Best Chicago brewery tours
You'll get to taste three of Dovetail's beers during this lengthy (but super-informative) tour, but the most interesting moment comes when participants are asked to sample three different types of water. Dovetail uses a reverse osmosis to try to replicate the water of Pilsen, the Bohemian city where the pilsner beer was born—the resulting liquid is noticeably different from what comes out of the average Chicago tap. The European-style touches don't end there; you'll also see a giant steel tub that is used to expose wild beers to natural bacteria in the air. When the tour is over, continue to pretend you're in Germany with a radler and a pretzel in Dovetail's taproom.
Booze included: Three 10-ounce pours selected by the tour guide.
Tours: Saturday at 11am. Reservations recommended. $15.—Zach Long
When Lagunitas opened, it immediately became the largest brewery in Chicago. Housed in an old steel distribution plant in Douglas Park, the brewery is a massive operation, filled with giant tanks and whirring machines. The tasting tour we went on lasted an hour and 15 minutes, and 45 of those minutes were spent drinking beer. The rest of the tour was held on a catwalk, so you’re able to overlook the whole operation. But by the time the tour started, everyone was buzzed and we had a hard time hearing our guide over other tour groups and general brewery buzz.
Booze included: We went on one of the tasting tours (held Monday through Friday) and we received four beer samples prior to the tour.
Tours: Tasting tours (samples included) Monday through Friday at 1 and 3pm. Walking tours (no samples) Wednesday through Friday at 5 and 6pm; Saturday and Sunday hourly from 1 to 6pm. Free.—Amy Cavanaugh
Touring Three Floyds is not an enterprise for the rushed; the first-come, first-served tours at Indiana’s biggest (and arguably the Midwest’s most beloved) craft brewery can fill up hours in advance. While away your wait with lunch and a pint in the attached pub. Once your turn comes, don’t expect a dissertation; tours here clock in at just 20–30 minutes, allowing visitors to get back to the business of drinking beer.
Booze included: Not a drop. Before you protest, though, keep in mind that the tour’s free—and according to the guide, you can generally score a few gratis samples in the pub post-tour as long as you ask your server nicely.
Tours: Saturdays at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30pm. Free.—Cate Huguelet
The brewery housed behind Off Color's Mousetrap taproom isn't large, but a weekly 45-minute tour (capped at 15 participants) is full of fun facts about the team's origins and process. The tanks and barrels in the space house many of the brewery's one-off creations, so the tour also functions as a sneak peek at what Off Color is doing next. Once your stroll through the brewery is over, you can order from nearby Pizzeria Bebu and sample some of the new, intriguing beverages on tap.
Booze included: One free taster to enjoy while you walk through the brewery.
Tours: Sundays at 3 and 6pm. Reservations highly recommended. Free.—ZL
Focusing on Latin-style beers and using Latin American ingredients like dulce de leche, ancho chilies and lime peel, no one else in Chicago is making beer quite like 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. Arrive a little early and sample a beer flight in the very small, low-key taproom. During the 45-minute tour, you may get to sample some still-fermenting beers right out of the tanks and take a look at beer aging in rum and brandy barrels.
Booze included: You can pick a pint of 5 Rabbit beer to sip during the tour, and you can take the glass home with you.
Tours: Saturdays at 3pm. $10.—AC
First things first: Get in line early. Tours are capped at 60 people and it took us three tries to get in. The cap "weeds out the weenies," our tour guide explained. The brewery is filled with brewing equipment, kegging gear and fermenters that produce experimental beers. The more than two-hour tour is the longest we went on, and your patience is rewarded with plenty of cold beverages. If you want to learn even more about Half Acre, take a trip to the gigantic Balmoral brewery, where flagship beers like Daisy Cutter and Pony Pilsener are produced and canned.
Booze included: Three pours of your choice and a Half Acre pint glass.
Tours: Saturdays at 11am. $10.—Karl Klockars
This isn't where Goose Island got its start (that'd be the Clybourn brewhouse) but plenty of beer has been brewed here since the facility opened up in 1995. After meeting in the adjoining taproom, you'll make your way through a 45-minute tour of the brewing tanks, a "wild room" (where beers made with Brettanomyces are quarantined to avoid contamination) and barrel house. Beer is being made 24/7, so you're nearly guaranteed to spot some brewers hard at work.
Booze included Three six-ounce pours—they're served in glasses that can't be carried throughout the tour, so grab a plastic cup from the bar if you're a slow drinker. After the tour, you'll take home a free pint glass.
Tours: Thursdays and Fridays hourly from 2–7pm; Saturdays hourly from noon–7pm; Sundays hourly from noon–4pm. $12. Reservations recommended.—ZL
Housed in a fairly small room, this Portage Park brewery looks a bit like a very sophisticated homebrewing operation, proving that anyone with some passion (and the budget for some equipment) can start making their own beer. Brewer Clint Bautz stands in the middle of the room and points out how his compact but capable system functions, showcasing the bottling area and barrel room. By the end of the 30-minute spiel, you'll probably be feeling inspired to start formulating your own IPA.
Booze included: None, but you get a glass and can purchase Lake Effect beers at a nearby bar.
