C2E2 2023 Do’s and Don’ts
I’ve been to my fair share of pop culture conventions over the years. I started back in the late 1990s (back when they were mainly called comic book conventions) attending my first Wizard World at the Rosemont Convention Center. Since then, I’ve been to Wizard World the most (it was the only big game in town for a good 10-15 year period), San Diego Comic Con once, and countless beer festivals. But I’d never been to C2E2. I’ve been meaning to go since they had their first one in 2010, but it always seemed to run against something.
Typically held in late-March or April, the pandemic did a number on it. They (unknowing of the pandemic) held the 2020 fest in late February/early March, 10 days before all COVID hell broke loose in the United States. C2E2 2021 had to be pushed back to December (right around the Omicron wave for those keeping score), while 2022 moved to the summer months, specifically early August. Summer Craig’s there! Usually that would mean them holding it during the Great Taste of the Midwest weekend given my luck, but no! It was the weekend before! Praise the cosplay gods!
I finally got to attend C2E2, if only for one day. So here are some do’s and don’ts for the convention that can help you maximize your fun and time spent in the city.
DO: Stop at The Yard for Revolution Brewing
I can’t tell you how amazing it is that a brewery like Revolution pours at C2E2. It didn’t matter when I first started going to cons (couldn’t drink anyways) but once I got old enough I started noticing that beer offerings at cons sucked. Hard. And the prices were insane. Do I really want a $10 pour of Stella Artois? Or some 312 brewed in Baldwinsville, NY? Even when I wasn’t drinking craft it made more sense to go someplace after the con and have a few (which we’ll get to later). Revolution has changed that.
Revolution first started sponsoring C2E2 in 2012, only two years into C2E2’s – and Revolution’s – existence. Not only do they sponsor it, but they even brewed the official beer of the convention in Galaxy-Hero (now Infinity-Hero; more below). They host a cosplay party at the taproom that I’ve yet to attend and generally go all out promoting and sponsoring the convention. That giant Anti-Hero picture booth? That was at C2E2 first before it made its home at the taproom.
The Yard makes perfect sense for Revolution to set-up in. It has space, tables to sit down, and even trivia contests a few times a day. It should absolutely be your first stop (and your mid-point stop at least) to grab yourself a walking beer for the festival. And you have some options. Not only options, but quality options.
Hot damn – looks like a nice Revolution tap takeover at some bar! Not only are there 5 draft options (I have no idea what the taped over 6th one is), there are also 3 can options, optimal for walking the fest and not worrying about spilling. They’ve got you covered if you want something hoppy and bitter, something light and refreshing, or even something barrel-aged! That’s honestly unheard of, as I lobbied for some Deep Wood offerings at Guaranteed Rate Field while Revolution sponsored the #soxsocial room that never came to fruition. (I know the reasoning, but it’d still have been nice.) They even have Ryan’s 2022 Beer of the Year in Freedom Lemonade on draft!
Prices are in-line with festival and ballpark pricing. Drafts will set you back 65 cents an ounce, while cans sit at a premium of 68 cents per ounce. (A 16 ounce draft pour of Anti-Hero at the Revolution taproom is $7 coming in at 44 cents an ounce.) The barrel-aged Deth’s Tar will set you back $1.43 per ounce, which is in line with their specialty taps (one-offs and such) at the taproom.
The Yard should be your first stop, quarter stop, half stop, stop stop at C2E2. My only complaint was that I wish it was more centrally located (it was very close to the entrance and near the left end of the convention in 2022). Between having a bevy of delicious options available and reasonable convention pricing, you should have something in your hand for a majority of your time there. Thankfully the bathrooms were plentiful and centrally located!
DON’T: Drink 12 oz. of 14%+ ABV barrel-aged Deep Wood beer
I honestly thought that there was no way that one of Revolution’s Deep Wood beers would be pouring at C2E2. They were, so watch out. I can handle two 7 ounce pours, sip on it as I walk the floor, profit. Right?
Apparently I drink faster when I attend conventions. I’m assuming it’s muscle memory from so many beer festivals where things kick and there are timed tappings of limited beers. I was fine for the first hour or so of the con, but then it kicked in. It started with some wobbling and ended with me spending about an hour looking at Masters of the Universe Origin figures, unable to remember what I had just looked at. It’s not a problem at a beer festival because there’s no real transactions going on (outside of food purchases). Need to purchase something? Forget about it.
