A Comprehensive Guide to the Lake County Libation Trail 2023

By: Jonathan Jones 02/10/2023

"I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all. So tell me, why shouldn't it be true? I get a kick out of brew." - the late libation lover Daniel Dumile otherwise known as MF DOOM.

The Lake County Libation Trail/Check-in Challenge has officially kicked off. The brew, spirit and vino fest runs throughout February.

@visitlakecounty Toast to #LetsGoLakeCounty Libation Trail Month running throughout Feb. Click the ? in the bio to check in and win???! #LCLibationTrail ♬ Sip (Alcohol) - Joeboy

The Lake County Libation Trail is home to 30+ sudseries, wineries and nine of them serve exceptional eats. Surely irresistible Lake County breweries can’t account for all of the bountiful treats these makers create and distribute. Still, it gives you a fantastic overview of the plethora of flavors to quench your thirst.

Guests who “Check-In” at five or more locations between Feb. 1-28 will be eligible for a drawing, where 50 people will win a new Libation Trail Roster Shirt. The long-sleeved 100% cotton shirt lists all the Libation Trail partner locations to visit this year. Once 50 names are drawn after March 1, winners who respond to email notification with their name and mailing address within seven days will be awarded a shirt to wear proudly. Give a toastess to the hostess with the mostest yeast at their facilities.

Bottoms up as we  look at a comprehensive guide to the Lake County Libation Trail.

Mickey Finn's Brewery in Libertyville

 

 

 

 

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The first craft brewery in the land of lakes is Mickey Finn’s Brewery in Libertyville. Illinois’ oldest brewpub serves up a ton of house-made ales and lagers as well as eats. The 1994-established suds haven has served over six million-plus pints. The facility sits in their industrial/renovated home on MainStreet Libertyville. Currently, Mickey Finn has 18 of their homemade brews on tap. The Libertyville business is known for its Santa’s Magic Belgian Strong Golden Ale, Can I Kick It IPA, Pineapple Express and an array of other rotating sips. Mickey Finn’s serves brunch (weekends only), lunch and dinner, including salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, seafood, tacos and thin-crust pizza. 

Glunz Family Winery & Cellars in Grayslake

 

 

 

 

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Four generations of Glunz’s have operated a business in libationing. The Glunz family landed in the states in 1879 and opened a wine, beer and spirit store on Wells and Division Streets in Chicago's Old Town in 1888. In 1992, the third-generation descendants began creating small-batch fortified wines and the rest is history. Not only does the family own a winery and tasting room in Grayslake, but also in wine country on 20 acres of land in Paso Robles, California, where they grow much of the drinkables. Descendants from the Glunz family have also run that same shop in Chicago for the last 130 years. The Grayslake/Paso Robles family winery has earned myriad awards for its offerings.

Wild Onion Brewery & Banquets in Lake Barrington 

 

 

 

 

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This English-style pub and local favorite has been a staple in southwestern Lake County since 1997. One of Chicagoland's early craft brewing pioneers creates handcrafted beers and hearty comfort food. The Lake Barrington brewery’s philosophy is firmly grounded in a passion and respect for many world-class beer styles in today’s brewing renaissance. The sudsery's founding brewer Mike Kainz was drawn to brewing because of stories his father spoke on of the Kainz Dairy on Mohawk Street in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood that his father, Joe had run. The Kainz family began fermenting their beer in milk tanks as fate pulled them in Mike in this direction. Wild Onion beers are now distributed throughout the Chicagoland area, in addition to five other states.

Valentino's Vineyards and Winery in Long Grove

 

 

 

 

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The 20+ year, award-winning winemakers grow and produce berries and wines on the Long Grove estate. Boasting over 20 different grapevines that produce more than 20 vinos, Valentino’s Vineyard creates all of its libations in French and American oak barrels. The Lake County vino maker Rudy DiTommaso has accumulated over 40 accolades for their wines. Valentinos is closed for the winter, but they reopen their tasting room from May-December. In addition, a vineyard tour, wine tasting and vino appreciation seminar is offered by appointment. In the winter, Valentino occasionally sells fresh-cut fir holiday arbors.

