Best breweries in Chicago
Half Acre outgrew its original brewery in Lincoln Park years ago, moving most of its production to a warehouse just west of Andersonville. It took a few more years for it to open up a taproom in the space, but it was worth the wait. More than double the size of Half Acre's Lincoln Park taproom (which is still open for business), the Balmoral location contains a large indoor bar with plenty of seating and a garden patio with picnic tables—perfect for sipping a fresh Daisy Cutter when it's warm outside. There's also a kitchen onsite that serves a menu of roasted meats and veggies that you can eat yourself or share among a group. Plus, there are beers on tap that are exclusive to this outpost—if you're a local beer completist, you'll have to drink at both Half Acre taprooms.
The folks making strange brews at Off Color have heard your demands and opened the brand's very first taproom, located just down the street from iO Theater. The Mousetrap boasts 16 draft lines and an assortment of beers that are brewed in-house (Apex Predator, Scurry) as well as some guest drafts. There's also a selection of cocktails inspired by Off Color beers (including one that's served with a bite of caviar) and an onsite bottle shop where you can pick up some souvenirs. Bring your own snacks, take a seat and sample some of the most creative beer being made in Chicago.
Echoing the stylish designs of its bottles and cans, the home of Marz Community Brewing serves the brewery's latest creations in a transformed warehouse space. Founded by some of the same folks behind Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar in Bridgeport, the taproom boasts a circular bar and plenty of tables where you can sit back and enjoy Jungle Boogie pale wheat ale or a Bubbly Kriek Berliner Weisse. If you work up an appetite, order from a menu of tavern-inspired delicacies, including a fried bologna sandwich and citra-hopped pasta.
Don't come to the Whiner Beer Company taproom expecting extremely bitter IPAs or hefty stouts—co-founders Brian Taylor and Ria Neri are more interested in sour and Belgian beers. Very few other brewers in Chicago are making an apple-infused Kölsch (Et La Tête) or a bière garde that uses experimental Hüll Melon hops (Rubrique a Brac). The small taproom is housed in the Plant, a nonprofit net-zero energy food production space situated in an old warehouse in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. If you wholeheartedly embrace funky and singular brews, go ahead and grab a flight.
On Tour Brewing hadn't even been open for a year when it walked away with two medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival. The accolades have established the West Loop brewery as a destination for locals and tourists alike, who fill the elegant space to drink owner Mark Legenza's music-inspired IPAs, Belgian beers and pilsners. The bright, airy taproom also features regular live music, grub from local food trucks, brewery tours conducted by Legenza and a couple of TVs so you can keep up on the score of the game.
With delicious European-style beers like hefeweizen, lagers and rauchbier, Dovetail Brewery is the best spot for beer geeks who want to learn a bit about old-school Munich brewing techniques. The space is large, with a revolving cast of food trucks parked outside and it’s dog-friendly, too, so don’t be afraid to bring your pooch. While you won't find pale ales, IPAs or anything extremely hop-forward here, your palette will be satisfied in different ways by the lineup of German-inspired suds. If you've already blown through the options on tap, ask for a refreshing radler for a change of pace.
The bright, modern space at Hopewell's taproom is a breath of fresh air in a city filled with quasi-industrial brewpubs. With wood-paneled walls and long, pristine tables, you can throw back a few pints in this Logan Square brewery and feel like you're a model in an Ikea catalog. It's not uncommon to see kids running around or happy beer sippers carrying in takeout (nearby restaurant Mini Mott will even deliver its burgers to Hopewell) to pair with a bright and citrusy Swift IPA before a rousing game of Connect Four.
Views of the Chicago River fill the floor-to-ceiling windows at Metropolitan Brewing's Avondale taproom, where there's room for nearly 100 people to sip beer and enjoy the scenery. The brewery's output is focused on German-style lagers, including the Krankshaft Kölsch and Dynamo Vienna lager. While there's no food served at the taproom, guests are welcome to order grub from nearby restaurants like Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Kuma's Corner and DMen Tap.
