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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

This is the ultimate Chicago six-pack, according to local beer experts

Think of these six beers (all available year-round) as a crash course in Chicago's craft beer scene

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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With so much amazing beer being produced by Chicago’s best breweries, it's really tough to select just six beers that sum up what makes our local craft scene so special. Instead of spending hours trying to narrow down the crowded field of worthwhile ales, stouts and IPAs, we reached out to some of the city's experts, including folks who run bottle shops, write about beer and manage breweries (though we did disqualify anyone involved with the actual brewing process). After asking our experts to name a couple of their all-time favorite Chicago beers, we narrowed the field to a perfect six-pack of locally produced creations, all of which are currently available year-round. From a funky gose to an aggressively bitter double IPA, we believe that these cans and bottles encapsulate the creative spirit and undeniably quality of craft beer in Chicago.

Six essential Chicago beers

Half Acre Beer Company’s Pony Pilsner
Photograph: Courtesy Half Acre Beer Company

1. Half Acre Beer Company’s Pony Pilsner

"Here's a brewery known for its wide variety of hoppy ales, yet it totally delivers on this clean, crisp, perfectly hopped lager. 'Perfectly hopped,' in the opinion of my bitter-averse palate." —Jess Straka, manager at Off Color Brewing

Revolution Brewing’s Fist City
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

2. Revolution Brewing’s Fist City

“Fist City pale ale reminds me of summer, whether it’s 90° F and humid or -10° F and blustery.”—Shawn Smith, creative director at Twisted Hippo

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Whiner Beer Company’s Miaou
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

3. Whiner Beer Company’s Miaou

“A wild ale that’s refreshing, juicy and a little bit funky, which keeps me coming back for more.”—Charlyn Tara, captain of the Chicago Mikkeller Running Club chapter

Maplewood Brewery’s Fat Pug Oatmeal Milk Stout
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

4. Maplewood Brewery’s Fat Pug Oatmeal Milk Stout

"Packed with lovely notes of dark chocolate, espresso, and creamy oats, Fat Pug is an approachable stout that will certainly bring a smile to your face."—Patrick Bisch, co-owner of the Open Bottle

 

 

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Off Color Brewing’s Troublesome
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

5. Off Color Brewing’s Troublesome

"Sometimes you want a beer that makes you think and sometimes you just want a beer that’s refreshing. Off Color’s beers usually do both, especially this gose-style beer that’s tart and funky with a smooth wheat backbone."—Sarah Freeman, managing editor at October

Pipeworks Brewing’s Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

6. Pipeworks Brewing’s Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA

"One of the first local beers to gain national hype, Pipeworks’ flagship is a big, bold, bitter Double IPA that remains as aggressively delightful now as it was when it first made hopheads’ brains spin."—Austin Harvey, beer buyer for Beermiscuous

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