North Shore Distillery in Green Oaks 

 

 

 

 

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North Shore Distillery is the first craft distillery in the Land of Lincoln (the first to open in Illinois since the Prohibition Era). Since 2004, Derek and Sonja Kassebaum (and their larger-than-life friend Ethel) provide vodkas, rums, gins, absinthes and unique seasonal beverages. The self-proclaimed nerds and Illinois-Made inventors love to experiment with new flavors with a plethora of different ingredients, and that’s why the award-winning Green Oaks distillery designs innovative art with its liquid creations. Sonja was featured in the article "Chemists, Bartenders and British Royalty: Eight Women Who Changed Gin History" by the Wine Enthusiast. Click here to learn more. The Green Oaks distillery was also honored with the Illinois Office of Tourism honor of "Illinois Made" recognizing the state's makers, creators, artisans, artists, family-owned businesses and more. During the height of the pandemic in April 2020, the husband-wife team got their hands wet in the hand sanitizer-making business, providing requests to first responders, health care workers and others providing critical care. Sonja collaborated with VLC and created Lake County Sunset Sips. This beverage concoction is as refreshing and beautiful as a Lake County sunset: sweet, fruity and closes with a crisp finish.

Lynfred Winery Wheeling and Highland Park

 

 

 

 

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Illinois's eldest winery is Lynfred, which recently celebrated 40+ years in operation. A hobby that turned into a full-fledged business was founded by Fred E. Koehler, also known as the father of the Illinois wine industry. The Lake County vino tasting room has earned awards and national recognition since 1985. Lynfred has five locations: Roselle, Wheeling, Wheaton, Naperville and just last year, a second location in Highland Park. The Wheeling room has been open since 2008 and is known for favorites like Fred's Red, Vin de City White and many other eclectic flavors.

Vigneto del Bino Winery and Vineyards in Antioch

 

 

 

 

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The Lake County Libation Trail partner Vigneto del Bino Vineyard and Winery offers nine different types of wines at their scenic establishment. The winery sits on one acre of a 10-acre property surrounded by 2,300 grapevines. The Trombino family planted their first vine in 2009, and they haven't looked back. The winery resides in Antioch and features exceptional vinos like Bino's BLend (semi-dry red table wine), the Sequoit Red (red table wine), the Kaleidoscope (semi-sweet white table wine) and others. Salud to vino!

Tighthead Brewing Co. in Mundelein

 

 

 

 

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The Mundelein, brewhouse is dedicated to crafting exceptional suds for all seasons. Tighthead Brewery is highlighted by a taproom and offers tours. Sample first-class flights like the award-winning Scarlet > Fire Irish-Style Red Ale, the Boxcar Porter and the Irie IPA, to name a few.  The decade-old neighborhood institution poured its heart and soul into each glass. Tighthead has partnered with Lake County establishments to concoct a few libations like Wright's Brew and Bistro's Five Eyes Honey Ale and the Lake County Forest Preserves District's limited edition Greenway Boogie IPA commemorating the Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway and most recently, the February 2023 libation of the month with Mickey Finn's Brewery in Libertyville creating "Smokin' Buddies." In 2017, the brewhouse was inducted into the Illinois Makers program, sharing that distinction with two other Lake County Libation Trail partners.

ZümBier Brewery in Waukegan

 

 

 

 

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The Waukegan brewery created innovative bier along with traditional to-style bier. The city brewhouse concocts various beers and has a changing lineup on 13 rotating taps. Zümbier is a family-run business and Larry Bloom, Founder and Biermeister, wants your journey in beer exploration to be inspirational. The Waukegan brewhouse offers cans, bottles and growler/howler refills. The Waukegan brew home also has a patio area equipped with bonfire pits.

