The 630 | Cold Brew

February 2018 View more

If anyone tells Josh Seago that he’s out of his mind to schedule a beer festival in the middle of winter in Northern Illinois, he has a ready answer.

“We’re from the Chicago area—it’s cold here four to five months of the year. After being in the house in December, January and early February, people get cabin fever and want to get out,” says Seago, who runs the Naperville Ale Fest Winter Edition through his company, Lou Dog Events. “The festival gives people an opportunity to get outside.”

The numbers back him up. About 5,000 people have attended the festival each of the last few years, enjoying offerings from several dozen breweries from across the country. This year’s event, which is the only full-scale outdoor beer festival in the state, will be from noon to 4:00 p.m. February 24 in a parking lot at Frontier Park in Naperville.

“We’ll have 75 brewers, over 150 beers, and food, coffee and donut vendors,” he says. “There’s nothing like this in the state anywhere.” There will also be live music.

Seago’s company also runs the Ale Fest’s Summer Edition, which offers lighter, easier-drinking beers. In contrast, the Winter Edition features stouts, porters and barrel-aged beers that are most often consumed in the colder months.

A new feature this year is a cask tent, which will feature specialty beers from six brewers: Hopvine, Pollyanna, Solemn Oath, Soundgrowler, Tangled Roots and Two Brothers. Brewers will include well-known national independent brands such as Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada, regional powerhouses like Bell’s, Founders, Half-Acre and Revolution plus hyperlocal operations including Naperville’s own Solemn Oath and Two Fools Cider.

“We try to have a nice selection of brewers from the greater Chicago area,” Seago says. “About half are from Chicago and Illinois. Also, they’re from the East Coast, West Coast and throughout the Midwest.”

Festival attendees are mostly from the west suburban area and city of Chicago, but they also come in from Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa.

Fortunately, weather hasn’t been a major factor one way or the other at the festival. It has ranged from a five-degree wind chill in 2017, to 45 degrees and sunny the year before.

But Seago isn’t sweating the possibility of a below-freezing day on February 24.

“As Chicagoans, it’s not a big deal to go outside when it’s 20 degrees,” Seago says.

For information or to purchase tickets, visit