Every multi-day music festival requires some semblance of plan going into it, so you know what bands to watch at what times on what stage. It’s all about maximizing your experience. We’ve already done our part to help you prepare for the music side of this weekend’s Chicago Open Air festival by providing our Five Can’t Miss Sets, so we figured we should follow up with the Five Can’t Miss Brews that you should be chugging at the fest.
Fist City Chicago Pale Ale 5.5% ABV
This is a pretty simple recommendation. You have two fists, right? One of which should be wrapped around this hopped-up pale ale while the other is throwing the horns. Revolution is Illinois’ largest independent brewery and it’s a mainstay in the Chicago beer scene. A taste of Chicago Open Air wouldn’t be complete without sampling something from one of the city’s finest craft breweries.
A Tout Le Monde Dry Hopped Saison 4.5% ABV
Megadeth is playing on opening night of the festival, but this beer that Dave Mustaine helped craft with Unibroue brewmaster Jerry Vietz, will be pouring all weekend. And since it’s a light-bodied saison (a Belgian-style brew meant for summer drinking) and only 4.5% ABV, you can start early and go late with this thirst quencher. The Belgian yeast and dry-hopping combine for some nice citrus and peppery spice notes for a flavor unlike any of the other beers poured in the Decibel Headbangers Bier Hall.
Iron Maiden Trooper ESB 4.8% ABV
You’ll have to imagine that Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson is urging you to “scream for me, Chicago” while you’re chugging this British-style ale, because Maiden ain’t on the bill. Dickinson himself, an avid beer imbiber, helped craft the recipe for this brew and, though it doesn’t have the complexity of its namesake, it hits all the right note for those who prefer maltier beers, with less hops.
Furious IPA 6.6%
If the first beer you head for in the Decibel Headbangers Bier Hall is an IPA named Furious (with an ABV of 6.6%), your commitment to all-things extreme is legit. Surly’s Furious is the kind of palate ravaging IPA required for eardrum ravaging sets from the more extreme bands —Meshuggah, Pig Destroyer, DEP — at Chicago Open Air. It may be heavy on the hops for great aromatics and flavor, but it’s also perfectly balanced with sweet caramel malt notes.
Gumballhead Wheat Beer 5.6% ABV
The fact that Three Floyds has brewed collaboration beers with two of the more extreme bands on the bill at Chicago Open Air—Pig Destroyer and Amon Amarth—tells you all you need to know about Chicagoland’s most metal brewery. None of those collabs will be on tap, unfortunately, so you’re gonna want to go with their Gumballhead Wheat Ale for its refreshing, thirst-quenching citrusy hop notes and total chuggability.