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Alter Brewing Downers Grove
Photograph: Adam Hooczko

The 17 best suburban Chicago breweries

Get out of the city to sample the beers being created at suburban Chicago breweries to the north, west and south

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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Breweries and taprooms are currently operating at reduced capacity and many have implemented new hours. As always, it's a good idea to call ahead to determine if a reservation is required.

If you've already visited every brewery in Chicago and you're itching to try something new, it's time to head for the suburbs. With more than 160 in the Chicagoland area, there's a decent chance that you'll be able to sample beers at suburban breweries that you haven't had at your favorite bar in Chicago. Whether you want to head north to Temperance in Evanston or take a trip out west to More Brewing in Villa Park, there are options for IPA fans and barrel-aged beer aficionados alike. And if you're a fan of sipping brews outdoors, many of these suburban breweries' patios dwarf our favorite Chicago beer gardens. Ready to go on a beer adventure? Plot out your journey with our guide to some of the best suburban Chicago breweries.

Suburban Chicago breweries

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, first come, first served.

There's a lot going on at the Aurora outpost of the Two Brothers Brewing Company, a 70,000-square-foot facility that's housed in a former train station located just off the Metra. You can stop by for a drink at the brewpub, get some fresh air in the courtyard beer garden, see where Two Brothers Artisan Spirits are distilled or grab a cup of coffee (made from beans roasted on-site) from the Roundhouse Cafe. Don't be surprised if you see a wedding party or hear some live music while you're sipping your Domaine DuPage French country ale—this is a popular rental venue for events and the occasional concert.

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Offering outdoor seating with a reservation Wed–Sun. First come, first served Mon and Tue.

Fans of Belgian-inspired beer have long coveted the sleek, sparsely labeled bottles of sour and barrel-aged creations that Une Année produces. You can taste them by the glass at the brewery's Niles taproom, which also features IPAs and stouts brewed under the Hubbard's Cave label (named for the Hubbard Street traffic tunnel on I–90/94). With 24 taps, you'll nearly always be treated to the freshest batches, whether you prefer tart barrel aged wild ales or double IPAs packed with a variety of hops. Leave some room for a delicious menu of barbecue brisket, ribs and wings—all smoked on-site.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, first come, first served.

Best known for its Gummy series of hazy IPAs that are jammed with juicy hop flavors, Noon Whistle was actually conceived as a brewery that would produce easy-drinking, low-ABV beers. You'll still find some sessionable beverages (the Bernie milk stout is particularly good) on the menu at Noon Whistle's Lombard taproom, where the brewery got its start before expanding to Naperville. Arrive with an appetite so you can sample a half-pound garlic beer sausage or nosh on a charcuterie board between drinks.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, reservations recommended. Walk-ins are welcome.

Founded in Evanston, Sketchbook Brewing Co. opened this satellite brewery and taproom about 4 miles west of its original location in 2019, setting up shop in a building just steps away from the Skokie bike trail. Visitors can grab a drink from the expansive bar inside or (if it's nice enough) grab a seat on the patio to sip one of more than 20 beers on tap—from German-style wheat ales to hazy IPAs. There's a small selection of snacks available to order, but you're better off carrying in items from a nearby restaurant if you're looking for a substantial meal.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, first come, first served.

Well before Alter Brewing Co. opened its expansive brewpub in downtown St. Charles, it was producing beer in this industrial taproom near the Belmont Metra station in Downers Grove, where you can still stop in for a drink. The 12 taps at this location typically have Alter's year-round beers on-tap, comprised of a selection of pale ales and the balanced Center Line golden ale. Once you've sampled the basics, we recommend taking a chance on seasonal selections like the Swedda Wedda oatmeal stout or anything that's spent a few months in the brewery's foeder.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, first come, first served.

A home brewer and a graphic designer teamed up to start this brewery in the small western suburb of Lyons, Illinois, where BuckleDown sets its course by "brewing the kind of beer that we love to drink." That means that you can step into the brewery's garage-turned-taproom and find its slightly hoppy Fritzicuffs Pilsner on tap alongside a Mexican hot chocolate-inspired pastry stout. And if you love what you're drinking, nearly everything can be ordering to go in cans or growlers.

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Offering outdoor seating with a reservation.

"Beer. Doom. Tacos." reads the three-word descriptor that Soundgrowler Brewing Co. prefers to use—a statement that does a decent job of summing up this Tinley Park spot. The heavy-metal–inspired brewery churns out an impressive variety of beer (IPAs, Irish red ales, lagers) and serves it alongside a menu of Mexican cuisine, including tacos, burritos and tortas. You can order an entire platter of tacos accompanied by a Tortilla Hands Mexican lager and then pick up some skull-emblazoned rolling papers and grinders from the merch table on your way out.

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Offering outdoor seating, first come, first served.

A pair of Goose Island vets started this Belgian-inspired brewery back in 2014, taking their knowledge of making (and selling) beer to a brewhouse in downtown Geneva. Penrose has expanded the scope of its output in recent years, delving into more hop-forward IPAs, but it's still making one of its original creations: the Proto golden ale, which balances a subtle sweetness with malty notes. The brewery's taproom serves as one of Geneva's most popular community gathering spaces—and if you're lucky, you might be able to taste of Penrose's signature wild ales, aged in oak wine barrels.

