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beer

On Thursday, May 14, Chicago kicked off its annual Craft Beer Week to celebrate some of the Windy City’s finest independent breweries and the endless varieties of stouts, IPAs, witbiers and pale ales they offer.

According to My Fox Chicago, this year’s 10-day celebration features more than 400 different events throughout Chicago and its suburbs, from beer tastings to competitions to determine the best brew of them all.

This year, beer enthusiasts can even check out which microbrews are most popular in each of Chicago’s many iconic neighborhoods with an interactive map developed by Lakeshore Beverage just for Craft Beer Week. For example, Lakeview residents prefer fruity beers, while those living in the West Side Austin neighborhood love a good cider.

“Beer is very social. Bars are very social,” explained Chris Kolodziej of Lakeshore Beverage. “So we might have some people who really enjoy porters and are recommending them to their friends, and that style just kind of grows within a neighborhood,” Kolodziej said.

Chicago’s many craft beer breweries are just a small part of the booming national craft beer scene — over recent years, craft beer has become a $14.3 billion industry as more people prefer to drink more unique, locally made and higher-quality brews.

With massive events like Craft Beer Week, more and more people become exposed to the superior drinking experience that craft beers offer each year.

“We want to expose more and more people to craft beers,” said Doug Isley, co-owner of Aurora’s Hopvine Brewing Company, of craft beer’s growth. “There are a lot people who’ve already jumped onto that bandwagon, but there are a lot of macro beer drinkers who haven’t tried it yet. There are wine drinkers who don’t know the variety of flavors that are out there. The best way to do it is with various events.”

Chicago Craft Beer Week 2015 will come to a close on May 23 at the Welles Park Craft Beer Festival, where 50 of the city’s best independent breweries will have their finest brews on tap.

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