Visitors have an unusual transportation option for getting to Summer Solstice: if they get an early enough start, they can float up to the day of craft beer and concerts by canoe. As the Fox River ambles past the historic buildings of downtown Yorkville, it deposits a flotilla of revelers in Riverfront Park. Those who don’t want to paddle in are also allowed to arrive on foot or palanquin to enjoy the rootsy music and frosty brews of the fest, a collaboration between Rogue Barrister Records, Three Angels Brewing, and the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce.
When he wasn’t piloting a plane, Toby Beall spent time with his bare feet in the Caribbean sand and a cocktail mellowing in his hand. Looking to share that laid-back lifestyle, Beall, his wife Jillian and brother Jamey founded Tailwinds Distilling Company. Today, the Plainfield-based specialists blend premium ingredients such as organic molasses and 100% blue agave, and carefully age them in french-oak barrels to create their tropically-inspired amber rum. After the signature, small-batch distilling process—which avoids the use of carbon filters so as to leave the flavors intact—each bottle is individually signed. That attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed: their Taildragger white rum earned a silver medal at the 2012 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition, and their 100% blue agave spirit was featured in Chicago Magazine's Holiday 2012 Gift Guide: For Imbibers.
Visitors can take a jetlag-free trip to the tropics during tours of the facility, learning about distillation and sampling sips in a tiki-bar-themed tasting room. Merchandise such as T-shirts, snifters, and flasks provide more lasting souvenirs than the imaginary tan the island vibe might inspire.
In 1927, The Southland Ice Company’s icehouses were one of the few refuges from the searing Dallas heat and marauding bands of tumbleweeds. That same year, the company’s employees realized the frigid temperatures could also preserve items such as milk and eggs. Soon, as more items and services such as gasoline were gradually added to the operation, the company expanded to stores called Totem’s. To account for the boom in popularity, the stores were kept open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and to reflect these new hours, the store name was changed to 7-Eleven.
Today, 7-Eleven has nearly 50,000 locations in 16 countries. The stores are now open 24/7 and sell everything from iconic Slurpee and Big Gulp drinks to coffee, hot dogs, baked goods, and signature 7-Select products. The store’s involvement in the community matches its commitment to convenience, with generous charity donations and a pledge to the safe sale of age-restricted products.
Nestled inside its window-laden storefront is Fox Valley Homebrew & Winery Supplies, a cozy, personable shop for home brewers and winemakers. Here, DIY brewers and vintners of all levels can snag equipment and ingredients for their projects in the form of fermenters, wine yeast, and winemaking books that, if stomped on hard enough, produce a floral bouquet with balanced tannins.
Unsurprisingly, beer plays a big role at Nevin's Brewing Company. Their brewmeisters craft a panoply of suds that range from an IPA to a rich, hearty stout. When they finish a batch of ale, they could easily throw their spent grains away–unceremoniously in the garbage or ceremoniously on their 3,000th customer. Instead, they take their used barley and hops to local farmers, who use the nutrient-rich grains as compost for their fields and feed for their livestock. Later on, Nevin's chefs return to the very farms they nourished to buy beef and vegetables to make sustainably-crafted burgers, ribs, and salads that can be washed down with cool, refreshing beer.
With its massive selection of varietals and styles, Lynfred Winery seems determined to make something for almost any wine drinker. The cellar brims with everything from bold, spicy reds to crisp and refreshing whites, as well as fruit wines made from apples, cherries, rhubarb, and pears. The grapes arrive from vineyards throughout California and Washington state, although the rest of the fruit typically comes from a bit closer to home, including growers throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. Despite this variety, the staff's commitment to approachable, fruit-forward flavors characterizes virtually everything that the winery makes.
This dedication to easy drinking seems only natural given the winery's origins in a home basement. In 1975, Fred Koehler, along with his wife Lynn, decided to try to re-create the family wines his father and grandfather had made throughout the 1920s. The batches grew larger with each passing vintage, and, in 1979, Fred and Lynn chose to upgrade their homespun hobby into a commercial venture. Within six years, Lynfred Winery's creations began to appear in the national spotlight as they garnered awards and medals from wine competitions across the country. This attention allowed Fred to swell production even more, eventually expanding to a larger location in 1990.
Fred and Lynn's legacy continues to inspire the staff as they operate a facility that creates more than 100,000 gallons of wine each year using as many as 80 varietals. These wines appear on restaurant menus, on retail shelves, and inside fish tanks throughout the Chicagoland area.