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Top 20 Places to Drink Beer in Chicago

Top 20 Places to Drink Beer in Chicago

Chicago is a city where everything is done with the whole heart. It is home to some of the most diehard sports fans you’ll find in the country, and how the city’s iconic foods are prepared – pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, and hot dogs – is a topic that is not taken lightly, and everyone in the room has a strong opinion.

The same is true for the craft beer scene. Breweries and beer proprietors here aren’t limping in, and the beer drinkers here have high expectations of their favorite drink. They are doing things with the same intensity as you’ll find with their sports teams and culinary scene. The Brewers Association recently reported that Chicago is the nation’s brewing capital, with 167 breweries across the city (as well as its suburbs), outnumbering the beer meccas of Denver and San Diego. Need more proof? The Windy City is home to the first ever Michelin-starred brewpub and to one of the most sought after beers created – Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Not to mention, the city is helping mold the future of beer movers and shakers being home to Siebel Institute and the Cicerone Certification Program.

With a solid line-up of breweries, beer bars, restaurants with strong beer lists, and even beer events, it’s hard to navigate what are the essential places to drink a beer when visiting this amazing city. While the list doesn’t detail all of the must-see beer destinations when in Chicago, it’s a great jumping-off point. Here are twenty places to drink beer in Chicago:


Poured beers at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria 

Since opening in 2001, Piece Brewery’s beers, such as the Dark and Curvy Dunkelweizen and Golden Arm, have won 28 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. And while Chicago may be best known for deep dish pizza, this Wicker Park spot cranks out thick New-Haven Style pies to go along with house-made beers.


Exterior of Revolution Brewing

Revolution Brewing

This Logan Square brewery may be the largest independent brewery in Illinois, but the taproom still has that welcoming, neighborhood feel. Mainstays include Anti-Hero IPA, Eugene Porter and Rev Pils, a Chicago Pilsner with statues by famous Chicago architect Frank Lloyd Wright adorning the can. Don’t miss creative beers such as Spirit of Revolt, an Imperial IPA with oats, Under Protest Imperial IPA brewed with mango and blood orange, or Deth’s Tar, an Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in oak bourbon barrels.


Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Haymarket specializes in classic Belgian and contemporary American beer styles, landing the West Loop brewery more than 75 brewing awards. There is always something new to try, such as the Front Porch Light Schwarzbier, Black Betsy Imperial Black Belgian IPA, and Call Me A Fool Belgian Rye Stout. Besides rotating beer, there is a menu of 40 different rotating house-made sausages from smoked kielbasa and smoked andouille to gouda brats and jalapeno cheddarwurst.


Exterior of Half Acre Beer Company

Half Acre Beer Company

Half Acre’s WYLD series features brews from the mixed fermentation cellar while their small-batch beers are constantly changing. The solid year-round line up consists of Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, Bodem IPA, Pony Pilsner, and Tuna Session India Pale Ale. The Lincoln taproom serves burritos and sandwiches, such as hoisin BBQ pork shoulder and crispy buttermilk spicy chicken. The Balmoral taproom has an outdoor beer garden and churns out Roman-style pizza and Sunday brunch.


Burger and taps at First Draft

First Draft 

South Loop’s First Draft has 64 rotating craft beers to choose from across the globe. Burnt City Brewing, On Tour Brewing, Maplewood Brewing Company and Twisted Hippo are amongst local breweries on tap. Traditional pub grub is served alongside the beer – pretzel bites with beer cheese, tacos, chicken wings, chili cheese fries, nachos and burgers.


The bar at The Map Room

The Map Room

Beers from Austria, Canada, Germany and Belgium, among others, fit in perfectly at this travel-inspired Bucktown bar, which is replete with map-lined walls, various country flags dangling from the ceiling and travel books for browsing. There are more than 100 bottles of beer and 26 taps, as well as cider, mead and wine selections. The Map Room also hosts Beer School for those who want to learn more about their favorite drink – from malt and yeast characteristics to cultural traditions.


Festival of Barrel Aged Beers

Festival of Barrel Aged Beers

Two hundred breweries from across the U.S. bring their most innovative barrel-aged brews for FoBAB to showcase for The National Barrel Aged Beer Competition. Local Chicago breweries include Hopewell Brewing Company, 5 Rabbit Cervecria, Empirical Brewery, Middle Brow Beer Co., Moody Tongue Brewing Company and more.


Fountainhead sign

Fountainhead

The food menu at Fountainhead is thoughtfully curated to bring a twist to familiar favorites, as with the potato gnocchi with black truffle pudding and a veggie burger topped with a pickled habanero aioli. The impressive draft and bottle list is accompanied by an equally notable array of bourbons, whiskeys, scotch whiskeys and cocktails. For Chicago beers, look for Begyle Brewing, Spiteful Brewing, Whiner Beer Co., and Alarmist Brewing to name a few.


The Beer Temple

The Beer Temple

The Beer Temple started out as a bottle shop loaded with hard-to-find beers from around the world, and has since then expanded to a taproom. They even host their own podcast! Browse a carefully maintained collection, many of which are available for drinking in-store. At the taproom, there is a diverse collection of twenty local and international brews.


