The Latest and Greatest in Chicago Craft Beer
Eight new spots for the enterprising Chicago beer lover
A clever man once said, “Beer today, gone tomorrow.”
But that man? He never lived in Chicago. Because here we say “Beer today, more beer tomorrow!”
Now that summer’s here — the time for ale sippin’ and patio chillin’ — it’s time to see what’s new on the scene.
That’s why we rounded up the latest and greatest in Chicago beer, from brewpubs that cater to every taste imaginable to must-visit bottle shops every hop-head should add to his beer-huntin’ directory.
Hopewell Brewing Co.
Sometimes a man doesn’t wanna feel like he’s drinking in a lightless Siberian basement. This Logan Square taproom boasts polished blonde wood interiors and a natural airy environment with beers to match. It’s an impeccable combo — easygoing atmosphere with easy-drinking beers. The 24:37 red IPA and Farm and Family Saison brewed with a special house yeast are both early favorites (see the list here). Dog-friendly. Also BYOF. An all-around solid neighborhood joint.
At this new Ravenswood taproom, you’ll hear whispers that they’ve got a lambic-style sour aging in barrels the back. ‘Tis true. In fact, these guys all about peddling German and Belgian-style brews, and they’re as traditional as you’ll find in Chicago, from their well-balanced Hefeweizen to the subtly smoky Franconian-style Rauchbier.
Photo: Rudy Rubio
Band of Bohemia
Leading the charge of the city’s now full-blown interest in culinary brewing (a sect of the craft beer scene making beers for the express purpose of pairing suds with food), Band of Bohemia is a funky brewpub offering an unparalleled seasonal dining experience. Think vegetal Lime-Leaf Lemongrasse wheat ales paired with Grilled Pork Collar. Or the Guava Pink Peppercorn brew paired with the Jerk Duck Breast. It’s all twists, turns and surprises here.
Off Color Brewing Bottle Shop
When beer geeks cry, it’s usually because a place like Off Color opens up a bottle shop. Keep in mind this is not a taproom. But the city’s most respected beer label is offering up fresh brews and special releases for those in-the-know. The easiest way to stay in the loop: sign up for the email list. The best day to get your fill? Friday, also known as “Freshie Friday,” where you can get fresh bottles from the line. Also of note: new public tours! Get in line.
Photo: Matthias Merges
Finch Beer Co. & Kitchen
Finch Beer has been around since 2011, and now they’re ready to take on Chicago’s drinking scene proper by commandeering the short-lived Breakroom Brewery space with a high-profile chef in tow. The food, ranging from handcrafted sausages to griddled burgers, is under the special guidance of Matthias Merges (Yusho, A10), and trust it does not disappoint (menu here). And in addition to Finch’s core beers, they’re including taps from Hopothesis, Marz Brewing and other lesser-known local brewers. Also of note: a menu for the kiddos. So bring the whole family and don’t forget to grab some Fascist Pig for the road.
Photo: Nick Murway
The Chicago beer scene has seen many “firsts” as of late, and you can thank the Northman for giving us our first bar dedicated to cider. The corner pub’s globe-spanning menu speaks to all kinds of trends and flavors — from Wild Blossom’s of-the-moment Wild Cran Apple Cryser mead (“the hell’s a mead?”) to the ever-so-dry Le Brun Organic Cidre that finishes with a tart punch. It’s a brave new world out there, cider fans. This is your place to explore it.
As Chicago’s first “botanic brewery,” there’s a lot to like about Forbidden Root. First, the space. Beautiful. Inviting. Looks the part of a botanic garden. Second, the brews. They’re unlike anything you’ve had before in the city, but extraordinarily approachable, with room for experimentation. Don’t miss Forbidden Root’s “elixirs” — a range of botanical liqueurs that can be added to the beers to unlock new dimensions of flavor. Doesn’t hurt that they’re serving up churched-up bar bites like lamb jerky and malted hanger steak. Get there.
Bitter Pops Beer Shop
Looking for a new place to hunker down with fellow beer lovers? Located right down the street from another craft beer destination Northdown, Bitter Pops is a brand new beer shop and tasting room concept you’ll wish you had in your ‘hood. Look out for nightly tastings. Rotating specials. Then head on over to the tasting room and settle in for a cold one.