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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Not Rated.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & BreweryRock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Based on:
466 Beers
3,149 Hads
Place Score: 87
Reviews: 68
Visits: 114
Avg: 3.84
pDev: n/a
Taps: 12
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

1 W Grand Ave
Chicago, Illinois, 60654-4806
United States
phone: (312) 755-9339 | map

Notes:  Linked Beer Listing
Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Reviews: 68 | Visits: 114
Photo of jrallen34
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

This brewery is located smack dab in the middle of downtown Chicago. Being such its always busy which sucks and forever has has annoying construction around making it tough to get in and out.

The atmosphere is nothing special, its a a regular busy restaurant with a couple tvs throughout. Its too busy and cramped for me.

The quality is ok, they have decent beers of their own making. However, the quality and selection of guest beers is severely lacking.

The service is ok. They are not beer people, but nice enough. Cannot offer you good suggestions.

The selection is pretty weak, usually only 5-6 of their brews and not much of a choice of anything else.

The food bar food, and average at that. For the restaurant it is, it should be a lot better.

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Photo of jamescain
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Happened to be walking and saw this place and decided to have dinner there (can't go to a new city and not visit a brewery). They let you try the beer, which is brewed at location, so that was nice. The food was decent, not bad but not exceptionally good. Then best beer that I tried was the Terminal Stout, but other than that the other beers were a little flavorless. The cask ale was old and had a watery taste to it and the IPA was the worst IPA I have ever had, tasted like lemonade. But other than that it was a nice place, although I probably won't go back, too many other places in Chicago.

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Photo of mymrnngjckt
2.64/5  rDev -31.3%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5

Stopped here on a recent visit to Chicago. Only two block from my hotel. Walked in and was able to find the bar after walking around trying to find the bathroom which happened to be upstairs. The bar was pretty packed for a Monday night. Found two seats and ordered up some drinks. The service was OK. The selection was unimpressive. Usual house offerings with only two other offering. Settled on the Hoppy Summer. The beer tasted slightly better than home brew. I thought the place was overly dark like the all of the other Rock Bottom breweries I have been to. All in all, an OK place to stop if you are in the area.

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Photo of fbinla
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Two problems with this place, the food is mediocre, the menu is reasonable size, but is just a step up from Chillis . The bathrooms are up two flights on stairs and down a hall. I hate walking up them after a few beers and it's just inconvenient and poorly thought out.

The service is good, very nice people, helpful when changing orders etc.

However the beer here is just great, every time i come here they have excellent specials that taste amazing, not just some half thought out recipe to put as a special on the black board, but great beers obviously from a very strong brewer who really knows what he is doing. I suggest come for the beer, and if you are drunk and need some snacks eat the food at that point nothing could ruin your day.

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Photo of beertooth
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

The food is on par with Applebee's or some place like that and is a little overpriced. Although, they do have some cheaper lunch specials. The crowd gets loud and is mostly made up of loopers having a beer after work, or at least when I've been there.

The beer is the best thing about this place. Pete is a great brewer and pulls off some wonderful barrel aged beers and great stouts. I've had some tasty IPAs there as well. With that in mind, the beer selection is hit or miss. Sometimes they'll have some special stuff on and sometimes not.

It's worth a stop for a couple of mugs if you're in the loop, but skip the food and try to block out the crowd.

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Photo of ClubberLang
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

My wife and I have been in here numerous times. The food varies -- some things have been very good, some just 'meh', but the reason we come in is the beer. Pete (brewmaster) is simply outstanding at the barrel aged beers, you will be hard-pressed to find someone better across a variety of styles to be barrel aged (and if you don't believe me, believe all his wins at FoBAB). The guy just gets the process and how to make something that will age well. The dry-hopped oatmeal stout is another standout, if it is on tap there when you are in it is strongly recommended. The alt brewed with Chicago Beer Society members last year was excellent, and I'm hoping it makes a regular appearance - I saw a sticke alt on the monthly list for later this year, so I'm crossing my fingers that it's the same recipe. If it's the same, it's your best chance to have a fresh Dusseldorf-style alt outside of going to Dusseldorf itself, rather than the numerous "altbiers" that are sweet with no hop bite.

If you're in from out of town during the warmer weather, grab one of the specialty beers from the main bar and head upstairs a couple of floors to the rooftop (you'll have to drink your beer out of a plastic cup), it gives you a nice view. There's a bar up there too but they don't have the full number of beers that they'll have at the main bar.