So 14 ounces of a 14.8% ABV barrel-aged stout did not go over so well on the festival floor. The temptation this year would be DB V.S.O.J. (clocking in at 16.8%) if it’s pouring but don’t. (Your choice to ruin your con if you want to do a chug video with the Power Rangers!) Too many ounces AND Revolution should have you covered with something barrel-aged available. By the way, I chugged Freedom Lemonade for the rest of my time at the con.
DO: Try Revolution’s new year-round IPA Infinity-Hero.
Up until last year, Galaxy-Hero was the official beer of C2E2. It was always available around convention time and showed up in their League of Heroes variety pack, on draft, and to-go at the taproom. Due to the craziness of C2E2 schedule recently (see above), it made more sense to go with a beer around all the time. Enter Infinity-Hero.
Looking a lot like Dr. Strange and riding that multiverse wave of that movie and Academy Award winning Best Picture Everything Everywhere All at Once, Infinity-Hero represents a universe clash of the classic, West Coast IPA and a Hazy IPA. It features Nectraron and Strata hops, as well as two hops so innovative that they don’t have proper names yet (HBC #586 and HBC #1019). Infinity-Hero pours closer to a classic IPA in that I can see right through it with no problem. The beer itself skews hazy IPA, with big cantaloupe and papaya botes and a soft mouthfeel. The finish brings about its classic IPA influence with a fair amount of bitter kick.
So the juiciness of hazy IPA with the bitterness of a classic IPA? Sounds like what we’re looking for on our Flagship Hazy IPA Blind Battle Royale! See if you can snag the special edition Infinity Hero comic (Issue #1 – should have Infinity Hero’s origin story!) while you’re at it.
DO: Interact with cosplayers
Yes, I’ve cosplayed at a convention – once. Someone dared me to do it and as far as I know it wasn’t called cosplay at the time. I went as Orko (from Masters of the Universe) and there were some issues, starting with the fact that I had a mask on where I couldn’t wear my glasses. (Length of robe and sweat were the others.) But it made it all worth it to interact with other conventioneers plus it was awesome if I ran into another person doing some Master of the Universe cosplay.
Definitely ask for a picture if you like either their character or their costume. Some of the costumes take a whole lot of time and are usually beyond accurate so the cosplayer is usually more than happy to chat for a bit. You’ll also never know who you’ll run into. Yeah, you’re going to run into most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Disney Princesses. But Polk High star running back Al Bundy? Bob Ross? And those are just the ones I took pictures of!
And while we’re on the subject of cosplaying, you should check out the League of Enchantment’s table while you’re there. They work with hospitals and community organizations and events to bring hope and smiles to kids by doing things like visiting them while they’re sick. It’s an awesome (and time consuming) thing they do that most people only do only while at conventions and festivals. Worth a stop.
DO: Walk the entirety of the convention floor.
Yes you’ll get lost and confused, but it’s worth it to see everything that the convention has to offer. Obviously the merchandise booths are must hits, especially if you like pop culture t-shirts and Funko pop figures. (My god the absurd amount of Funko pop booths.) But you’ll definitely find other, more interesting things, including Golden Girls cooking aprons, video game and anime weapon bottle openers, and 8-bit animated picture frames (guess what I bought last year!).
The place you really do need to stop in is the Artist Alley, featuring indie and local artists (and sometimes some of the big people) selling their wares and chatting with convention goers. You’ll definitely find something unique and interesting in this area that will interest you or a friend. Some of the artists will even offer commissions, making something even more unique and personal. Seriously, the coolest things that I usually walk away from a convention with come from the Artist Alley. Wander around and enjoy!
DON’T: Expect many comic book vendors
This might be a function of the COVID schedule the last few years, but the 2022 C2E2 severely lacked comic book vendors. I remember about 5 booths that had a majority of comic books for sale. I’m a balance is the key person so the outsized presence of Funko Pop vendors and t-shirt places was really disappointing. I came in looking for some specific comics and I unfortunately left empty handed. I know it’s a pop culture convention now but don’t forget your roots!
DO: Go to local breweries while you’re in town.
Now that you’ve had a fair amount of Revolution at C2E2, should you venture out to either the brewpub or taproom? While Revolution is at the top of that list, you’d need the means to get out there. (Half Acre is at the top too, but that’s even further and less accessible than Revolution from McCormick Place). If you have the ability and/or time to get to those places, by all means do so. But what about closer to the convention?
