Is there a beer-shaped hole in your weekend schedule? I have a map for that. It's an adventure that will point you toward the best local brews in the city - a worthwhile mission if you choose to accept it.
As one who is friendly with several self-identified beer nerds, it's come to my attention that Chicago is home to some of the finest ales in all the land. So much so that I very easily drafted a few of them for two afternoons that sent us to some of Chicago's best neighborhoods. We went looking for beer and we found it. A lot of it. And life was good.
This a great location if you're looking to wander around Bucktown/Wicker Park and an oasis in the deep-dish desert if the phrase "New Haven-style" means anything to you. We opted for a Camel Toe (actual name, promise) and the Dark-n-Curvy Dunkelweizen. Both are delicious on their own, but pair well with a white pie.
A quick trip up the Blue line from Piece, Revolution is a neighborhood favorite for the essential burger/beer combo. $2 taster sizes make it easy to try a little bit of everything and that's exactly what we did. My favorite (possibly of the weekend) was the Eugene Coffee Porter.
Atlas is a relative newcomer to the Chicago beer scene but I'd like to take this opportunity to formally welcome them to the neighborhood. This place is great. Like Revolution, the taster size allowed us to try a bit of everything and the Andromeda Milk Stout was a crowd favorite. The real standout here was the service - everyone here was genuinely nice, even on a busy afternoon. That goes a long way in my book.
The unofficial godfather of the Chicago beer scene, and a benevolent one at that. 312 is a personal favorite as a beer I can get just about anywhere - it's a reliably crisp pour for anytime of year. But if you go to Goose Island and you order a 312, I'm going to be somewhere in this city, shaking my head. That's because sitting on a barstool in-house, you have access to some much rarer gems-namely the Vintage, Vintage Reserve, and (be still my autumnal heart) Bourbon County lines. They even made a calendar for just such an occasion.
Straight up the Brown line (Armitage, Montrose), you'll be in North Center and short walk from the crowd favorite. The tap room is beautiful and you quickly get the sense that the locals are not the type to mess with bad beer. Street cred? Half Acre has it. Once again, we tried everything. Once again, I had a favorite (Alpenglow), but so did everyone else and they were all different. So what I'm telling you is that you should go prepared to sample the full line, it's worth the "effort."
In the heart of the West Loop and thus easily accessible if you're sticking close to downtown. If you're a sports fan, this spot has screens for days. If you're not, I know firsthand that a Wilburt Wondersniff Double America Wheat will keep you busy.
While our tour didn't make it there, it wasn't for lack of trying or appreciation; they were just closed for the day. You on the other hand, should absolutely book a tour or just make sure you sample their wares at any of the fine establishments listed below.
This one is technically "coming soon" but the South Loopers I talked to were pretty excited about a project in the works by Goose Island alum Frank Lassandrello.
Not in the mood for a full tour?
You can take it one pint at a time from a single barstool at any of these fine establishments:
- The Bad Apple in North Center (less than a minute from the Half Acre Tap Room if you're in the neighborhood)
- The Map Room in Bucktown
- The Hopleaf in Andersonville
- Local Option in Lincoln Park
- Maria's Packaged Goods in Bridgeport
- Bangers & Lace in Wicker Park
- Uberstein in Wrigleyville