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Photo of GRPunk
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I visited Rock Bottom for both lunch (fairy empty) and a late dinner (pretty busy) during a weekend in Chicago.

The atmosphere was pretty decent. The building and location were great. Multi-floor, brick building with lots of wood and stone accents. Upstairs were the bathrooms and what looked like conference or banquet areas. Downstairs was the bar and dining area (which I never sat in...see below). The bar had a bunch of televisions, but they were all on a horse race undercard for lunch and Sportscenter at dinner. For me a sports bar is all or nothing. Either get a bunch of different games going (or the big ticket match) or don't bother.

There beers were pretty good. I had a red and an IPA. The red was really good, the IPA was pretty bad (either too young or way over-hopped).

Service was decent. During both the lunch and dinner visit we were greated at the door and asked how many were in the party. Both times we were also told to find a seat in the bar. I'm not sure why we weren't offered a spot in the dining area, but no big whoop. During the lunch the place wasn't busy. It took forever to get a beer, but our food came really quickly. The server told us about the special, but also suggested we try their version of a domestic light (a little disappointed there). At dinner things took longer, but our server came back to check up on us a lot. She didn't mention the specials.

About a dozen or so beers on tap. A nice variety of regular offerings, seasonals, and special one-time brews.

Food was hit or miss. Had a good burger and fries for lunch and about the most bland Rueben sandwich for dinner.

It was a bit pricey. I assume I'll pay a bit more in a bigger city, but they seemed to overdo it a bit. Regular pints were in the $5.50-$6 range with specialties going for a bit more. The special was a pint of their red for $3 (good deal in my book).

I'd go back with a group that wanted some beers with a meal, but I wouldn't make a trip just hit this place again.

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Photo of Clembo1957
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

We visited Rock Bottom on a busy Thursday evening but were found a table in the corner by the friendly Server with no problem. The server was excellent and knew his beer so i ordered a beer sampler (or possibly two...)

I had Chicago gold (5.2), Lake Drive Light (3.9), Rotating Walleye Wheat (5.0), Erik the Red Ale (5.5), Crowley's Irish American Stout (4.0), Double Diamond Double IPA (9.0) Neil Diamond IPA (7.0) Bowdon Barrel Aged Imperial ale (11.0)i think, by then my handwriting was a bit indecipherable! I also had a massive steak meal which was excellent.

Rock Bottom is handy for The Loop, downtown and The Holiday Inn Express where we were staying. Excellent food, a good selection of beers, friendly staff but i imagine it gets very busy at weekends.

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Photo of Yetiman420
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Stopped in for a couple of pints with a colleague after dinner (up the street in old town).

Very large bar area and very crowded for 9:30 on a Tuesday night.

They had about 8 beers on tap but no hoppy IPA which is what I'm after.

I had a red that was described as aggressively hopped with centennial and I think cascade but I didn't pick up much of it in the beer. Also had a Chicago gold that was a pale ale in the pac nw style and was a pretty good session beer. Ended with the smoked juniper porter which was nice and would have been much better served on a beer engine.

Good location to grab a beer right off the Mag Mile. There's also a Binney's right around the corner.

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Photo of Getinthevan
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I went here about two weeks ago and overall it was a nice place. The food was pretty spot on, even though it was a bit on the pricey side. The deal for the day I went were $3 Walleye Wheats. Needless to say, I ordered a few and the brews themselves weren't too bad. I had never heard of this brewery until a colleague of me referred me to it.

Overall, it's a nice place. It's in a good downtown location and the beer is refreshing. It's a bit expensive however and you really have to plan ahead for a place of this caliber. Great times are to be had here however and you can't go wrong with that at all!

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I regret not visiting this place more often, the regular selections of beers are good, but the seasonals, and especially the barrel aged beer are some of the best I've had.

The prices are reasonable considering the location, and the food is quite good.

I experience very good service whenever I am in here, the bartenders are friendly and helpful.

I would say this is my favorite Rock Bottom due to the quality beer and the east accessibility from public transit. I recommend a visit, it is very much worth it.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

I was staying at the Embassy Suites down the street so this place was the nearest beerworthy joint. Went there on two occasion and although I was please with the overall experience, I wasnt really expecting much from this chain. I will say this was my best experience of the chain.

Went on Friday night and it was slammed with thirtysomethings so service was really bad. Ordered a Belgian Wit and received a pale ale. It thought it would be okay when the server said "This one is on us". Whenever I got the bill, there was the wrong beer on there. I knew if I disputed it would take 30 minutes so I accepted the beer anyway (my wife drank it). Went on Saturday afternoon for a LATE lunch (like 2pm) and service was still pretty lame although the joint was pretty empty.

