Drinks

A Cheat Sheet to Chicago's Best Breweries

From Michelin-starred brewpubs to a warehouse also distilling single-malt whiskey
Best Chicago Breweries Map 2018
Photo: Band of Bohemia via Facebook

There was a time when heading to a Chicago brewery meant choosing between Goose Island, Lagunitas and Revolution—all solid choices, but now no longer the only options. With more taprooms cropping up each year, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. So we've done the legwork for you. Here are the five worth prioritizing.

For a Posh Experience:

Moody Tongue

Don't expect wooden benches and the smell of stale hops at this South Side brewery. Moody Tongue is ushering in a new era of refined drinking with what brewmaster Jared Rouben calls culinary brewing—a technique hewn from his time spent in the kitchen of two-Michelin-starred restaurants that incorporates the flavor profiles of food into his beers. On the tap list are selections including a caramelized chocolate churro Baltic Porter and a black truffle pilsner, served up in a tasting room resembling a high-end furniture showroom. As for food, the menu is limited: just German chocolate cake and fresh oysters.

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For a Michelin Meal to Match:

Band of Bohemia

Food is no longer an afterthought on the brewery scene, and Band of Bohemia has the Michelin star (a first for a brewpub) to prove it. Like its name suggests, this Ravenswood spot has a laid-back, hippie vibe, thanks to a rich, jewel-toned color palette, velvet furniture and Victorian fixtures that act as the backdrop for a concise dinner and drink menu. Expect a handful of rotating beers on tap like the Thai Saison, Noble Raven Ale and Pear Fenugreek Wheat to pair with a tasting menu consisting of sea urchin, spiced duck and a Thai lime pie. 

 

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For a Back-to-Basics Experience:

Metropolitan Brewing

If you prefer a no-frills locale, then head to Metropolitan Brewing for German-style lagers. The expansive floor plan is perfect for groups, families and folks with dogs, while floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of the Chicago River. There are no dining options currently available, but guests are encouraged to bring their own food.


For When You Can't Decide:

Maplewood Brewery & Distillery

Maplewood Brewery & Distillery has a solution for when your party is split between drink preferences, as it's the only brewery and distillery in Chicago housed under one roof. If hunger strikes, pork belly poutine, beer-battered cheese curds and a gussied-up corn dog from The Publican are available to soak up the house-made oatmeal stout and single-malt whiskey.  


For an Educational Experience:

Whiner Beer Co.

If you want to do more than drink a beer, head to Whiner Beer Co. in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The brewery is housed in The Plant, a net-zero energy business incubator, where spent beer grains are used to fuel an anaerobic digester to produce power for the entire building.

 

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Ximena N. Larkin is a writer and communication strategist based in Chicago. Find her at @XimenaLarkin on Instagram and Twitter.

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