Just a few years ago, every brewery opening in Chicagoland was a banner event. Now, it’s hard to keep up with the city’s vibrant brewery scene: The number has topped 100. Chicago craft beer lovers, we got lucky. But for every Lagunitas and Half Acre, you’ll also find an amazing lesser-known brewery that could blow your mind and palate—if only you knew about it. These five Chicago breweries may not be household names yet, but with one sip, you’ll see why they deserve more attention. Trust us.
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The next time you head to Goose Island’s location at Fulton & Wood Streets, you’ll pass All Rise Brewing, located inside Cobra Lounge. Stop in for a pint—brewer Tommy Nicely (Goose Island, Half Acre) brews 12 wide-ranging house beers for the on-site taproom, but it’s hard not to beeline for the Three Orange Wit, a spicy, citrus-forward nod to the order placed by John Candy’s character in The Blues Brothers.
This brewery only opened in April 2015, but it brings with it a helluva lot of experience: Brewer Bryan Shimkos honed his craft for years locally at Flossmoor, Rock Bottom and Ale Syndicate. The beers adhere to traditional styles while “also keeping up with American craft styles,” says co-owner Alan Cromwell. Grab creatively named beers like the pre-Prohibition-style Massive Political Corruption ale (“Can I have some Massive Political Corruption, please?”) at the taproom or at 40 locations throughout the area.
Brewer David Kelley and two friends relocated Blue Nose from Justice to Hodgkins in late July and opened the taproom, where you can find beers that strike a balance between simple and complex—the brewery’s goal—like a big Belgian tripel with honey and a smoky, spicy chipotle stout. Beers with limited distribution are available as well, so look out for the most notable brew around town—Pipa, a lager brewed with 45 percent corn, an ingredient that a few in the craft world are starting to take back from macrobrewers.
When you think of Wheaton, you likely think of churches, Billy Graham, a distinct lack of dancing and the fact that the town was completely dry until 1985. Hence the name of Dry City Brew Works, which experiments with beers at its tasting room (think Ginger Saison or Smoked Pumpkin Porter). Beers rotate often, but if you see the Providence Coffee Stout, grab it.
Lunar has been around since 1996, well before the craft beer explosion, in a tiny corner pub near downtown Villa Park. With more than 40 ever-changing recipes—brewed on a small scale in old-fashioned soup kettles—the brewery regularly offers its excellent Moondance IPA on draft at the bar alongside an oatmeal export stout on nitro and fruity options such as the Raspberry Cream Ale.