Beers were actually pretty good. I had the American Stout, the pale ale, the Belgian Wit, a 13 anniversary ale, and a HopFunWeizen (american wheat) and all were enjoyable with the stout being my favorite.

Chose a mushroom swiss burger that was pretty good. Fries were kind of old and cold and chewy due to the late lunch.

Pricey beers but I guess that is Chicago. Most were in the $5-$6 range, which was typical of all of Chicago. Went twice so I enjoyed it!

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Photo of kensuthe
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Atmosphere - We stopped in for a bite to eat and to grab a couple drinks after the long drive up to Chicago from Baton Rouge, somewhere around 9pm on a Wednesday night. We sat in the bar area, and there were Cubs and White Sox games on the televisions along the wall. The bar area has a bricks, wood, tables, and booths look and feel to it. The crowd was younger and trendier than I remembered from the last time I had come here, but that wasn't a bad thing. The place was full without being packed, and different groups of people were coming in and out the entire time we were there.

Quality - We each had two beers, and they were all pretty good and served in appropriate glassware. Two of our beers, the Eric the Red and the Dublin Irish Stout, seemed to have slightly less carbonation than I would have expected, but the flavor wasn't off so it could have just been the after effects of driving for 15 hours.

Service - The place was busy, but our server was a little slow refilling drinks and taking new drink orders. He also failed to explain that the beer menu on the table is not what is available at all times, since Rock Bottom rotates certain beers among certain styles during the year but the menu does not change to reflect this. This wasn't too much of a problem to figure out, but I'd rather hear it from the server than be left to figure it out on my own after a beer that is different from what I ordered is brought to the table.

Selection - There are six basic choices on tap to choose from, with one or two extra offerings on top of that depending on the time of year. Some of the styles rotate seasonally, so you'll see the same style on the menu but it might be a different beer that you're ordering.

Food - The food was okay, better than the average bar room food but pretty average compared to a decent restaurant. We had the hickory burger which was severely lacking in barbeque sauce and the bourbonzola burger which was pretty good, and a couple appetizers to go along with it. We stayed away from the pizza, at the suggestion of the server.

Value - It was slightly more expensive than similar dining experiences in the area, but it was still affordable and worth the prices. The beer was cheaper than the food. I'd probably pick something else if I had the option, but it's definitely not a painful experience to eat or drink here.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Ahhh...home of the $6 pint, but I am going to assume that's normal for Chi-town.

Under construction all around this place and even the facade of the building was getting a serious upgrade. A less determined visitor may have passed up this place after seeing the intersection of Grand Ave. and State St., but after going to my colleagues' choice for dinner the night before on a recent business trip, there was no way I was going to skip this place, only a few blocks from the Embassy Suites Lakefront.

Got all the regulars and seasonals in a sampler, for 6 or 7 bucks. Nine of them total. Not bad I thought, to go along with dinner. Dinner fare was acceptable and all in our party were happy with our meals. Server was not too beer savvy but didn't mind sharing what she did know. "Construction Ale" which IIRC was just the Blonde renamed for the current events, was on special for $3 a pint. After my sampler I got a pint of the Erik the Red, which I thought was a fine Irish Red Ale, and then another pint of the Stout over at the bar. That too was pretty good.

Bar area had loud music and some pretty drunk morons for a random Tuesday night. Let's put our ties on our head like Rambo and dance to some fucked up top-40 bullshit song. Oh yeah...and these are two guys who I think were actually trying to impress girls...

Anyway...I guess I am too old to understand that kind of behavior. I would not head to this bar for a relaxing pint with my buds and to chat up the bartender, but it's nice to drink a good beer or two.

I'd go back for dinner, since the bar and dining room are totally separate. Having to go upstairs and through a maze to use the pisser is a bit of a drag.

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Photo of bditty187
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I've been to a couple Rock Bottom Brewpubs. I am never thrilled to go to one but I always like my visit. As this Rock Bottom was literally two blocks from our hotel we stopped here for dinner.

At 8pm on a Saturday night it was loud and busy. We found a seat near the bar in moments and had great service throughout even though it was busy.

The first thing that jumped off the food menu was the large pretzels for an appetizer and beef tips for dinner. I don't even recall what else was on the menu. I was hungry and those sounded good. My better half got steak and she liked it. The food was very good. As expected.