Whereas most breweries boast rustic, minimalistic taprooms, Moody Tongue's tasting room embraces a more lush aesthetic that's in line with the bold and luxurious flavors of its beers. Sit down in a blue velvet chair, grab a leather stool at the white marble bar and settle into the extravagant space. Mainstays like the Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison and the Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter are always available, alongside a food menu that only features two items: German chocolate cake and fresh oysters. Here's hoping you're a fan of things that are salty and sweet.
After eight years of contract brewing, Middle Brow Beer Co. finally has a home of its own on a bustling stretch of Armitage Avenue in Logan Square. Sporting rustic brick walls, a trio of foeders (giant wooden barrels used to age beer) looming over the dining area and a spacious bar, Bungalow tries to create a welcoming environment for guests to sample Middle Brow's experimental brews. In the morning, toast topped with cream cheese, fruit and honey is the main attraction, served alongside coffee and beer. Thin crust pizzas piled with toppings fill tables in the evening, with the action spilling out onto the patio when the weather cooperates. Go ahead and order an extra pint, because 50 percent of all Middle Brow profits are donated to local social-justice organizations.
An offshoot of DryHop Brewers, Corridor Brewery & Provisions has quickly established itself as a destination for drinkers on the bustling Southport Corridor. Recently, the brewery started amassing an impressive haul of awards from the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, including medals for its Belgian-style creations and a hazy double IPA. We recommend ordering a flight of any beers that catch your eye and digging into a pizza, topped with roasted Brussels sprouts or barbecue pork. Much like DryHop, Corridor is typically crowded, so plan accordingly—especially if you're showing up for brunch.
Located in a section of the brewery's Logan Square production facility, Maplewood's taproom is clearly inspired by the corner bars that are scattered throughout Chicago's neighborhoods. The unassuming lounge is stocked with candlelit tables, a bar with views of the brewery's equipment and a fridge where you can grab bottles and cans to take home. Aside from lots of beer, the menu includes cocktails (made with Maplewood's own spirits) and a selection of food, such as corn dogs, poutine and a cheeseburger.
Meshing with its depiction in the 2013 film Drinking Buddies, Revolution Brewery is a place with plenty of space for enjoying beers with friends (and maybe, just maybe, falling in love with one of them). The Avondale warehouse usually has some of the freshest Revolution beer on tap and also offers cans and growlers to go, if you want to bring some crisp Anti-Hero IPA home. If you're hungry, you'll need to head to Revolution's brewpub in Logan Square, where you can chow down on burgers and pizza in the building where the brewery started.
Goose Island's Fulton Street location opened long before Anheuser Busch bought the craft brewer, and features a list of the brewery's most well-known offerings (Four Star Pils, Goose IPA, 312 and the like) as well as a few taproom-only releases from the Fulton & Wood program. The space is modern and provides tours regularly, including a peek into the Matilda room, separated from the rest of the brewery to keep the wild yeast from contaminating other beers. Stop by for a tour or a taste of one of the eight beers on tap, as well as bottles, cans and vintage selection (including sought-after Bourbon County Brand Stout).
Look for the sticks of dynamite on flags adorning a nondescript office park in Sauganash, and you'll know that you've stumbled upon the Alarmist Brewing taproom, which also happens to be the neighborhood's only bar. The industrial space houses a bar with two English beer engines which pour Alarmist's cast-conditioned beers. You won't find TVs on the walls and there's no kitchen serving food, though you're welcome to order in or bring your own. Make sure to try a pint of the award-winning Le Jus New England IPA, check out the special creations on tap and take home some cans.
