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Begyle will fill growlers in its taproom.
Begyle will fill growlers in its taproom.

14 breweries to fill up a beer growler in Chicago

Skip the six-pack and fill up a growler with local beer at these area breweries. Then, take it to a party or BYOB restaurant.

By Karl Klockars
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We love drinking local craft beer, but lots of breweries don’t can or bottle their beer, so you can only drink it on-site. But lately, more and more breweries have been offering growlers, 64 ounces of fresh draft beer presented to you in a handy container, which you can carry to BYOB restaurants, backyard picnics or kitchen tables.

Unlike states like Michigan, where bars can fill growlers, in Illinois you can only fill them in places where beer is made, which limits your options to breweries and taprooms. To be fair, growlers aren’t like any other packaged beer out there. Thanks to factors like oxygen, temperature and sunlight, the quality of draft beer drops off quickly. If you aren’t drinking your growler within a small window of time (I try to enjoy mine on the day of purchase), you probably aren’t getting the best example of the brewer’s efforts.

So, where in Chicago are they available? How much are they for the glass alone, without the beer? (Beer prices being variable day to day, the range of any listed price for a full growler is quite wide.) Are 32-ounce ‘howlers’ (half-growlers) available? Do they refill other people’s growlers? Which BYOB restaurant should you take it to? Here are your options.

Where to fill your beer growler

5 Rabbit Cerveceria & Taproom

Bars Breweries Suburbs

Glass cost: Free with your first fill

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? No, but they swap your growler for a new one when you return for a refill.

Recommended fill: We’re suckers for their Paleta series, but if you’re new to 5 Rabbit, you should get a fill of their GABF Silver Medal   winning golden ale, also named 5 Rabbit.

Nearby BYOB: Being in a pretty industrialized area, 5 Rabbit doesn’t have much nearby, but since you’re probably driving, try Birrieria Zaragoza, about 6 miles away.

Atlas Brewing Company

Bars Breweries Sheffield & DePaul

Glass cost: $4

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes 

Recommended fill: We like all of Atlas’s beers, but if you see something with a dinosaur name—Ankylosaurus Tailsmash, Pterodactyl Deathscream—grab one of those. It’ll be fun to tell your friends what you got when you bring it to their place. 

Nearby BYOB: If you decide not to pair an Atlas beer with the menu they have onsite, head just up the block to Gino’s East of Chicago, because what pairs better with fresh craft beer than deep dish? 

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Begyle Brewing Company

Bars Breweries North Center

Glass cost: $4. They offer growler subscriptions through their Community Supported Brewery model, so you can get your money’s worth out of your glass cost.

Howlers available? Yes

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes. 

Recommended fill: In warmer weather we’d recommend their flagship pale, Crash Landed. Since it’s getting colder, if they have any form of their Flannel Pajamas stout, don’t miss it. 

Nearby BYOB: Beer goes great with the fried-chicken sandwiches at the Roost.

DryHop Brewers

Bars Gastropubs Lake View

Glass cost: $4

Howlers available? Yes, in the form of their new 32oz. canned “crowler”

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes

Recommended fill: Since the tanks are small and Lakeview is thirsty, new beers rotate all the time at DryHop, but they reliably have their Shark Meets Hipster Wheat IPA on hand, which is a great go-to option.

Nearby BYOB: Chilam Balam, just down the street, offers an avant-garde Mexican menu that’s a perfect fit for DryHop’s more bitter brews. 

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Goose Island Clybourn

Bars Beer bars Lincoln Park

Glass cost: $4 plus tax

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes (64oz only)

Recommended fill: The brewpub cranks out small batches of fun stuff like crazy, and we don’t want to recommend 312 or Honkers, which anyone in the country can get, so really, grab anything that catches your eye—you may never see it again.

Nearby BYOB: If you missed the chance to bring a six-pack to Hot Doug's, approximate that experience by dragging your growler to nearby Franks 'N' Dawgs.

Half Acre Brewery

Bars Breweries North Center

Glass cost: $4

Howlers available? Yes

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes, as long as they’re the same size/shape. Growlers are discounted on Tuesdays.

Recommended fill: Any of the many uncanned or bottled one-off brews available in the store or the taproom. Once the new Bowmanville brewery opens, the Lincoln Avenue space will be free to crank out even more crazy stuff, so get to know it now.

Nearby BYOB: One of the best things Lincoln Square has to offer (other than beer) is a variety of Thai food; destinations like Opart Thai House, Spoon Thai and Aroy Thai are just short strolls north. 

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Hamburger Mary’s/Andersonville Brewing

Restaurants Hamburgers Andersonville

Glass cost: $4

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes (64oz only)

Recommended fill: The dryhopped APA Mary Hoppins

Nearby BYOB: As part of Hamburger Mary’s, you can enjoy Andersonville’s beers onsite, but if you want to take it to go, stop by the nearby Sunshine Cafe for some udon to pair with your amber ale. 

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Bars Gastropubs West Loop

Glass cost: $5

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes

Recommended fill: Their Defender stout is legitimately one of the best stouts in the world in its style (it won gold medals at GABF and the World Beer Cup), but if that’s not on hand, their Matthias Imperial IPA is a good go-to.

Nearby BYOB: Fancy joints with extensive bars are legion in the West Loop but the lowly BYOB is elusive; stop by Pizzeria Del Mercato or De Cero for a place to pour.

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Horse Thief Hollow

Restaurants Gastropubs Beverly

Glass cost: $5

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? Yes

Recommended fill: It’s hard to resist an Oktoberfest named Hasselhofbrau (get it? Germans like him!), but GABF Award–winning 18th Rebellion Kolsch would be a good pick.

Nearby BYOB: Beverly is mostly dry, but if you aren’t in the mood for HTH’s menu, Pizzeria Deepo is your best nearby choice. 

Lagunitas Brewing Company

Bars Breweries North Lawndale

Glass cost: $6 plus tax

Howlers available? Ceramic decorative ones only; not for filling

Can you fill other breweries' growlers? No

Recommended fill: It’s hard to go wrong with the Lagunitas IPA, but if they’re pouring any of their stronger brews like Little Sumpin’ or Brown Shugga, get the most out of your 64oz with a high-ABV option.

Nearby BYOB: You may think this Douglas Park superbrewery may be in a BYOB desert, but bring your growler to one of Chicago’s finest BYOBs: El Ideas is less than a mile away. Grab another one for the kitchen. 

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