Breakroom Brewery (Photo: Ten Photos)
Like much of the country, Chicago has seen a craft-brewing renaissance in the last decade. Following the lead of Goose Island, many upstart breweries have emerged in the next-gen wave of brewers, popping up all over Chicago offering a range of styles and tastes.
Some breweries, like 3 Floyds and Piece, have gotten national attention and many awards. Others, like Revolution and Moody Tongue come from veterans of Goose Island and are shaking up the brewing world. Even major player Lagunitas Brewing Company from California set up a massive brewery in the Douglas Park neighborhood. You could spend days hitting all the places, but here are a few to get your Chicago beer tour started.
For Pale Ale Among Friends: Half Acre Beer Co.
Half Acre Beer Co. (Photo: Ten Photos)
Launching as a one-man operation in 2006, Half Acre has gone on to become one of Chicago’s major beer players. Its North Center three-tank, 19-fermentation-vessel brewery has spawned an on-site store where you can buy growlers, cans, T-shirts, hats and more and an adjacent tap room, where you can sample numerous beers on tap (if you want food, they don’t serve it, but allow you to order in).
The friendly tap room environment attracts beer fanatics and locals from neighboring family-friendly Lincoln Square to sip pints of a rotating selection of about 10 beers that usually includes their Daisy Cutter pale ale.
Swing by each Friday for Firkin Friday, here they tap a 10-gallon firkin filled with a different surprise beer each week Want a tour? Arrive early Saturday morning and the first 60 people in line get a $10 two-hour tour with ample tastings in a Half Acre pint glass starting at 11 a.m.
For Extra Hop in Your Mug: Revolution Brewing
Revolution Brewing (Photo: Ten Photos)
Talk about a brewery living up to its name: Revolution Brewing, set in the Logan Square neighborhood, came out of the gate with a vengeance and quickly became of the city’s top contenders for best brewery, especially if you like your beer hoppy.
The brewpub opened first in 2010, offering more than a dozen beers on tap and an extensive menu. But then founder Josh Deth, who also owns Wicker Park vegetarian spot Handlebar, needed to spread his wings so he opened a separate 60-barrel brewery on the city’s Northwest Side, a little more than a mile from the brewpub.
The brewery offers free tours Wednesday through Sunday (space is limited) and has a tap room where hipsters and hop lovers can taste through the approximately 50 beers produced annually. While the offerings are vast, check out the Anti-Hero IPA and the Double Fist pale ale to get a great idea to Revolution’s style.
For Flavor With Flair: BreakRoom Brewery
BreakRoom Brewery (Photo: Ten Photos)
One of Chicago’s newest, and most highly anticipated, breweries, BreakRoom Brewery opened with a splash in late March of 2015, with a well-managed beer list and a menu from celebrated local chef Dirk Flanigan.
The building shares space with Heineman Bar Company, which has crafted bar tops for numerous local businesses, and its finery is seen throughout BreakRoom’s taproom. Large windows give a glimpse into Heineman’s workshop as well as the brewery’s intimate tank room. Guests to the Albany Park brewpub can taste through lower-alcohol beers, some with lower-hop bitterness, but lots of flavor.
Check out the Demure Charm Pale Ale or the Artis Dream IPA, a less-hoppy beer with nice citrus notes. If you’re looking for something light and summery, the Berliner Weiss Makellos is for you, and you can even add one of BreakRoom’s fruit syrups to craft your own fruit beer.