Best beer bars: Chicago's best bars and brewpubs for craft beer

These best beer bars cater to craft beer snobs looking for extensive draft beer lists and those just wanting to grab any old beer at one of our many brewpubs.

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  • Photograph: Gemma Petrie

    Best beer bars for craft beer and more in Chicago: Atlas Brewing Company

  • Photograph: Brendan Lekan

    Best beer bars for craft beer and more in Chicago: Bangers & Lace

  • Photograph: Jeremy Bolen

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Fountainhead

  • Photograph: Jabari Zuberi

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Goose Island

  • Photograph: Jessica Zerby

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Half Acre tap room

  • Photograph: Michael Jarecki

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Haymarket

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Hopleaf

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Local Option

  • Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: The Map Room

  • Photograph: Marina Makropoulos

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Maria's Packaged Goods

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Revolution Brewery

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Sheffield's

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Small Bar Division

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Best beer bars for craft beer, draft beer and more in Chicago: Quencher's

Photograph: Gemma Petrie

Best beer bars for craft beer and more in Chicago: Atlas Brewing Company

Beer has officially entered the "something-for-everyone" territory. Hipsters enjoy their cans of cheap beer (ironically, of course), beer snobs dig into the latest batch of craft beer selections and everyone in between can find a lager, ale or other type of 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. Take your own Chicago brewery tour, and sit back and watch the magic happen in places such as Goose Island Clybourn and Half Acre, where the beers are brewed in-house. For a hard-to-find microbrew, a local Chicago beer, or just your average pint, check out our picks for the best beer bars in the city.  


RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best bars in Chicago


Atlas Brewing Company

  • Price band: 1/4

It’s fitting that this micro-brewpub is located on the same stretch as Delilah’s; neither is your typical Lincoln Park bar. At Atlas, they are serious about beer—so serious, in fact, that they brew pale ales, IPAs and stouts themselves, in tanks on view behind glass at the back of the room. There’s also a chef-y food menu (example: hanger steak with slow-roasted tomatoes).

  1. 2747 N Lincoln Ave, (between Schubert Ave and Diversey Pkwy)
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Bangers & Lace

  • Price band: 2/4

At this bar by the owners of Bar DeVille, “bangers” stand for sausage (we dig the Chicago-style Vienna Beef over the fancier brat sandwiches), and “lace” for “Brussels lace,” i.e., beer foam on the edge of a glass. The stellar draft selection, two-ounce sample options and knowledgeable staff draw in a mix of beer geeks and neighborhood clientele.

  1. 1670 W Division St, (at Paulina St)
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The Fountainhead

  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. 1970 W Montrose Ave, (between Damen and Winchester Aves)
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Goose Island Clybourn

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

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.

  1. 1800 N Clybourn Ave, (at Willow St)
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Half Acre Brewery

  • Price band: 1/4

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 (recently, barrel-aged Over Ale) 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.

  1. 4257 N Lincoln Ave, (at Cullom Ave)
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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.

  1. 737 W Randolph St
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Hopleaf

  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. 5148 N Clark St, (between Winona St and Foster Ave)
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Local Option

  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. 1102 W Webster Ave, (between Seminary and Clifton Aves)
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The Map Room

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

You couldn’t fit another beer on the killer list or another Bucktown local in this cozy tavern on occasional Tuesdays when the bar unveils new or limited releases of specialty beers. If you’re a more low-key drinker but like the vibe, stop by in the a.m. when the Map Room functions as a coffeehouse.

  1. 1949 N Hoyne Ave, (between Homer St and Armitage Ave)
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Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar

Ed Marszewski—editor-publisher of Lumpen, festival host, gallerist and general Chicago indie-art-world guy-around-town—and his brother, Mike, remodeled and renamed Kaplan’s Liquors, the Bridgeport bar that was owned and operated since 1986 by their mother, Maria. The chandeliers built out of bottles and the 300-plus microbrews are notable, but the real standout feature is the welcoming scene: People like each other here.

  1. 960 W 31st St, (between Keeley and Farrell Sts)
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Quenchers Saloon

  • Price band: 2/4

You could wait up to an hour to get into one of this microbrewery’s booths. Or you could simply hover around the bar and snap up a stool as soon as someone else calls it a night. Either way, remember you’re here for the beer as much as the food. So pair that Workingman burger with a pint of Workingwoman brown beer. And follow that with a goblet of Bottom Up Wit and an order of pumpkin hand pies. The latter is a pairing good enough to make you forget about the wait for a seat, ambivalent service and disappointing pizza.

  1. 2401 N Western Ave, (at Fullerton Ave)
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Sheffield’s

  • Price band: 2/4

This huge beer garden turns into a laid-back college reunion on weekend nights in summer, with baseball-capped dudes and spaghetti-strapped chicks flanking the outdoor bar. In colder months, the attention turns to the more sophisticated picks on the beer list and the slabs of ribs that go a long way toward warming the belly.

  1. 3258 N Sheffield Ave, (between Belmont Ave and School St)
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Small Bar

  • Price band: 1/4

Since chef Justin White came on board, the name of this place may as well be Small and Underappreciated Beer-Focused Restaurant. Yes, there are still burgers and poutine, the satisfying snacks that, along with Small Bar's encyclopedic beer selection, have made this a low-key neighborhood favorite. But White's menu offers more than elevated bar food tropes: This guy is serving toasts with savory tomato jam and a sophisticated romaine salad rife with herbs. Even if he made nothing besides the perfectly fried whitefish sandwich, it would be enough to put him—and Small Bar—on the gastropub map.

  1. 2049 W Division St, (between Damen and Hoyne Aves)
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Users say

1 comments

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