Light the Lamp Brewery in Grayslake

 

 

 

 

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This downtown Grayslake pub serves innovative brews, modern American cuisine, locally sourced craft spirits and top-notch draft wines, all handcrafted in-house. Light the Lamp has 14 craft suds drafts created internally. For those who aren’t beer lovers, the seven-year-old Grayslake brewpub also offers tap wine. Besides libations, the hockey-themed also offers memorable meals, including burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, shared plates, bowls and desserts. Some of Light the Lamp’s signature suds include the Red Line Ale (amber ale), Sin Bout Stout (oatmeal stout) and the 1980 Miracle American Pale Ale Kick back, relax and let that lettuce down.

Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich

 

 

 

 

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The Lake Zurich distillery puts the L in “gimme a liddle fiddle.” Copper Fiddle created small-batch gin and other spirits in 2012. The distillery’s story derives from a family heirloom passed down from generation – that heirloom being a violin. This 1906 musical instrument’s sound is what the Lake Zurich distillery utilized as a metaphor for the smoothness of their gin and bourbon whiskey. The “Illinois-Made” recipient creates each drink from scratch. Copper Fiddle offers gins, rums, and bourbon whiskeys. For their superior drinks, Copper Fiddle has achieved two American Craft Spirit Awards and an American Distilling Institute Award. In 2020, Copper Fiddle also added vodkas to its repertoire. At the beginning of the pandemic, the distillery provided nearly 100 bottles of sanitizer for police and fire departments in the area. It usually takes around seven days to make a supply, but the Lake County Libation Trail team utilized 45 cases of unsold bottles of rum to accelerate the process.

Bosacki's Brewery in Mundelein

 

 

 

 

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Bosacki’s Brewery (formerly known as Bosacki’s Home Brew/Microbrewery) is a local microbrewery serving traditional and historic ales and lagers. Fresh liquified hops are available in growlers to take home and share with family and friends. In 2013, brewer and owner Greg Bosacki opened his establishment, but not before over a decade of prep work, as he was given a basic homebrew kit by his wife, Brigitte. The mission of Bosacki’s is the importance of sharing with family and friends. It is really a family affair at the Mundelein brewhouse. Bosacki features 12 libations on tap. You can take home 32 and 64-ounce growlers for later consumption. Bosacki’s also hosts a plethora of food trucks throughout the year. 

Half Day Brewing Co. in Lincolnshire 

 

 

 

 

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Savor the flavor of an extensive beer list at the Lincolnshire Brewery. The brewery commemorates the town’s real name, Halfda, contrary to popular belief of a half-day’s journey from Chicago. The village chief, Chief Aptakisic of the Potawatomi tribe, was a Native American leader known for making the Treaty of Chicago in 1833 surrounding the Black Hawk War. And now, we move to the present. The seven-year-old Lincolnshire brewpub frequently swaps out and adds new delicious craft flavors. Some of their lauded beers include Chieftain Session IPA, the Meridian Wit and their marquee beverage, the Barrel-Aged Warrior Paint Imperial Coffee Stout. Award-winning wings, wood-fired pizza, tacos, burgers, sandwiches and a host of other delectable bites highlight their eats menus.

Buffalo Creek Brewing Co. in Long Grove

 

 

 

 

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Buffalo Creek Brewing in Historic Downtown Long Grove has something extra brewing every weekend.  The Lake County destination brewery, well-known for its Bavarian-style brew, features a tasting room, deck and gazebo. Brewmeister and owner Mike Marr puts a little magic in his libations as he produces 10 unique beers. The award-winning brewery is known for its 42K Belgian Strong Ale, Marrvelous German-Style Kölsch, Xerxes Chocolate Bacon Stout and more. The Long Grove brew lodge just opened their Alpine Biergarten.. The picturesque backyard offers a great opportunity to taste handcrafted brews outdoors in a cozy, intimate setting. The Historic Downtown Long Grove, Lake County Libation Trail partner offers six stocked firepits, patio and barrel table heat lamps, sheepskin seat covers, twinkle lighting and over two acres of winter wonderland to explore.

