The Craft Brew movement is thriving in Chicago, though it sometimes gets overshadowed with the success of Goose Island Brewery. A glass of 312 and a tour of the facilities at Goose Island (1800 N Clybourn Ave) is a great place to start, but there's so much more to savor in the city.
Half Acre Brewery (4257 North Lincoln Avenue) produces one of the finest IPA's in Chicago. If you're a hophead, then drop by the brewery to fill up on Daisy Cutter, done in the west coast style, or really amp things up with Double Daisy Cutter. Tours are available at the brewery, though you have to sign up months in advance. It's better to drop by their store, buy a growler and fill up.
Finch Beer Company (4565 North Elston Avenue), is a short ride away from Half Acre, but they are relatively new and haven't opened their doors to customers. If you want to sample their malty Golden Wing blonde ale or the citrus-y hops of Cut Throat, then look for them at local brewpubs. The Map Room (949 North Hoyne Avenue) and Hop Leaf (5148 N. Clark St.) are popular spots, others are listed on their site.
Revolution Brewery (2323 N Milwaukee Ave) not only brews beer, they serve it up at their own brewpub. Drop by for a glass of the spicy Bottom Up Wit, or try one of my favorites, the Anti-Hero IPA. I have mixed feelings about the food, but find it's hard to go wrong with bacon fat popcorn, a slice of pizza and a tall frosty glass poured straight from the tap.
Metropolitan Brewing (5121 North Ravenswood Avenue) produce names that sound like assembly-line components (Krankshaft, Flywheel, Dynamo, Iron Works), but there's nothing assembly line about how they taste. Krankshaft Kölsch has long been a favorite of mine. As a bonus to visitors, Metropolitan is right next door to local micro distillery, Koval. Both offer tours of the facilities, check on line for times and tickets.
If you like your beer with a huge hamburger served in a flamboyant atmosphere, then drop by Hamburger Mary's (5400 North Clark Street). The beers here are made in small batches and are always interesting. I recommend a glass of the light, refreshing "Mary Hoppins" pale ale and their hamburger special.
5 Rabbits is brand-spanking new, but they made an impression on me at this year's The Micro Brew & Food Review. The Golden Ale Cerveza d’Oro is a nicely balanced brew that is spicy, hoppy and imminently drinkable. The 5 Lizard Latin-Style Witbier has pronounced notes of passion fruit, but unlike most fruit beers, isn't sweet and sappy. I plan to stock up on both. Like Finch, 5 Rabbit can be found at The Map Room, Hop Leaf, as well as other popular pubs. Check their site for locations.
Haymarket Brew Pub (737 West Randolph Street) is run by Pete Crowly, former brew master for Rock Bottom's Chicago outfit. Not only can you find an outstanding Belgian Rye called Angry Birds, but you'll be able to sample guest brews and get a great meal.
The Chicago beer scene is growing fast, and only getting better. If you're in Chicago, find an excuse to try one of our great, local brews!