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Offering outdoor seating and parking lot tailgating with a reservation.

A dry city for nearly four decades, beer and liquor returned to Evanston in the ’70s, but it wasn't until 2013 that the northern Chicago suburb gained its first craft brewery. Named for the anti-booze and -tobacco movement that originated in the city, Temperance is tucked away in an industrial park not far from downtown. Inside, there's a wraparound bar, communal seating and a shuffleboard table, while those willing to venture outdoors can hang out around picnic tables on a patio. If you're hungry, make sure to bring your own food, and if your fridge need to be restocked, you can always grab a sixer of the honey-sweetened Birdsong saison (sporting the artwork of Evanston local Jay Ryan) or the citrus-forward Escapist IPA to bring home.

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Currently offering outdoor seating, first come, first served.

You've likely nursed one of Solemn Oath's Snaggletooth Bandana or Kidnapped By Vikings IPA, but the brewery has expanded its offerings as of late, with solid kölsch and pilsner joining its lineup. It's Naperville taproom is where you can taste the team's latest creations, including barrel-aged selections and cans of its City Water hard seltzer. Solemn Oath also offers a yearly membership program called the Old Order, which gives participants access to its most exclusive brews.

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Offering indoor seating with a reservation.

If you're the kind of beer drinker who is always looking for more options, at More Brewing Company, you'll find 'em. The original Villa Park brewpub (there's another location in Huntley, Illinois) serves milkshake IPAs, fruited sours, lagers, porters and everything in between—More Brewing is a jack of all trades, though its IPAs and sours are probably what you should order first. While you're sampling the latest brews, go ahead and order a round of cheese curds, Italian beef egg rolls and beer-battered shrimp for the table.

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Offering outdoor seating, first come, first served.

Befitting a brewery that boasts a taproom with guitars mounted on the walls and microphones serving as tap handles, Mikerphone likes to have fun with its beer. Step up to the bar and you'll likely to find stouts brewed with maple syrup, cookies and marshmallows alongside ales flavored with berries, bananas and bubblegum. Heck, there's even a rotating beer slushie on the menu. Mikerphone's bold brews are not for everyone, but if you can handle an onslaught of interesting (and sometimes unconventional) flavors, you may need to plan a trip to Elk Grove Village.

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Don't be frightened by Skeleton Key Brewery's name—it's Woodridge taproom is a welcoming place, where you can meet friends for a drink, take a brewing class or start producing your own brand as part of a brewery incubator program. You'll find classic styles with a twist on tap, including a golden ale brewed with toasted coconut and a wheat beer augmented with Meyer lemon and rosehips. If you want to gain access to Skeleton Key's most experimental beers, ask about signing up for the very-exclusive Skullmuggery Society.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, first come, first served.

Located just across the highway from the Argonne National Laboratory where scientists are researching supercomputing and renewable energy, the brewers at Miskatonic are putting their critical thinking skills to work conceiving delicious beer. From a traditional Maibock to an of-the-moment Valkyrie New England IPA packed with juicy hops, this Darien, Illinois brewery doesn't limit itself when it comes to beer styles. Take a seat at the bar for a view of the tanks where Miskatonic liquids are crafted or head to the inner taproom, where board games and a dart board await. And bring along a snack if you're feeling hungry, because there's no kitchen here.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating with a reservation.

Forest Park's first brewery when it opened in 2015, Exit Strategy was—as its name suggests—conceived as a way for husband-and-wife duo Chris and Katherine Valleau to leave law and education, respectively, for the far more lucrative business of making beer. They're still implementing the strategy today, offering a line of traditional Mainstay beers (IPAs, ESBs, porters) alongside more experimental Lab beers (juicy IPAs, kettle sours, fruited ales). Stop by for a pint or a curated flight and dig into some pub grub while you're in the neighborhood, including flatbreads, al pastor sliders and buffalo chicken poutine.

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating, first come, first served.

Influenced by European styles, Church Street Brewing Company is the best place to go in Itasca if you're looking for a Helles lager or a kölsch to drink. The tucked away taproom is small but mighty, with a long list of beers on tap—including some guest taps serving creations from nearby Illinois breweries. If you can't get enough to Church Street's beer, sign up for the weekly growler club to walk away with one to three free growler fills every month (plus a free beer on your birthday).

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Offering indoor and outdoor seating with a reservation.

Looking for a drink near Rosemont? Skip the hotel bar and head to Short Fuse Brewing Company, where there's always more than 20 beers to tap to enjoy while you lounge in comfortable leather couches and chairs. Pair juicy IPAs (there's usually a lot to choose from) with a BLT pizza or an order of ale marinated wings—and don't hesitate to bring a Short Fuse six pack back to your room instead of paying those exorbitant minibar prices.

Find more Chicago breweries

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Can't get out of the city this weekend? Not to worry, there's no shortage of great breweries in Chicago proper. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the best bars in town, you'll find everything from industrial tasting rooms to cozy corner taverns where you can sample the freshest suds. Not sure where to order a flight next? These Chicago breweries and taprooms always having something exciting on tap.

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