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.
Though the Two Brothers Summer Festival might seem like an excuse to celebrate the warm weather, it also serves a second, noble purpose. Devised by the brewery's founders, the Ebel brothers, this week-long event supports the local and regional community, philanthropic programs, and a growing number of charities. Over the past 17 years, the company has been supporting children's charities, such as granting wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
On Saturday, bands take to the stage at Two Brothers Roundhouse as part of a lineup that includes the group Los Lobos, Cornmeal, and Chicago indie-rock duo Autumn Defense. Activities for kids, including a show from performer Ralph's World, ensure that even the youngest visitors aren't left out. One of the weekend's other big events is a homebrewing competition. The winner's recipe will be brewed at Two Brothers.
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.
Harrison's Restaurant & Brewery has been pleasing palates with a menu of comforting pub fare and handcrafted beer for more than 14 years. After toasting with chilled glasses of hoppy Millennium pale ale or fruity raspberry wheat, diners chat or recite favorite Golden Girls quotes over savory appetizers such as Harrison's platter––a sampling of hot wings, ribs, potato skins, and nachos. Entree-sized appetites seek solace in a plate of baby back ribs, slow roasted with chipotle barbecue sauce and a hint of Harrison's Black Diamond stout, or a 24-ounce porterhouse broiled to order. A dozen different sandwich options fend off hunger pains with the 10-ounce char-grilled burger, grilled mahi served on a caper mayo-smothered pretzel bun, and a brat marinated in Harrison's red ale then topped with grainy mustard and served on a french baguette that's as soft as a gummy bear's dreams.
Village Vintner Winery & Brewery poses a gastronomic triple threat, operating as not just a restaurant and winery, but also a fully functioning brewery. A battalion of stainless-steel machinery ferments the hand-selected wheat and barley that make up the vanilla-cream ale, the German-style hefeweizen, and the Vintner Hop Rocket, an 8.2% ABV varietal culminating from six types of hops and mad, mad science. At the tasting bar, guests can sample these brewery end products, along with Village Vintner’s expansive selection of homemade red, white, and fruit wines. The main restaurant area houses a wood-fired pizza oven, which bakes the pesto pizzas and smoldering baby back ribs that complement potables.
A spirit of good-natured fun permeates the copper-hued premises, as evidenced by a free monthly wine and mug club. Live music is a common occurrence on Friday nights, and Wednesdays star Chef Rob’s pork special.