Patrons at Sheffield’s Wine & Beer Garden

Sheffield’s Wine & Beer Garden

Just a few blocks away from Wrigley Field, Sheffield’s has everything you’d want for game day – an outdoor beer garden, barbecue and a strong beer list. Find beers from Germany, England and Belgium, as well as local favorites such as Marz Brewing, 3 Floyds Brewery and Noon Whistle Brewing.


Bartender pouring a beer at Band of Bohemia

Band of Bohemia

For those who truly appreciate the intersection between culinary and beer excellence, Band of Bohemia is your spot. The Michelin-starred brewpub serves sophisticated dishes meant to be paired with beer, such as duck leg roulade, butter poached halibut and chilled Spanish octpus with pea puree and toasted almonds.


Exterior sign for Delilah's

Vintage Beer Fest

Every February for 21 years, Delilah’s, a rock n’ roll beer and whiskey haven, hosts the Vintage Beer Fest. More than one hundred beers are poured for sampling with a focus on sours, barrel-aged beers, strong ales and live beers. There are also vertical tastings of sought after beers – Dark Lord from Three Floyds, Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island and Kentucky Bourbon Stout from Founders.


Beer selection at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar

Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar

Maria’s is a hybrid liquor store and cozy neighborhood tavern in the city’s Bridgeport area that features a variety of rare beers. It has grown since its opening in 1986 and now has a front and patio and features Korean and Polish street food as well. The shop boasts a jaw-dropping 700 craft beers from around the world and about 200 stocked in the bar.


Pint of beer at Owen & Engine

Owen & Engine

Owen & Engine is all about creative British grub to go along with their long beer list. The menu has all the classics you’d expect – Haddock fish and chips with a malt vinegar mayonnaise, daily bangers and mash, scotch egg with pork sausage and Cornish pasty. Choose from twenty beers on tap or dozens of cans and bottles to go along with the delectable comfort food.


Community style tables at The Publican

The Publican

Beer lovers gather around community tables at The Publican, sharing fresh oysters and seafood, a variety of hams and vegetable-focused dishes with produce from local farms. The beer list as well does not disappoint with dozens of beers from around the world as well as ten or so from the Chicagoland area. All servers have received the first level of Cicerone training and are ready to offer pairing suggestions.


Taps at Hopleaf

Hopleaf 

Hopleaf has been a beer destination since 1992, serving Belgian-style food to go along with it. There’s a house-made sausage platter, wood-grilled steak frites and a slow roasted duck reuben with house-made sauerkraut and pommes frites. Craft beers are from everywhere, but there’s a plethora of Belgian brews here to go with the grub.


Craft Kave at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago

Craft Kave at Guaranteed Rate Field

The days of lackluster beers at baseball games are coming to an end, especially at this spot in the Chicago White Sox’s home stadium.  Besides great views of the game, there are more than 75 craft beers available from across the country. Neighboring breweries on the menu include Off Color Brewing, Alarmist Brewing, Hop Butcher, Forbidden Root, Baderbräu and Metropolitan. Pair it with one of their hearty food options, like the Southsider burger with two patties, Italian beef, giardiniera and provolone.


Burger, beer and fries at The Bad Apple

The Bad Apple 

The Bad Apple takes beer and burgers to the next level, proving that burgers are anything but basic. Exciting toppings include peanut butter, stout-sautéed spicy chilies and onions, truffled ricotta, smoked brisket, braised short ribs and more. Everything possible is made from scratch in-house, including beer-battered cheese curds, assorted sausages and herb- and citrus-marinated olives.


Burger beer and fries at Bangers & Lace

Bangers & Lace

Bangers & Lace churns out artisan sausage alongside great beer combinations in a make-yourself-at-home Midwestern lodge vibe. Sausage is the star here, along with 32 beers on tap, from a smoky and garlicky knackwurst to lamb gyro brat. Chicago favorites are the hot dog topped classically with mustard, onion, tomato, relish, sport pepper, pickle spear and celery salt, as well as the Italian or Polish kielbasa. They even have a vegan brat and offer a variety of interesting toppings.


Burger, beer and salad at Horse Thief Hollow Brewing

Horse Thief Hollow Brewing

The Southside of Chicago gets a taste of true Southern-inspired cuisine with twelve-hour house-smoked pulled pork for nachos and sandwiches, flavorful blue crab gumbo, house-made sausage, short rib poutines, the low country veggie wrap and a luscious coconut cake at Horse Thief Hollow Brewing. Well-made dishes go along with award winning beer, such as a recent FoBAB first place winner, the unfiltered Hilltop Weizenbock, a Bavarian wheat beer aged in Palo Santo wood barrels.


Chicago is one of the best cities in the United States for beer, and these 20 spots are just a sampling of some of the finest the Windy City has to offer. Stay tuned for the next stop in our travel series of "best places to drink" in various cities.

All Photos Courtesy Respective Establishment

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