There are A TON of breweries in Chicago. Chicagoans really, really, really like their beer. With the current boom of microbrews, virtually any two people can get together, make some beer, and voila! They start a brewery. So, needless to say, there are also a lot of options. Having difficulty deciding where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place: here is a solid place to begin with the itinerary outlined below. All of these breweries can be hit in one day (if you start early) and will take you all around the city. The list is arranged in a logical geographic fashion so you can easily brewery hop from one place to another chronologically.
Corridor – West Lakeview
Both a brewery and a restaurant, this is a great place to start you day as you can get some vittles to go with your pint. And the pints here can be funky – they brew everything here – it’s not like they have a singular focus or concept – whatever goes, they’ll try. Sours, IPAs, ales, there is bound to be something for everyone. With only one year-round offering (recommended below), it keeps people coming back to see what’s new. The food is solid as well – I recommend starting here for brunch and if they have it, order the banana foster waffles with rum caramel. You will not regret it!
Beer to Try: Wizard Fight (American IPA)
Forbidden Root – West town
This brewery is the sort of place you want to return to again and again because you want them so badly to be wildly successful. Their concept is botanical brewing, meaning they use a lot of bark, stems, flowers, herbs, spices, frankly, whatever grows, to be part of their beer. I guarantee it’s unlike anything you’ve likely tried before. Botanic brews used to be commonplace in early America but were replaced in the early 20th century by more standardized products. It’s time to return to our roots and try some of the forbidden root. While you are there, ask for a tour of their onsite brewery, if it’s not busy that day, they are happy to show you around!
Beer to try: Strawberry Basil Hefeweizen
5 Rabbits – Bedford Park
5 Rabbits is the first US-based Latin American inspired brewery. Their tagline is: inspired in Latin America, made in Xicago. What does that mean? Well, it means that if it grows in Latin America, they are likely to have tried to thr
ow it in their beer. Watermelon, prickly pear, passion fruit, coffee, chiles, whatever they feel like. This is a brewery that feels more like you are going into someone’s home brew in their garage rather than a formal brewery. They brewmasters here are largely self taught and are experimenters at heart. Wonder how guava will taste in a wheat beer? Only one way to find out – make it, taste it, sell it, and see what happens.
Beer to Try: ChocoFrut Zarzamora (Chocolate Stout with Blackberry)
Note: the taproom does not serve food but often have a local vendor come in and many local restaurants will deliver.
Baderbrau – South Loop
After the Latin American experience, going to Baderbrau is going back to the roots of European style brewing. This is not a bad thing. Baderbaru’s claim-to-fame is reviving Chicago’s original craft beer: a Czech-style pilsner. They make wheat and lagers primarily but often with a twist. So yes, you can get something unusual here but you can also get a solid pilsner if you want. Or you can try one of their flights to same it all. Either way, it’s a nice way to end the day – they even have some board games to play while you toast to your beer adventures in Chi-Town.
Beer to Try: Red Velvet (Bock)