Beer, BBQ, and country. What more could anyone want?
I’m admittedly not a fan of country music, but I’ve grown tolerant of it in my old age. At this point, country is at least welcome on my lawn. The real draw of the Windy City Smokeout for me was the beer and BBQ, and those two things were well worth the price of admission (which happened to be free via my media pass).
Chicago’s finest rolled out their smokers and grills for a weekend in Chicago, and the BBQ forked over in little paper dishes that too angled to be plates or bowls was nothing short of amazing. I’m not a professional BBQ judge, but here were my top 3:
I almost didn’t count Bub City since they were one of the main sponsors, but the fact that the 1st Lady went back to get the nachos three times in two days secured their placement. The rest of the food was stellar, and at any given moment I could easily plug three different dishes into my top three. Basically if you enjoy eating, you should go to any of the BBQ joints that were on hand.
The beer selection was on point all weekend as well. In addition to a stockpile of Bud/Light and Goose Island, there was a bounty of tremendous craft beer. It also happened to be in one of the few shaded ares (under a freeway overpass), which means I spent more than my fair share of time hanging around the beer.
It’s not often you catch a glimpse of an actual brewer at one of these festivals, but Jared Rouben, founder of Moody Tongue, was pouring his own beer all weekend long. His nectarine IPA was on point, so it’s no wonder he wanted to be there to see people’s reactions.
Tough to make a top three out of all the incredible beer on hand, but if I had to, I’d say:
Shiner set up a drunkards playground with plenty of beer, oversized Jenga, and cornhole. Recommendation: Play Jenga before drinking, not after. It’ll be much easier.
Another boozy landmark was the Jack Daniels extravaganza. They were burning custom barrel heads on sight, selling all sorts of swag, and taking pictures of people in cowboy hats. More interestingly, they also had a trailer that served as a mobile distillery tour. As you can see from the photos, it was a pretty interesting little setup. It also happened to be air conditioned, resulting in multiple times through even though I’ve seen plenty of real distilleries. Also, fun fact, Jack Daniels was a midget.
There was also plenty of country music all weekend, including several people who were apparently famous. I’m admittedly in the dark there, but people in the know said it was awesome. You can see the lineup here, but rest assured that it was stellar.
All in all, the 1st Lady and I had a glorious time at the Windy City Smokeout, and we’re definitely returning next year. I’ll also be hitting up most of the BBQ joints in the meantime because 51 weeks is far too long to wait for great food.