For beer, we tried the seasonal IPA (tasty... hoppy, not too bitter), Stout (robust roasted flavors), Unfiltered Pale Ale (decent) and a Barleywine which I really liked. If wasn't so tired (I had drove straight from Omaha) I would have had a couple of these.

I didn't really checkout the building; the dinner area seemed to be separate from the bar. The bar area was dark, lots of wood and their beer signs. Lots of tables and booths, plenty of seating... it looked like a fairly big place. There was even seating upstairs (but that was closed on our visit). The bathrooms were upstairs as well. The TVs had a Cubs rerun on plus some random-ass "X Games" type thing. That was really my only complaint, put on some live sports!!

Our waitress, Jen, was awesome... attentive and knowledgeable about their beer.

Rock Bottom, during our visit, was the right place at the right time. Good food and good beer... yes, it was loud and busy but it was downtown Chicago on a Saturday. What else should I have expected?

Worth a visit.

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Photo of DreamFielder
4.55/5  rDev +18.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Okay, yes, it's a chain. And the menu might be similar to what's elsewhere. But this is as good as it gets, and it is certainly the best restaurant/brewpub in downtown Chicago. There's a decent selection of food, although a lunch menu would be a nice addition, for all tastes. I enjoy the fish (salmon) and chips, as well as the meatloaf. And the desserts are even better. As for beer, there always seem to be several varieties besides the six standbyes. The Brown Bear brown is always reliable, always wonderful. Last week was the Fire Engine Red, which is rich and tasty. The Belgian was absolutely out of this world; any extra ABV was not overpowering at all. Only two piddling complaints: the bourbon barrel porter had run out hours before I arrived, and it's always a highlight of my visits to Chicago in the spring. And the musak tends to be loud, but the waiter graciously turned it down a bit with no quibble. I've always found the service to be reliable, generous with the samplers, knowledgeable, and more friendly than an Iowa yokel has a right to expect. Which is why this is my main eatery during business trips. It's great.

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Photo of AllSeeingPie
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Been coming here about once a month for the past two years. Think of it as a Chillis with excellent beer. The menu is normal restaurant chain food and nothing special and the quality has dropped slightly over the last two years. What is special is the beer. They have the normal Rock Bottom Brewery beers but it's their specials that keep me coming back. I had a Kolsch which was good. I then had an IPA which I didn't like so much but that may be me. I finished with the barrel aged raspberry stout which was superb. Finally service was top notch as always.

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Photo of jf60657
4/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Big place. The bar area is large with many tables and bar seating. Around the bar is a large area with pool tables and more seating. A waitress came to us after about 5-10 minutes (it was busy) and took our order. The beer came quickly and I pair 5.50 for a goblet of Rye.P.A that was quite good. The food menu was not very vegetarian friendly so I passed on eating. The bar got a little loud and was packed with the chicago yuppie scene, so I had a repeat on the beer and hit the road. Very nice place, staff was friendly, not really the crowd I like but that doesn,t mean anything, no-one was rude or offensive. I'd go back if I was in the area but I would rather hit piece or G.I

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Photo of Stoneman78
4.3/5  rDev +12%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Nice and open brewpub typical of the style for this chain, plenty of seating and TVs abound. The overall atmosphere and quality were acceptable but lacing in uniqueness.

Service was very good, our waiter was very attentive and expedient with drink and food orders. Bonus points for running after us in the street to get me my left-behind beer journal!

Impressive selection of beers. In addition to a standard RB lineup, this location had ~7 specialty beers including a belgian wit, barleywine, smoked porter, and dry-hopped oatmeal stout. There is something here for any beer geek, this Chicago location had the best specialty beers of any RB location I have frequented

Food also was good and indicative of the chain. We split a series of appetizers for dinner (chicken nachos, spinach dip, pepperoni pizza) all which satisfied our tastebuds and hunger.

Even if you've been to a RB before, I would recommend a trip to the Chicago location to try their unique specialty beers

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Photo of larsee01
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Definitely a fun place to go...conversationally challenged. Always crowded, but a good crowd. Pool hall/bar area an upscale version of the cookie cutter brewpubs.

This place is BIG! Polite service suffers slightly due to elbow-to-elbow crowds stretching the staff. Adjacent restaurant serves good food and a wide selection.

I've been here several times, but the memory that really lingers is an AMAZING seasonal "Belgian Dark" that I had. I wish I could remember more details, other than this thing was double-digit ABV which essentially erased many of my memories from that night. It sure was easy-drinking and sessionable that evening!