Luckily enough for you Duneyrr Fermenta Winery and Brewery is a short (and I mean very short) walk away. They focus on beer/wine hybrids that really push boundaries and is probably something not available near you if you’re not from Chicago. (Listen to our podcast with owner Tyler Davis for more!) If that’s not your thing, they also have their Moderne Dune side of things that focuses more on IPAs, stouts and lagers. Or basically not beer/wine hybrids. The taproom is cozy and rustic-looking, featuring a deer head and antlers as tap handles. Unique beers, a short walk (especially if you’re staying at one of the nearby hotels), and an interesting space make this worth the stop.
As a small bonus, Odious Cellars brews out of the Duneyrr space and they make some of, if not the, best sours in Chicago. Don’t get scared when I say sours, as the ones from Odious don’t feature enamel-stripping acidity or extreme puckering characteristics. Rather, Odious focuses more on easy to drink beers with interesting and unique ingredients – like a Biere de Maple that amazingly doesn’t go overboard on the maple. Any of their beers are worth a try and the artwork by Joana Fraga is absolutely beautiful. (Hey, we did a podcast with owner Reeve Joseph too!)
A little bit further away but still manageable (about a 7 minute rideshare) resides Lo Rez Brewing. Housed in a former industrial space, Lo Rez features more traditional Belgian styles of beer, including saisons and witbiers. They do have a couple IPAs and stouts on at all times, but you really want Daemon, their Belgian Golden Strong Ale. If that’s too strong for you, grab something from their Shortcut Berliner Weisse series.
There are even more breweries that are no further than a 15 minute rideshare away – providing Chicago traffic agrees with you that day. Whiner and Marz Community Brewing both reside in warehouse-like structures, with Marz additionally having a free play arcade room to boot. Whiner focuses on lighter beers and Belgian sours like Le Tub and Miaou, plus their artwork is a hoot. Marz does odd takes on traditional styles, like Jungle Boogie (wheat beer with rooibos tea) and Bubble Gumz (hazy pale ale with bubble gum tea); they still have traditional lagers, IPAs and stouts as well.
Going a little further unlocks Cruz Blanca and Haymarket in the West Loop and Goose Island, Midwest Coast, On Tour, Great Central and Forbidden Root in West Town. If you’re looking for food at any of these places, I’d recommend Cruz Blanca (Mexican) or Forbidden Root (elevated pub fare; burger is amazing and one of Chicago’s best).
DON’T: Buy food at the convention.
Yes, the convention has food. Yes, McCormick Place also has food. Unless you’re starving and really need something, better to skip or take a con break for some real food. The main vendors on the floor serve hot dogs, pizza, and churros. Churros are your best bet here as the hot dogs and pizza don’t really do anything special. It appears there’s a food court on the map this year. (I’m not sure if that’s outside food trucks or concentrated convention food.) Best to venture nearby for some good eats.
DO: Buy food outside of the convention.
For those looking for a wide variety of beer with some pub fare, hit Fatpour Tap Works in McCormick Place. While not something you’ll brag about food-wise, it is better than convention fare and you have an absurd amount of draught beer (32 taps). They also have Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout bottles for on-site consumption. Get whatever you want, but the best deals are the 2018 Vanilla ($35) and the 2018 Wheatwine ($26).
About as close as Duneyrr sits Apolonia. From Stephen Gillanders (owner of S.K.Y. in Pilsen), Apolonia focuses on Mediterranean fare. Need some small shareable plates for you and a bunch of friends? Toothpick Lamb and some Black Truffle Puff Bread have you covered. Fiorentini al Sugo or Grilled Mediterranean Branzino can round things out as your main course. Prices are only somewhat more than what’d you be paying at the convention. If you focus on the small, shareable plates, even less. Snag that reservation!
Not a Mediterranean food fan? Looking for a ton of options. Look at the West Loop and its insane amount of choices. Excellent food options such as Au Cheval (best burger in Chicago on numerous lists), Girl and the Goat and Duck Duck Goat (Stephanie Izard’s restaurants), JP Graziano, and Cruz Blanca litter the landscape in this area. Looking for finer dining? Too many to list. (Yes, I’m missing a ton.) If you’re looking for beer as well, Cruz Blanca should be your stop. They are one of the top Chicago breweries along with a taqueria menu that rivals anything out there. Get the tlayuda to share, some pints and a seat in the upper room and enjoy your night.
You can still purchase Comic VIP, Friday, and Sunday tickets for C2E2 as of this posting. Get them before they’re gone!