Looking to treat yourself to an especially indulgent evening at a brewery? Snag a reservation at Band of Bohemia, the first brewpub to earn a coveted Michelin star. Sit down in one of the plush high-back chairs or a circular booth and peruse the menu, which includes dishes like lobster ravioli and duck leg roulade alongside the Noble Raven Belgian pale ale and the Jasmine Rice lager. Band of Bohemia's prix fixe menu is a great way to eat your way through the kitchen's greatest hits—you can even add an optional beer pairing for each of the dishes. While tables are often at a premium, walk-ins are always welcome and guests can order from the entire menu at the brewpub's bar.
Situated on the same block as Half Acre's Balmoral brewery, the Spiteful Brewing taproom takes a more understated approach than its expansive neighbor while providing another good reason for beer lovers to flock to Bowmanville. Visitors can sit at a long wooden bar, grab a table or throw some darts while enjoying Spiteful staples such as the Working For the Weekend double IPA and the God Damn Pigeon Porter. When the weather is warm, the garage doors that line the front of the building go up and the quasi-outdoor drinking commences.
Easily accessible from the Montrose Blue Line stop, Old Irving Brewing provides a place on the far North Side to grab a beer and a delicious bite to eat. The gastropub's menu comes from Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday), who serves house-made beer cheese brats and waffle fries covered in sausage gravy. The beer nearly plays second fiddle to the cuisine, but you'll want to save room to try the Della Kölsch and the Galactic Tangerine DIPA (or at least take home a bomber from the cooler).
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales' Hyde Park outpost is the Michigan-based brewery's first out-of-state location, bringing its array of oak barrel-aged beers to Chicago's South Side. The interior of the taproom reflects the origin of the brewery's output, with wooden slats decorating the walls and a gigantic barrel in the corner of the room that contains a table for guests. The beer menu is stacked with sours and the food options include pizzas, sandwiches and an impressive array of vegan and vegetarian dishes (including a Jackfruit BBQ sandwich and a vegan pizza made with basil pesto). While the cuisine at Jolly Pumpkin is a step above run-of-the-mill pub grub, most people come here for the beer, not the turkey and gouda sandwich
In 2008, Half Acre started brewing beer at its Lincoln Avenue brewery, before opening a taproom next door in 2012. Daisy Cutter, a West Coast pale ale, is the one you’ll most often find around the city, but the brewery is more than just a one-trick pony. We’re suckers for the Pony Pilsner and anything that comes out of the expanding wild program. Beyond that, drink whatever floats your boat—it’s hard to make a bad choice at Half Acre—even the burrito menu is packed with great options.
"Embrace your strange," reads the gigantic mural that graces the side of the Twisted Hippo Taproom and Eatery in Albany Park. It's a fitting motto for a brewery that's clearly trying to find its own among Chicago's crowded brewing scene and establish itself as a destination for beer fiends in an area of the city devoid of taprooms. Twisted Hippo's menu tries to appeal to drinkers who might be turned off by conventional IPAs and lagers, offering a stout brewed with peanut butter and an Italian plum saison. There's a menu of standard brewpub fare (wings, burgers, pretzels and fried cheese curds) if you're hungry, and you don't need to worry about tax or tip—Twisted Hippo's prices are "all-inclusive," with gratuity and fees factored in. Save your singles for the 10-player Killer Queen arcade machine located on the brewery's second level.
This hopping brewery is just what East Lakeview needed. The rotating selection of house beers includes IPAs, wheats and pale ales, and a flight of each draft offering is an easy way to find a favorite (but don't get too attached, as brews are frequently replaced). The food menu encourages sharing with dishes like the bacon poutine with sausage gravy, sweet and sour beer battered Brussels sprouts and honey sriracha wings, while the tomato jam-topped burger is a new classic. Get there early and keep your eyes peeled for bar seats—DryHop gets crowded and the wait for a table only makes it feel more like the place to be.
This is where it all started for Goose Island back in 1988, when founder John Hall opened a brewpub and began making beer inspired by what he drank while traveling through Europe. While Goose Island has grown considerably over the past three decades, it hasn't outgrown its home on Clybourn Avenue, where guests can still have a pint and enjoy a meal. An extensive makeover in 2017 added additional taps to the brewpub's main bar, filled the space with dark wooden accents and added a stack of barrels to the decor—a reminder that this was the place in which the first keg of Goose Island's famous Bourbon County Brand Stout was tapped.
