BBQ & Brew

Name the two best things to indulge in during the summertime (or any time, for that matter). If the answer is barbecue and beer, you’re doing well for yourself! There is nothing better than sipping on a cold craft beer while munching on slow-smoked ribs, dripping in an authentic, tangy sauce. Throw in some live music and local vendors, and you’ve got a festival to attend. Check out these highly-anticipated summer season events that are perfect for satisfying any barbecue and beer craving you may have.


Chicago, IL

Chicago style hot dogs, Chicago deep dish pizza, Chicago popcorn, Chicago…you get the idea. Just about any food has a famous cousin that resides in the windy city, and publicity comes free with the way they’re serving up these classics. Beer is a given, but barbecue? Could we actually wrap our heads around the idea that the south may not be the only region serving up blue-ribbon recipes? We certainly can, and the Windy City Ribfest in Uptown, along with the Chicago Craft Beer Festival is why.

The Windy City Ribfest in Uptown will be in full effect the weekend of June 30th to July 2nd. Enjoy live music from local bands and acclaimed establishments, like the Green Mill and Riviera nightclub. This location alone, at Lawrence and Broadway, is enough to attract massive crowds. Parking is available nearby, for around $10 to park all day. This is the festival of the summer here, where you’ll be sampling savory slabs from places like Aussom Aussie Australian BBQ, the Chicago BBQ Company, Porky Chicks BBQ, and the BBQ King Smokehouse, all top “ribbers” from last year’s event.

The Chicago Craft Beer Festival isn’t too far off from the Ribfest, and is being held on the 22nd and 23rd of July. Located in the Lincoln Park district of Chicago, you’ll be able to explore hundreds of different local breweries that will be offering daily samples. Purchase a tasting ticket in advance for around $40, which will get you 15 3oz samplers of a beer of your choice. If you decide to go with a larger group, you can save money on tasting tickets overall. With the purchase of a tasting ticket, you’ll also receive a souvenir tasting glass, access to the private tasting area, and live music throughout the day!


Sun Prairie, WI

What word goes hand in hand with the pairing of barbecue and brew? Bacon! Head to Sun Prairie for the Bacon, Brew & BBQ Festival, because they are one-upping all others by adding America’s favorite salty strips of goodness to the mix. Happening on June 24th, in Angell Park, the Bacon, Brew & BBQ Festival will be serving up both classics and funky spins.

The festival is strictly for ages 21 and up, so this is a summer event worth finding a babysitter for. General admission is around $60 and VIP is $85, but what you get with each ticket is well worth it. VIPs get unlimited – yes, unlimited – beer samples, a souvenir glass, free soft drinks and water, access to live music, FREE barbecue tastings, priority entry, and $30 in Bacon Bucks. Bacon Bucks will get you access to tons more free food, and if you run out of bucks, there are more available for purchase once inside. Parking is free, and there will be over 20 food vendors and over 60 breweries at the event. Complete your day with a stop in at the BBQ competition, and when your belly is full of beer and bacon, you can take the shuttle service back to you vehicle, which is a round trip service as well.


Duluth, MN

“All Pints North Summer Brew Fest” is not only fun to say, but also an amazing way to wrap up the month of July. Happening on Saturday, July 29th at the Bayfront Festival Park, the All Pints North festival is a 21+ event, with over 120 breweries at your fingertips. The festival will take place in the afternoon, from 3pm-7pm, so eat a big brunch and head on over. If you purchase tickets in advance, they’re $45, but at the door they’ll be $55, so go online and purchase them at if you can.

Tickets get you unlimited craft beer samples and access to local food vendors, as well as educational booths, live music, and a variety of beer-centered activities. The festival may not have the word barbecue in its name, but vendors will be serving BBQ pulled pork sliders, braised beef, and many more creations for those of you that can’t ever get enough of that smokehouse flavor.

This summer, kick back and relax with a rib in one hand, and a pint in the other, because, let’s face it, that’s what we’d be doing all year long if we could. These festivals are sure to please, and remember that the pricing for most of these tasting tickets includes unlimited samples. Check each website for ticket purchases and vendor, entertainment, and location information. See you there!