No shortage of new experiences on the Lake County Libation Trail
The 20 businesses that make up the Lake County Libation Trail include an Antioch winery, a Green Oaks distillery and breweries that stretch from Lake Zurich to Winthrop Harbor.
Though they differ in size and mission, they all produce alcoholic beverages that showcase the wine, beer and spirits the area has to offer.
Each place has its own story -- and a good reason for locals and tourists to stop by. That's why John Maguire, business and community development manager for Visit Lake County, said officials are sending videographers to each establishment to capture what makes them unique.
Some, like Glunz Family Winery and Cellars in Grayslake, have a long history. In 1888, Louis Glunz set up shop as a wine, beer and spirit merchant in Chicago. In 1992, the family established a vineyard in Grayslake. Today, the winery is located on 20 acres in Paso Robles, California, but the family still sells Glunz wine at the Grayslake location.
Others are new businesses crafting products in the county. Among those are Lane Fearing and Beth May, the husband-and-wife team that opened Roaring Table Brewery in Lake Zurich in August 2017. They serve an eclectic, constantly changing mix of beer at their taproom.
"We don't have flagship beers," said May, referring to the term for beers that are nearly always in stock. "We are untraditional in the way we do things."
Another husband-and-wife team, meanwhile, created North Shore Distillery in Green Oaks. When Derek and Sonja Kassebaum started back in 2004, they were launching the first craft distillery in Illinois. Ever since, they've produced award-winning spirits with the help of Ethel, their custom-made 60-gallon still. The spirits experts at the Beverage Tasting Institute gave North Shore's "Distiller's Gin No. 6" a rating of 95 out of 100.
There are other nationally recognized stops on the trail, including Tighthead Brewing Company in Mundelein. Tighthead Brewing became perhaps the most celebrated of the Lake County beer makers after earning a gold medal at last year's prestigious Great American Beer Festival in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to the gold medal winner, an Irish-Style Red Ale called Scarlet Fire, Tighthead typically has five other flagship beers on tap and many seasonal offerings including We Be Yammin' -- a Sweet Potato Ale.
A happy byproduct of having so many talented craftspeople in the Lake County community is that they often work together. Brandon Boshers, brewmaster for Half Day Brewing Company, said his brewery recently partnered up with another suburban brewery to create a special Horchata-style white stout with rice, lactose, vanilla and cinnamon called Jerarca De Leche. He said they have collaborations scheduled with their friends at Roaring Table in Lake Zurich, Light the Lamp Brewery in Grayslake and Only Child Brewing in Gurnee.
"Lake County has a growing beer scene that is cranking out some fantastic beers," Boshers said. "I know all of the brewers here in Lake County personally, and we are always lending each other a hand when needed."
And new breweries, wineries and distilleries are being added to the Lake County business community all the time.
"It's a work in motion," Maguire said. "We hear about new breweries and distilleries opening every month. We expect three or four to open this year in Lake County."
The first event on the Libation Trail calendar is a guided tour of Half Day Brewing, Roaring Table and Tighthead Brewing on Sunday, Jan. 27. Tickets for the Lake County Libation Trail Tastin' Tour are $69.95 and Visit Lake County and the Daily Herald are hosting an opportunity for two free tickets (to those 21 and older) at events.dailyherald.com.
And on Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Daily Herald will host the Libation Trail VIP reception at Light the Lamp Brewery in Grayslake, which will be available to 15 runners-up (21 and older).
Visitors also can head out on their own. Here is a list of all the stops on the Libation Trail:
Bosacki's Home Brew: 610 E. Hawley St., Mundelein, bosackishomebrew.com: Tasting room providing a variety of beers with an emphasis on take-home brews. Tasting food events, too.
Buffalo Creek Brewing: 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove, buffalocreekbrewing.com: Specializing in German and Belgian-style beer. Relax in a Bavarian-style taproom in historic downtown Long Grove.
Flesk Brewing Company: 200 Applebee St., Suite E, Barrington, fleskbrewing.com: A brewpub located in Barrington's Ice House Mall, Flesk is laid-back and dog-friendly with live music, food trucks, trivia and other special events.
Half Day Brewing Co.: 200 Village Green, Lincolnshire, halfdaybrewing.com: Savor an extensive list of house beers and craft brews on tap with a gastropub menu and a sprawling patio.
Light the Lamp Brewery: 2 S. Lake St., Grayslake, lightthelampbrewery.com: Light the Lamp Brewery is located in downtown Grayslake. Serving beer, food and cocktails, all handcrafted in house.
Mickey Finn's Brewery: 345 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, mickeyfinnsbrewery.com: Lake County's first brewpub serving unique handcrafted ales and lagers. Plus food and live music on the weekend.
The Onion Pub & Brewery: 2221 N. Pepper Road, Barrington, onionpub.com: Old-world architecture in a modern facility features a pub, restaurant, banquet rooms and complete brewery with handcrafted lagers and ales all brewed on site.
Only Child Brewing: 1350 Tri State Parkway Suite 124, Gurnee, onlychildbrewing.com: Brewery and tasting room, creating unique beers and offering a family- and dog-friendly space.
Ravinia Brewing Co.: 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, raviniabrewing.com: Cozy taproom and taco bar located in the historic Ravinia District features beer, live music and an expansive beer garden.
Roaring Table Brewing Co.: 739 W. Route 22, Lake Zurich, roaringtable.com: Beer brewed on-site in small batches -- reflecting home-brew roots and paying tribute to a wide variety of influences.
Tighthead Brewing Company: 161 N. Archer Ave., Mundelein, tightheadbrewing.com: An award-winning Mundelein brewing company that is dedicated to crafting quality suds for all seasons.
Wright's Brew & Bistro: at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, chicagomarriottlincolnshire.com: Rotating craft brews including Honey Badger Ale, brewed exclusively in Lake Bluff for Wright's.
Zumbier: 3232 W. Monroe Ave., Waukegan, zumbier.com: Zumbier is known as the "bier experience" with a wide selection of beers on 13 rotating taps, including a favorite, Super Chong. Take it to-go, too, in bottles and howler/growler fills.
Gold Pyramid Vodka at The Club Tiki: 3500 Sunset Ave., Waukegan: Home to small-batch distilled Gold Pyramid Vodka, made from the legendary Gold Pyramid House waters.
Copper Fiddle Distillery: 532 W. Route 22, Lake Zurich, copperfiddledistillery.com: Serving bourbon and award-winning Fiddle Gin and Tom Gin. Products are handmade, grain to bottle, in Lake Zurich.
North Shore Distillery: 13990 Rockland Road, Green Oaks, northshoredistillery.com: Award-winning spirits and cocktails. Includes cocktail classes, events and more.
Lake County is home to a few wineries along its Libation Trail, include Vigneto del Bino Winery in Antioch.
- Daily Herald file photo
Glunz Family Winery & Cellars: 888 E. Belvidere Road, Grayslake, gfwc.com: Spanning four generations since 1888, the Glunz family makes several award-winning wines.
Lynfred Winery: 971 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, lynfredwinery.com: Tasting room features flights and pairings, plus there's a wine shop. Wine events year-round.
Valentino Vineyards: 5175 Aptakisic Road, Long Grove, valentinovineyards.com: Taste 20 different types of wine and tour this 20-acre estate vineyard. Open May through December.
Vigneto del Bino Vineyard & Winery: 42150 N. Crawford Road, Antioch, vignetodelbino.com: From the fruit of the vines of this 10-acre boutique winery come award-winning reds and whites. Tasting room and gift shop.