Since Forbidden Root opened in early 2016, we've been fascinated with the beers perpetually switching out on the menu, and the crazy elixirs you can add to them. All of the beers have a botanical element and use local ingredients, from sarsaparilla to sassafras. It’s Chicago’s first “botanic brewery,” and it’s making beers like no one else. But intriguing brews aren’t the only reason we love Forbidden Root—the West Town brewery also has a delightful front room with stools by large windows that open onto Chicago Avenue for prime people-watching on a nice day.
You won't find a brewery on this list that's larger than Lagunitas' Midwest stronghold near Douglas Park, which pumps out 600,000 barrels of beer each year. Seriously, it's gigantic. Upon entering, guests are treated to a psychedelic light show (soundtracked by Gene Wilder's classic “Pure Imagination”) before ascending to the taproom which is suspended above the brewery floor. You'll find nearly every Lagunitas beer on tap, accompanied by a small food menu, free baskets of peanuts and pretzels and some occasional live music. Free tours are offered every day, winding across the catwalks that overlook the bottling line, fermentation tanks and other beer-making implements.
Noted Chicago chef Rick Bayless turns his attention to beer at this small West Loop brewery, which houses a 10-barrel system that produces a variety of interesting beverages. Wash down your tacos with a German-style Berliner Weisse or chase some guacamole with the brewery's signature Tocayo hominy wheat ale—a crisp riff on a Belgian-style witbier. Many of the drafts are served in pitchers, there's always a shot combo and you can take some beer home in a howler to pair with your leftovers.
The first thing you'll notice upon entering Eris Brewery and Cider House is the historic structure you're inside of—a renovated church that dates back more than a century. Sleek booths, tables and a bar outfit the two-level space, offering no shortage of places to peruse the menu of house-made ciders and beers (five-ounce pours will allow you to taste more of the selection). If you're hungry, the kitchen serves bacon-wrapped sausages and steak frites, which should obviously be accompanied by even more beer and cider.
This Bedford Park cerveceria is the first U.S.-based Latin American–inspired brewery, with a lineup of beers that correspond to specific days in the Aztec calendar (5 Flower, 5 Grass, 5 Lizard and 5 Vulture). While you can find 5 Rabbit beers at bars and bottle shops throughout the city, making the trek just past Midway Airport is worth the trip. The taproom is located in a colorful space attached to the brewery, where Latin music blasts from the speakers and collection of board games is stacked in a corner. You can also take a tour of the brewery or stop by on Thursdays for taco night.
If hop-forward beers aren't something you enjoy imbibing, Lo Rez should be on your list of places to grab a drink. The Pilsen brewery is run by a couple of former tech-industry workers who avoid overly bitter styles, focusing instead on Belgian ales, stouts and lagers. The results are served in a sparse, 19th-century building that welcomes visitors to sample approachable beers among friends.
Located just down the street from Dovetail, Begyle's taproom is filled with board games, a couple of Skee-Ball machines and plenty of beer to drink on site or take home. The most interesting feature of this bar is its Community Supported Brewery membership program, which allows visitors to purchase a subscription that entitles them to one or two growlers of beer each month (and some additional perks). The space also hosts beer yoga each Sunday, allowing guests to take a one-hour vinyasa class followed by some suds.
In the late 1800s, the South Loop was an area known for its gambling, prostitution and opium dens—a region that the city dubbed a "vice district." Inspired by the history of the neighborhood, Vice District Brewing's taproom is filled with vintage photos and street maps, but the beer being made here is decidedly modern. You'll find guests (and, on game days, Bears fans) drinking Black IPAs and English bitters in the space, which is dog-friendly and features a collection of board games for adults and kids.