Roaring Table Brewery in Lake Zurich

 

 

 

 

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Roaring Table brings a cozy taproom and an eclectic menu of fresh, hand-made craft beers to the land of lakes. The 2020 USA Today 10Best winner for "Best New Brewery" is a small batch brewhouse showcasing options ranging from dry and expressive farmhouse ales to refreshing and straightforward lagers. Roaring Table also offers several ciders, hard seltzers, sodas and snacks. They sell snacks in-house, but you can also take in the eats in Lake Zurich's foodie scene.

Ravinia Brewing Co. in Highland Park

 

 

 

 

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The Highland Park brewery features a variety of beers in addition to Mexican street fare like tacos, burritos, salads and more. The brewpub was recognized as the “Best Beer Garden” by the North Shore Choice Awards. Their trademark libations includes the Flight of the Rooster Saison, the Steep Ravine IPA and the Baldwin Porter. Enjoy a few brews compliments of the Highland Park Libation Trail stop, but you can also experience the same brews in the Windy City as they opened a second location in the Logan Square neighborhood.

 

Harbor Brewing Co. in Winthrop Harbor, North Point Marina and Lake Villa

 

 

 

 

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The Winthrop Harbor microbrewery produces adventurous ales. The Lake County suds maker is also highlighted by a taproom, beercade and live music. Since 2018, Habor Brewing has taken innovative flavors and created exceptional libations. The Lake Michigan bordering brewhouse offers 12 different potables on tap. Over the summer of 2020, Harbor Brewing Co., in partnership with North Point Marina, opened the land of lakes’ first beer garden. The Lakefront Biergarten will reopen on April 30, highlighted by scenic views of Lake Michigan, outdoor live tunes and their renowned adult beverages. Harbor also serves to carry out four packs and sixers to brew lovers. The beer brand also opened a third location in Lake Villa in 2021. This third brewspot shares a location with 9th Hour Brewing Co.

Nightshade and Dark's Pandemonium Brewing Co. in Waukegan

 

 

 

 

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The Ray Bradbury-themed Waukegan brewhouse is a part of the Lake County Libation Trail. The Waukegan suds factory boasts 20 traditional and experimental brews and creates adult beverages on-site. In addition, the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" brewery shares a co-location with Oppidan Spirits Distillery. The Waukegan brewer will offer 32-ounce crowlers and packs of bottles for carry-out, but Nightshade is also open for outdoor sips in the summertime.

28 Mile Distilling Co. in Highwood

 

 

 

 

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The Highwood facility is the north shore’s premier distillery and lounge. The Lake County Libation Trail participant is donned in art décor (you’ll feel like you’re in a 1920s speakeasy) and has a large garden for live performances. Twenty-eight Mile Vodka also offers space for private parties and tours of the distillery, not to mention a ton of live shows are happening at this venue. The Highwood drinkery has an unbelievable backstory of how these crafters came up with the name and logo of their distillery. The Debonair (the woman on their logo) was a real-life queen during the Prohibition Era. Twenty-eight Mile Vodka also just earned a MicroLiquor Spirit 2019 Triple Gold Award for Extraordinary Taste and Highest Recommendation. The distillery recorded accolades for its liquor and was pivotal during the height of the pandemic as they supplied first-responders with hand sanitizer. 

Phase Three Brewing Co. in Lake Zurich

 

 

 

 

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Lake Zurich is home to a slew of stops o the libation trail, including Roaring Table Brewery and Copper Fiddle Distillery. The Lake County brewpub was founded in March 2019 by Evan Morris and husband and wife duet head brewers Shaun and Britanny Berns. The three ran the decade-long Ram Brewery in Schaumburg that has since closed, but the three had some unfinished business. The Lake Zurich brewery every falll releases its renowned Affy Tapple-infused beer called a Bushel of Apples. They also release a ton of other inspirational suds, with really cool artwork.

