Chicago Has a Craft Beer Scene. Here’s Where to GoBy Nicole Schnitzler
Chicago has long loved its on-draft drinking, but a recent boom in the craft beer scene has the city proving its devotion to suds in spades — and in more than 60 breweries across town. From an Uptown Michelin-starred brewpub to a South Side art gallery-meets-ale house, here are seven of Chicago’s best craft beer spots to sip through now.
Drink well at this Lakeview institution, and feel good in the process — in addition to being named the first certified organic brewery in Illinois, Greenstar Brewing was recognized as having the first certified organic rooftop farm in the country (and was ranked as the number one “Greenest Restaurant in the World” by the Green Restaurant Association, to boot).
Visit for any of the venue’s live music nights and choose from a dozen organic brews, including rotating favorites like the Spaceship IPA, Mutti’s Kölsch and Mixmaster Mocha Porter.
Band of Bohemia
The team behind this Michelin-starred brewpub takes a culinary approach to its beers, thoughtfully considering how the end result will pair up with the plates it puts forth.
Case in point are Band of Bohemia’s options like the Autumn by Nature, a deep amber ale with flavors of roasted sweet potatoes and cocoa nibs (to accompany their wild boar agnolotti) or the Jasmine Rice Ale, a light offering that can hold its own when met with bold flavors (like those in the braised short rib with kimchi and fermented plum).
Be on the lookout for their seasonal Rootsbeer Stout, a strong melding of winter-forward flavors, from molasses and bay leaves to cinnamon and candied ginger.
Flavor is paramount at this brewpub, where head brewer Nickodemus Williams actively seeks out some of the food world’s most prized ingredients to concoct sips that are as surprising as they are approachable.
Taste that handiwork in Forbidden Root’s creations like the Strawberry Basil Hefeweizen or the Fernetic, an imperial black ale incorporating industry-beloved Fernet-Branca alongside flavors of rhubarb root, wormwood and star anise.
Maplewood Brewery & Distillery
This Logan Square hangout functions as both a brewery and distillery — making it the ultimate spot to sample an array of beer cocktails.
Those looking to keep it simple are in good hands, too — the team behind Maplewood Brewery offers more than a dozen on-tap brews at any given time, most of which demonstrate their signature hoppy style.
Try the Son of Juice IPA, an aromatic and easy-drinking option, or the Charlatan American Pale Ale, a citrus-driven and bright pour that pairs well with any of their gastropub fare (from corn dogs to poutine).
Marz Community Brewing
A visit to this Bridgeport brewery is also a glimpse into its team’s many neighboring creative projects, including a community bar (Maria’s Packaged Goods), an art gallery (the Co-Prosperity Sphere) and a radio station (Lumpen Radio).
All of that activity ensures a lively taproom experience — as do the beers themselves, a collection of experimental styles ranging from barrel-aged sours to pastry stouts. Don’t miss the Jungle Boogie, a fruit-forward pale wheat ale boasting a proprietary blend of teas.
Before opening this Pilsen beer haven, Moody Tongue’s head brewmaster Jared Rouben attended the Culinary Institute of America and worked at some of the country’s top restaurants, including Martini House in Napa, California, and Per Se in New York.
As such, expect culinary-centric creations here, from the refreshing (peeled grapefruit pilsner, sliced nectarine IPA) to the decadent (caramelized chocolate churro porter, shaved black truffle pilsner).
Just two items make up the food menu — one salty (oysters), one sweet (chocolate cake) — each of which boasts its own pairing potential with the on-tap offerings. Enjoy all of it in lush surroundings — a sleek tasting room features a fireplace, mid-century modern decor and stemware pours only.
Piece Brewery and Pizzeria
Come for the pies and stay for the pints at this Wicker Park pizzeria-meets-brewpub, which has garnered 28 medals over the years at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival.
Book a table to taste a fleet of winners and finalists (e.g., The Weight, an American pale ale; the Swingin’ Single, a Belgian ale; and the Golden Arm, a kölsch), and put in a few pizza orders while you’re at it — namely the New Haven–style, the venue’s specialty, with red sauce, garlic and Parmesan.