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Pour Man: Beer festivals coming into season

The Beer Hoptacular takes place Nov. 5 AragBallroom.

The Beer Hoptacular takes place Nov. 5 at the Aragon Ballroom.

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Fall beer Festivals

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Festiv-Ale

7 to 11 p.m. Sept. 16; VIP reception begins at 6 p.m.

Carmichael’s Warehouse, 1052 W. Monroe

$50 ($75 for VIP entry, special tasting); portion of admission fee is tax-deductible

(312) 236-4491;

Beer Hoptacular

1 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Nov. 5

Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence

(312) 440-9191;

$35 in advance, $45 at door; separate admission required for each session (tickets on sale in September)

Updated: May 9, 2012 9:43AM

Few words look better in front of "festival" than "beer." They just go together so effortlessly.

Nothing against the whiskey folks or whiskey itself, in doses, but I attended and fully participated in a whiskey festival about 15 years ago and the next morning I vowed it would be my last (and it was).

No matter how careful you are with your sniffing and sipping, after a while, with all of those potions mixing in your belly, you are bound to feel somewhere between punky and horrible.

I left that festival with a violent storm in my stomach and a sloppy, aggressive war in my head. I've never left a beer festival feeling anything but hopeful, generous and more handsome than when I arrived. Beers get along together.

So as we head into the fall season and the most storied beer festival of all, Oktoberfest in Munich (held this year from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3), it seems appropriate to highlight a few local beer festivals for those of us not lucky enough to be getting our beer on in Germany next month.

Beer for a good cause

The fifth annual Festiv-Ale, held Sept. 16 at Carmichael's Warehouse, benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is presented by the Sun-Times. You could do worse on a Friday night than donate a little money to a charity and sample a bunch of great beer.

Participants include Lagunitas , Greenbush , Great Lakes, Stone and local brewers such as 5 Rabbit, Two Brothers, Limestone Restaurant and Brewery, Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery, Haymarket Pub and Brewery and Finch's Beer Co. There's also free food from Nacional 27, Wow Bao and others.

Hop to it

In November, the Beer Hoptacular returns to the Aragon Ballroom for a second consecutive year.

The festival features craft brews from across the United States, including Dogfish Head and Crispin Cider, plus local brewers such as the Lucky Monk, Half Acre and Piece. Last year, 38 breweries showed up with more than 100 beers, and Honky Tonk BBQ served up some dynamite 'cue and candied bacon.

And, is there a cooler venue for a beer festival than the delightfully worn, Baroque barn off Broadway?

After an afternoon or evening of sampling some very flavorful beers at the Aragon, you might have a hankering for a sit-down meal. Head around the corner to Marigold, 4832 N. Broadway, for some delicately spiced, accessible and satisfying Indian food.

You probably will have had enough of full-bodied beers by then, but to keep the theme going, pair your food with a light and crisp Kingfisher lager or a Maharaja pilsner. Either one will go great with the food and with the other beers you've quaffed.

Flying to Munich for a beer festival would be nice, but there is something to be said for having so many beer options available in one place so close to home. Plus, this way, you get to sleep it off in your own bed - the thing you miss most when you're traveling.

Michael Austin is a Chicago free-lance writer. E-mail

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