Chicago Real Ale Festival on Hiatus for 2004

Despite the best efforts of festival organizers, Chicago will not be having its well-known Real Ale Festival in 2004. A smaller, alternative celebration of real ale is planned for the weekend (March 4-6) on which the 2004 edition of the festival was originally scheduled. Festival organizers will announce details soon. The organizers had planned to run the festival in the Finkl building, at the site of a Chicago steel mill, where the festival had a successful run in 2003. However, City of Chicago authorities were no longer willing to grant special event licenses for the Finkl space, and the venue has no on-premises license of its own, and would not be likely to secure one in time for the planned weekend of the Real Ale Festival. Organizers hope to bring the festival back during the first March weekend of 2005, either at Finkl or some alternate location in or near Chicago. As an alternative, a real ale party has been planned for the weekend of March 4-6, 2004, open to any and all comers. Organizers hope to work with Chicago brewpubs and bars such as Goose Island, Rock Bottom, the Map Room, and other venues, to find homes for as many great real ales as possible. Organizers are also looking to run buses on a circuit to the various sites and create America’s biggest real ale pub-crawl. For further information and updates, see the festival web site at

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