Tours: Saturdays at 2, 3:30 and 5pm. $5.—ZL
Founded by a Deadhead homebrewer who used to follow Phish on tour (hence the name), this West Town brewery is the city's latest critical darling after taking home two medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2017. Tour participants will learn about the old warehouse they're standing in (which once housed a boiler manufacturer), taste the raw grains that go into On Tour's beer and reminisce about Trey Anastasio guitar solos over a few post-tour samples.
Booze included: Three five-ounce pours and a glass to take home.
Tours: First and third Saturdays at 1pm. $10.—ZL
Don’t have a ton of time? Fundamentally against paying money for a walk through an industrial factory? Don’t need any more glassware or a ton of beers thrown at you during a tour? The Revolution tour at the Kedzie facility is for you. It goes backward, beginning in the 40-degree cold room where packaged beer stays chilled before going to a distributor. From there, you see a wall lined with pallets of empty cans, touch on the grain milling process, then walk through the brewhouse where you’ll see the brewing system. It may sound cursory and quick—and it is—but not every tour needs to be an encyclopedia of beer knowledge.
Booze included A sample pint of Revolution beer, picked by your tour guide.
Tours: Wednesdays through Fridays at 6 and 7pm; Saturdays at 3, 4, 5 and 6pm; Sundays at 2, 3 and 4pm. Free.—KK
At Begyle, things are laid-back, with no line and a small crowd. The founders lead the 90-minute tours themselves, and they'll take you from the origins of the business (in front of the pedicab where the idea for the brewery was conceived) to their efforts to create the city’s first community-supported brewery. See those shaking flasks you see in the corner? Those are beer science experiments. Begyle employs a microbiologist to conduct beer testing and the shaking speeds up fermentation, which allows Begyle to test its beers sooner.
Booze included: You'll get three pours of a rotating variety and a 13oz Begyle goblet to keep. Since Begyle constantly rotates through new beers, you’re likely to find one that you haven’t had yet.
Tours: Saturdays at noon. $10.—KK
The swanky design of Moody Tongue's Pilsen tasting room separates it from most other Chicago breweries, but a behind-the-scenes peek reveals that it's using similar tools to create its decadent brews. During your tour of the facility (a former glass factory), you'll learn about how Moody Tongue applies culinary principles to its brewing process, resulting in beers that can taste like desserts or savory dishes. Speaking of food, you can always end your tour with a slice of chocolate cake or some oysters—the only two dishes this taproom serves.
Booze included: One complimentary beer from Moody Tongue's Perennial Beer Selection and a glass to take home.
Tours: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30, 3 and 4:30pm. $20.—ZL
Located in Warrenville, Two Brothers offers a straightforward tour, taking you through the brewing process and highlighting the tanks, canning lines and barrels. It’s a good tour for anyone who wants a primer on beer-making, and at 45 minutes, it’s just a quick break from drinking (and enjoying some housemade beer cheese) in the attached Tap House. The tour ends there, where you’ll find your free beer samples waiting for you.
Booze included: Three four-ounce pours of Two Brothers' latest brews.
Tours: Saturdays at 1, 2 and 3pm; Sundays at 1:30pm. Free.—AC
Though they conclude with a quick turn through the production area, tours of Argus Brewery are refreshingly light on the technical stuff. (When you’ve seen one mash tun, you’ve seen them all.) Instead, the 90-minute tours are keyed to a couple of Argus’s strengths: the rich backstory of the building (a Pullman District–adjacent historic landmark) and the conviviality of the staff. After taking a look at the brewery’s exterior with Argus’s jovial house historian, Nick, you’ll retire to the cozy taproom, where you’ll spend the better part of an hour chatting, trying your hand at table shuffleboard and sampling the goods. It’s an easy-going affair that has the feeling of an afternoon drinking session with old buddies.
Booze included: As much as you care to sample, served up in a souvenir pint glass. With five to seven handles to taste your way through, you’re going to want to take the Metra home.
Tours: Saturdays at 12:30, 2 and 3:30pm. $15.—CH
Congenial one-hour tours of this West Loop brewpub include a briefing on the property’s storied history (as Barney’s Market Club, it was a choice nightspot for movers, shakers and local rogues for decades), followed by a heavy-on-the-beer-geekery jaunt through the production area and a guided tasting of four pours. Haymarket’s 15-barrel brew tank may restrict its output, but a modest batch size means a relatively limited loss should something go awry, enabling brewers to embrace experimentation in a way that many larger outfits can’t.
Booze included: A 12-ounce beer to take along on the tour followed by four four-ounce pours (tour guide’s choice).
Tours: Saturdays and Sundays at noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4pm. $15. Reservations highly recommended.—CH
Established in 1988, the Goose Island Clybourn Brewhouse is an elder statesman of the city’s (heck, the country’s) craft beer scene. Such credentials translate to packed tours that can feel a little rote, but the tasting session that follows the 45-minute tour, not to mention the sweet take-home (a logo pint glass!), will send you away smiling. If you're looking for a more comprehensive look at Goose Island's brewing process, check out the tour of its Fulton Street Brewery.
Booze included: Four six-ounce pours and a commemorative glass.
Tours: Saturdays hourly from noon to 7pm; Sundays hourly from 1 to 4pm. Reservations recommended. $12.—CH