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Best beer bars in Chicago

Chicago is a beer-loving city, and no matter what neighborhood you're in, you won't be far from a great beer bar

Photograph: Martha Williams
Beer flight at Beermiscuous.

Beer has officially entered the "something-for-everyone" territory. Hipsters enjoy their cheap canned beer (ironically, of course), beer snobs dig into the latest craft beer selections and everyone in between can find a lager, ale or other beer that suits them. Some of our favorite bars and brewpubs offer numerous beers on draft, allowing serious beer drinkers to sample everything from classic national drafts to specialty beer made right here in Chicago. 

RECOMMENDED: Best bars in Chicago

Best beer bars in Chicago

Beermiscuous

While the name is a bit odd, there's nothing to dislike about this Lakeview beer bar. There's an excellent rotating selection of mostly local drafts, plus packed cases at the entrance with bottles from all over the place. Grab a beer to drink in the store or pack a six-pack to take home. On Wednesday evenings, area food trucks will park outside, so grab a snack to eat while you drink through some beers.

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Lakeview

Fountainhead

With its carefully attended-to beer list and homey, taverny look, this pub from the Bar on Buena folks has a serious Hopleaf vibe to it. The big difference? The crowds, though passionate drinkers, are not so large that they’re lining up on the sidewalk. So keep this underrated gem to yourself, or suffer the throngs of craft-beer geeks.

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Ravenswood

Goose Island Clybourn

Watching beer ferment in tanks is about as exciting as C-SPAN, so we’re pretty sure it’s concoctions like Matilda and Sofie that bring in the crowds here. Nearly every Goose Island beer from 312 to Pere Jacques is on tap, but we drop in to check out the seasonal releases and chef collaborations.

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North Side

The Green Lady

Like quintessential neighborhood bars of yore, this wood-paneled pub is a bastion of congeniality. Trivia and open-mic nights bring in a more eclectic crowd than one might expect in Roscoe Village, and unlike your stereotypical Irish bar, the focus here is not on big TVs or pub grub (no food is served). Instead, much care has been put into the beer list, which includes 30 crafts on draft, four of which the bartender will arrange into a $10 flight.

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North Side

Half Acre Brewery

Beer. People drinking beer. Bearded people drinking beer wearing T-shirts bearing beer logos. This laid-back tap room adjacent to Half Acre’s brewing facilities swarms with all these things and more. Minimal picnic-style tables lend a beer-hall vibe, and on tap are the brewery’s classics (Daisy Cutter, Gossamer), its latest experiments and everything in between. You can peek through the doors into the brewery to see where the magic happens, but we guarantee this side of the building is having more fun.

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North Center

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

There’s no doubt Pete Crowley is a great brewer. For his breakout bar, Haymarket, the former Rock Bottom brewmaster amassed an amazing bottle list, and some of the beers he’s brewed, such as the Mathias Imperial IPA and Oscar’s Pardon Belgian Pale Ale, are awesome. Still, the cavernous room and basic bar food don’t exactly make it an all-night destination, but it’s definitely worth a stop for a round or two.

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West Loop

Hopleaf

Thought this was just a bar to belly up to with a Belgian brew in hand? One bite and you’ll know there’s much more. Our perfect night involves sampling the drafts at the bar while slurping down the famous ale-steamed mussels, but you could also class it up, grab a proper table and dig into seasonal rotations such as wood-roasted spring chicken with morels and favas, available in the spring. Beer geeks know this is the place in town to school their palate on craft brews, and they do come in droves, but the addition of an adjacent space helps keep the place from feeling like a sardine tin.

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Uptown

Howells & Hood

Named for the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower’s architects John Howells and Raymond Hood, this sprawling restaurant/bar features a shocking number number of beers on tap (114!) and just the kind of food you want to have while sampling beers. Brett Neubauer's menu includes classics like fried cheese curds, mac and cheese and a terrific kimchi-topped burger. Come summer, grab a spot on the big outdoor patio for prime people watching and city views.

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Magnificent Mile

Links Taproom

Sit at the bar and scan the beer list on a iPad provided by the bar staff at this high-tech bar. With a local-heavy selection, there’s a draft for everyone, and five wines on tap if beer isn’t your thing. There's also a solid food menu, with a selection of house-made sausages and fried cheese curds. Bonus: there's Wi-Fi, so grab your laptop, order a pint and settle in for the afternoon.

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Wicker Park

Local Option

Though it’s nestled on a quiet, tree-lined street, this is anything but your average Lincoln Park bar. The drafts (which rotate weekly) are a suds-geek’s dream come true, the stereo is heavy on metal and the bartenders know their shit, making this one of the most underrated beer bars in the city. Translation: Expect lots of beards.

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Lincoln Park
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Comments

4 comments
Liz K
Liz K

Check out BeerShop in Oak Park

Jana R
Jana R

I think fountainhead is the best by far!

L M
L M

As should Villains in the South Loop. New, yes--but, they have an amazing draft selection that you can't get everywhere else in Chicago.

Lee J
Lee J

Howells & Hood should get a mention here with the biggest craft beer selection in chicago - 114 beers on tap!