Revisit | Classic beer gardens
They’re classic for a reason: These sweet spots indulge the thirsty masses.
Thu Jan 24 2013
Photograph: Martha Williams
Chief O’Neill’s It would take a lush garden verdant with grass and lined with blooming trees to overshadow the gray landscape of Elston Avenue, and that’s exactly what the owners of this old Irish favorite have built. Sequestering relaxed regulars from the harsh world beyond the privacy fences, the prime garden serves as a stellar summer spot for sipping ciders, Scotches and beers, including what has to be the most refreshing beer cocktail around, the Snake Bite: Harp lager and cider with a dash of black currant liqueur. 3471 N Elston Ave (773-473-5263). Mon–Thu 4pm–2am; Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $5.50.
Cork & Kerry If your last visit to Beverly was for the South Side Irish Parade, you’re due for a pit stop under this wild blue yonder. Of all the Irish institutions lining this stretch of Western Avenue, we like Cork & Kerry best, mainly for its spacious wooden patio adorned with homey planters. Graduate from the go-to Irish draft (which, yes, is poured with the fancy shamrock design in the foam) with a trip to Belgium. No offense to the Irish, but it’s tough to top summery abbey ales such as Tripel Karmeliet, the liquid equivalent to spritzing lemon on toasted wheat. 10614 S Western Ave (773-445-2675). Mon–Fri 2pm–2am; Sat, Sun noon–2am. Average beer: $3.
Resi’s Bierstube Authentic German biergartens are tough to come by anymore in Chicago, yet this 47-year-old institution has stood the test of time. Could be the spaetzle or the schnitzel, but we think it’s the romance of making your own Munich with a stein of weiss in the open air. While wrought-iron patio tables, wooden privacy fences and pops of bright flowers make for a common but comfortable setting, it’s the beer list that stands out, especially the weiss, or German wheat, options. Try the Franziskaner’s dunkel, a slightly darker style that goes toe-to-toe with the kitchen’s carb bombs. 2034 W Irving Park Rd (773-472-1749). Sun–Fri 2pm–2am; Sat 2pm–3am. Average beer: $6.
Sheffield’s Back before Lakeview (or much of Chicago, for that matter) gave a rat’s ass about craft beer, Sheffield’s began providing locals with a solid brew education. Today the mission is the same, to turn basic beer drinkers into better beer drinkers and keep the aficionados happy. Under the canopy of massive cottonwood limbs, the side patio feels lush and secluded, all the better for sampling through just about every style of beer known to man. For a guided tour, look into Sheffield’s one-night Beer School classes. 3258 N Sheffield Ave (773-281-4989). Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Small Bar We’re almost hesitant to remind you about this tucked-away gem on Logan Square’s Avondale edge, but you don’t win friends by being selfish. The appeal might not be apparent at first glance (the shoebox-size interior sports tatted-up pop-punkers glancing at a couple of TVs), but beyond the tiny kitchen turning out solid tater tots, you’ll find a bare-bones backyard patio party. The tight squeeze means mellow clusters become fast friends, a good way to discover cult favorites like the intensely hoppy, piney Green Flash Palate Wrecker, not nearly as scary as it sounds. 2956 N Albany Ave (773-509-9888). Mon–Fri 4pm–2am; Sat noon–3am; Sun noon–2am. Average beer: $5.
The Village Tap Roscoe Villagers have supported this stalwart for more than 20 years, flocking to the picnic tables in the ivy-draped patio during all four seasons. The heat lamps and plastic enclosures are tucked away for now, making it prime time for patio drinking. Strollers and softballers give way to a wilder bunch of beer geeks late in the night, groups who gather under the stars to debate the merits of dry hopping versus wet hopping. Jump in if you can keep up, but enter holding a hibiscus-laced Huitzi from local newcomers 5 Rabbit to ensure instant cred. 2055 W Roscoe St (877-410-7148). Mon–Thu 5pm–2am; Fri 3pm–2am; Sat noon–3am; Sun noon–2am. Average beer: $6.