Overall a fun meeting place.

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Photo of Hollenbeck2
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I was in chicago on business ran in to grap a pint and glass for the collection.

This link in the chain occupies a downtown spot, about 5,000 restaurants within 20 feet, very busy area, the good thing is with so many spots this is not too crowded.

They had good beers on tap, like most rock bottoms the standard 5 or 6 plus some brewer specials.

I enjoyed the beer I ordered.

Good service. the people were very friendly mostly only ran in to grab a pint of beer and a collector glass.

I did not sample the food. Well worth a stop!

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Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Stopped here tonight for the purpose of trying some barrel-aged offerings, which there will be a series of 8 released starting Nov. 2007. A dry-hopped stout, winter warmer, and oatmeal stout were all pouring. These aren't available in growlers, so we decided to stop in for a beer. Had a new barrel-aged oatmeal stout ($6), and took home a growler of the 12th anniversary IPA ($8.75).

Service and atmosphere are much better at the bar than in the restaurant. If you're visiting from out of town and write the place off after one visit, you're missing out. The seasonals and one-offs are impressive and consistently good.

Original review:
The atmosphere is better than a TGI Friday's but not by much. Lots of staff dashing about, herding busloads of tourists and after-work groups. Daytime is a better atmosphere, more relaxed anyway. During the summer months, the rooftop garden is a nice option with a limited menu. The brew kettles are prominent right up front, on the left when you walk in. Bar is generally louder and slightly smoky, again daytime is not so bad.

The beers i've tried on various visits have all been fresh and of high-quality. Erik the Red, BA Coffee Porter last year, Saison, Hefe...all good. Usually a great seasonal offering.

Food is alright, not my favorite. Some tex-mex, bbq, southern salads, pizza, all things to all (American) people. Quality wise it's passable. Check it out if you're staying downtown, the beer is way above average for this chain.

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Photo of botham
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

rock bottom in chicago is right in the midst of downtown. a great location and a great spread of brew types.

there were around ten brews on tap, with a good spread of variety, from pilsners to stouts, and a good line of in-betweens. the terminal oatmeal stout is good, although it jumps away from the archetypes of the style a bit, it is a decent brew. the porter was great, highly recommended!

the staff is friendly and responsive, for brews, samples, or to talk beer and brewing. service was prompt and of good quality.

overall, this is a good place to stop and have a brew while in downtown Chicago, especially when travelling with a group of diverse beer drinkers, most styles are covered. cheers!

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

This is a great place to have dinner downtown. It's less like a typical beer bar, and more like a Bennigan's or Applebee's that happens to brew their own beer. What I mean is that for 90% of the patrons, the focus is on the food (families, non beer geeks, ect.).

The food was excellent; I had a Mediterranean style pizza and my fiance had a chicken quesadilla and a cesar salad. The beer was good, but pretty average and forgettable. I tried the porter, the IPA, the non-barrel aged Brown Bear, and the Oatmeal Pale Ale...all were decent and very much "too style," but nothing really stood out.

I picked up a growler of Eric the Red, that I tried at home the next day. It's a hoppy session brew that is their best regular offering IMO, and I had a snifter of the bourbon barrel-aged Brown Bear which is the real standout of the place. Its an outstanding brew if you like bourbon or scotch (I do).

The service was amazing, and our knowledgeable waiter was more than happy to bring me free samples of everything ...he just kept bringing me stuff to try, I didn't even have to ask!

The place is huge and very nice. There is a third floor beer garden with great views of the buildings towering above you. Also, be warned...the bathrooms are on the second floor and not real easy to find.

There are much better beer joints in Chicago, but if you are with your family or a bunch of non-BA's or people who don't drink (perish the thought) this is a great place to go, and it's just a few blocks away from the Magnificent Mile.

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Photo of sleazo
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

There are a few things I loke about this location of rock Bottom. First there is the roof deck which is great for the summer and offers nice views of downtown Chicago. The second thing is this place seems to have better quality seasonals than other locations. I had a Bourbon Barrel aged Brown bear ale which I thought was excellent. Other than that it was the typical Rock Bottom beers. The IPA I had was pretty bad, it tasted like hop pellets and nothing else. The food is typical Rock Bottom which you would find anywhere. It happens to be across the st from y friends house so it is a good choice for the area.

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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Chicago, IL
87 out of 100 based on 68 ratings.