Chicago loves to drink beer, which likely explains the proliferation of craft breweries in the city over the past decade. Local brewers have been churning out kegs (and cans, and bottles) for years now, supplying the city's dive bars and beer bars with their latest ales, stouts, lagers and more. When they're not making beer, many of Chicago's breweries are pouring it in their taprooms, brewpubs and tasting rooms, where visitors can explore and learn about their offerings. If you want to drink an IPA or sour in the same place it was made, go order a draft at some of our favorite Chicago breweries and taprooms.
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 on site 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.
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.
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 on-site 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.
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 non-profit 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 new 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. It’s dog-friendly, too, so don’t be afraid to bring your pooch. While you won't find pale ales, IPAs or anything super hop-forward here, what it has is very good. If you've already blown through the options on tap, ask for a refreshing radler for a change of pace.
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 and subsequently became a citywide favorite.
The bright, modern space at Hopewell's taproom is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the beer world. Yes, now there's a place where you can throw back a few pints and feel like you're a model in an Ikea catalog. In this vibrant Logan Square brewery, it's not uncommon to see kids running around or happy beer sippers carrying in takeout to pair with a bright and citrusy Swift IPA before a rousing game of Connect Four. But if you don’t want to do takeout, it’s okay. You’ll often find one of the city’s best food trucks parked outside.
Since Forbidden Root’s opening 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.
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.
Located in a corner 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.
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.
Goose Island's Fulton Street location opened up 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 out of 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, cask, bottles, cans and vintage selection.
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 around 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.
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.
The first thing you'll notice upon entering Eris Brewery and Cider House is the historic structure you're inside of—a retrofitted 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 (5-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 serves up a variety of beers in a colorful space attached to the brewery, filled with Latin tunes and board games to keep you occupied. You can also take a tour of the brewery or stop by on Thursdays for a taco. What’s not to love?
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 up food, though you're welcome to order in or bring your own. Make sure to try a pint of the delicious Phobophobia Patersbier (a refreshing Belgian-style table beer), check out the special creations on tap and take home some cans.
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).
In 2008, Half Acre started brewing beer at its Lincoln Avenue brewery to distribute around the city, 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 Space IPA. Beyond that, just drink whatever floats your boat—it’s hard to make a bad choice at Half Acre. Belly up to the bar or squeeze yourself into one of the booths and make yourself at home.
No lie—this spot is a treat for the senses. From the moment you walk in the door and see the decor—choose from plush high-back chairs, deep circular booths or sit at the bar and ogle the old books—you’ll feel a little like royalty. Oh, and then there’s the beer. You can’t go wrong with the Golden Lemongrass Belgian, a rye ale with subtle floral notes, as it’s brewed with lemongrass, cardamom and lavender. Or go all in with the beer flight so you can try a bit of each of the five beers on tap at the time.
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, which includes a one-hour vinyasa class followed by some beer.
If you're not a fan of hop-forward beers, 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.
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 an English bitters in the space, which is dog-friendly and features a collection of board games for adults and kids.
Baderbräu Brewing Company isn’t exactly new to the Chicago craft-beer scene—its beers have been around the city since 2012. But now the brand has its own massive brewery and taproom space, with 10 beers in rotation at all times. Three of those beers are the brewery’s flagships—Chicago Pilsener, South Side Pride and High Noon—and most have an easy-drinking ABV. To top it off, the South Side taproom is ridiculously cool to look at, boasting a huge mural of a psychedelic phoenix from local artist Brian Keller and a view overlooking the brewery floor.
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.
Learn more about beer on these brewery tours
There are dozens of breweries in Chicago, and many offer tours, which range from a booze-fueled, hours-long lesson on beermaking to quick and dirty 20-minute overviews. We tagged along on local brewery tours, where we learned a few things about brewing and drank more than a few pints of great local beer.