The Heritage Corridor Ale Trail is a multi-county pub crawl that covers craft breweries in Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties. There are a couple of bonus breweries off the beaten path down near Starved Rock as well. The Ale Trail creates a Passport every May and challenges the beer connoisseur to visit as many establishments (26 at last count) as possible by December 31.
First, the Passport is completely digital this year. In the past, it was a booklet that you would have to remember to bring with you. The brewery would then give you a sticker with a purchase. Now, it is an app where you “check in” at each location (with the purchase of a beverage). “Checking in” requires a 4-digit code that the brewer will give you upon purchase. Some breweries just have the “check in”, while others might offer a bonus.
Second – there are prizes! If you hit ten different breweries, you will receive a “Certified Beer Explorer” Pint Glass. If you visit 20 different locations, you will receive a “Master Beer Explorer” Barrell Bag. Not sure what this is but I want one.
Our first stop along the Ale Trail was Miskatonic Brewing Company in Darien, IL. Miskatonic opened its doors to the public in 2015. In an article about the brewery, published in 2017, Brewery Manager Josh Mowry explains that the company name Miskatonic is “a fictional place out of the stories by a long-dead author named H.P. Lovecraft”. One of my favorite things about this establishment is its logo. Mowry goes on to describe this creation: “Lovecraft liked to write about things that seemed normal, until it got very, very weird. Our Victorian lady (we call her Cecilia) starts off normal, but by the time your eyes take in the whole silhouette, everything gets weird.” How uniquely weird is this?
The interior itself is pretty great for hanging out. The main room is darker, with high top tables and come cool graffiti on the wall.
They also have a smaller, well-lit room on the side with regular tables. There are board games available for fun and you are welcome to either bring food in with you or order food from a local restaurant.
You can also take a tour of the brewery and there is a Groupon available for that. My friend, Ruta, had a Groupon with her that night for $15.00 for 2 flights of five 5-ounce pours. Not sure how often that one pops up, but you should be on the look-out for it in the future. Ordering a flight is my favorite way of drinking at a brewery. Some beer descriptions sound good on paper, but the flavors don’t always translate into the actual taste of the ale. I have also been pleasantly surprised by a sample that I would not normally order.
In addition to the tour, Miskatonic hosts events throughout the year. Draft releases, music, trivia, and food trucks can all be found on their calendar.
So download your Passport and start working your way towards a prize. You might find a new watering hole or beverage you like along the way!