Liquid Love Brewing Co. in Buffalo Grove

 

 

 

 

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Heart and Arterial Alchemy is what makes this liquid love world go round. The Buffalo Grove brewery is dedicated to collaborating and providing suds with the best ingredients, boldest flavor and attention to detail. The southwestern Lake County brewery has eight delectable brews on tap, including Choccy Cherry Cheesecake, Rainbow Tubs, hard seltzers, beer slushies and more. Visit "the Loveshack" through the challenge and beyond.

Oppidan Spirits in Waukegan

 

 

 

 

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The Waukegan facility specializing in gin and whiskey shares a location with Nightshade and Dark's Pandemonium Brewing Co., but the spirits are created in Wheeling. The Lake County Libation Trail participant creates decadent beverages for the modern townsman, by the modern townsman. The award-winning distillery has notched a slew of awards for its gin – specifically the Reserve Old Tom Gin and American Botanical Gin. The American Gin from Oppidan Spirits contains grapefruit, elderflower and hibiscus for a light floral nose. The superbly balanced gin tastes exceptionally neat, or with the complement of a cocktail. 

Black Lung Brewing Co. in Round Lake Beach

 

 

 

 

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This brewery is a blue-collar sudsery. However, the Round Lake Beach brewpub's story is bubbling in tradition and family roots. The year-old drinking hole began nearly five years ago in a Grayslake garage. The positive feedback from family and friends encouraged Josh Grubbs, the brewmaster and owner, to open a brick-and-mortar taproom in northwestern Lake County. The Round Lake Beach facility reflects its homebrew roots with a rotating 12-beer tap.

9th Hour Brewing Co. in Lake Villa

 

 

 

 

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Ninth Hour Brewing Co. is a community-supported brewspot run by owners, Dave and Jim, who discovered their shared passion for brewing while teaching together at Lakes Community High School. One of the core values of their team is education. In addition to traditional tours, 9th Hour will offer its guests classes on various brewing-related topics. They've brewed 21 staple suds prior to their grand opening on January 14, 2022.

 

Broken Tee Brewing Co. in Highwood 

 

 

 

 

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The Highwood brewpub is the Lake County Libation Trail's newest partner: Broken Tee Brewing Co. (BTBC).  BTBC is located in the heart of downtown Highwood. and takes its theme from the owner's past profession as a golf pro. The sudsery offers nine homemade brews on tap, like Shankopotoumus, SWING Hard, Pin High and more. BTBC also offers small plated eats like sandwiches, tacos, charcuteries and more. Visit on Tuesdays, and get your Nintendo nostalgia at Retro Game Nights.

Wright's Brew & Bistro in Lincolnshire

 

 

 

 

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Offering a casual dining experience that is exceptional is Wright’s Brew and Bistro, located inside the Lincolnshire Marriott. The Lincolnshire bar and restaurant provides the honey to Five Eyes Honey Ale brewed by another Lake County Libation Trail partner, Tighthead Brewery in Mundelein. In the fare department, Wright’s serves traditional Midwest comfort food with a modern twist of spices.

Pazzo di Vino in Highwood

 

 

 

 

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The DiVito family perfected the winemaking recipe as the southern Lake County winery crushes, ferments, ages and bottles the berry beverage onsite. Pazzo di Vino has an expansive outdoor patio, tasting room, artistic gallery room, and they also serve small tasty plates complemented by live music. Unfortunately, the vino spot is closed throughout February but opens in March.


To find out how you check in to win, continue here. To view all of the Lake County Libation Trail happenings, click here. To see the brews, cocktails and vinos featured on our Libation of the Month highlights, continue here. 

 

 

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