Great Lakes Beer Fest, Sept. 13 — Zoological Gardens, Racine, Wis. (A group from Forest City Brewers will be pouring our home-brewed craft beers at Homebrew Island);

• Thirsty Troll Brew Fest, Sept. 13 — Mount Horeb, Wis.;

• Egg Harbor AleFest, Sept. 20 — Door County, Wis.;

• Rails and Ales Brewfest, Sept. 20 — Green Bay, Wis.;

• Wisconsin Beer Lovers Brewmasters Oktoberfest, Sept. 27 — Wausau, Wis.;

• Lisle Ale Fest, Sept. 27 — Lisle, Ill.;

• Munster Ale Fest, Oct. 18 — Munster, Ind. (This is an inaugural event hosted by 3 Floyds).

Don’t forget about the various Oktoberfest festivals in late September.

Most, if not all, of the above-mentioned festivals have a website that can be found easily by searching for them on the Internet.

If you plan on attending any of these festivals, please make an effort to attend the Screw City Beer Festival. Not only is it right here in Rockford, but it has developed into a very nice festival, and as I mentioned, the Forest City Brewers will be there with some of our fine crafted beer. Don’t hesitate to get your tickets, as this event sells out rather quickly!


Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the June 25-July 1, 2014, issue

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