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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Not Rated.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & BreweryRock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
BA SCORE
87
very good

90 Ratings
Ratings: 90
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 10.91%
Active Beers: 462
Beer Ratings: 2,751
Beer Avg: 3.72
Taps: 12
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @rockbottom

Notes:
(Linked Listing) None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 90 | Reviews: 67 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JeremyAnaya
4.75/5  rDev +23.4%

JeremyAnaya, Jul 07, 2014
Photo of WoodBrew
4.63/5  rDev +20.3%

Chitown....BABY! Corner of State and Grand....great local for a brewery. Yes these are a chain of breweries, but they do a fairly nice job of brewing beer....mix that with some great food....espcially the NACHOS (according to my wife) and you have major success! Solid line up of beers....I had the specials...Fire Chief and Drink Me IPA....both very good. We of course had nachos...followed by a delicious burger. It is certainly worth a stop even if just for a beer! The bar area is much better thean the stiff "grill" area. I like my breweries to be relaxed.

WoodBrew, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of DreamFielder
4.55/5  rDev +18.2%

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.

DreamFielder, Apr 25, 2008
Photo of joelambic
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

joelambic, Jun 18, 2014
Photo of mkopera24
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%

I have had the opportunity to have been part of a party the first time I was at the Downtown Chicago location. The many craft beers on hand are award winning and compliment the wonderful food on the menu perfectly. The staff at this location bend over backwards to make sure you are having a great time. And I've returned many times since my first experience because of that. But each beer I had (Erik the Red Ale, Brown Bear Brown, and the Terminal Stout) were perfect examples of hitting the bullseye on each style brewed.
Fun to go watch football games on Sundays, televisions, pool tables, etc come together for a great place to have fun and drink some really outstanding craft beer.

mkopera24, Dec 02, 2004
Photo of botham
4.43/5  rDev +15.1%

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!

botham, Sep 06, 2007
Photo of granger10
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%

While in Chicago one of my friends told me he went to this place and wanted to go again. I figured it would be like a Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and nothing special, prolly bland beer with mediocre food and shoddy service. But it was lunchtime and my hangover was starting to kick in. I needed lunch and maybe a beer or two so a group of us went. Well, shit, I was way off the mark here! The service was quite knowledgable about their beers and he was very friendly, already better than the GRBC and their shitty service. Their sampler deal was a good deal so I went with that. The beer was exceptional for a national chain standards. This brewer knows his stuff, its obvious. Each beer had a solid flavor and some were exceptional. Plus, the best part, they had a bourbon barrel aged imp. stout and a bourbon barrel aged barleywine on tap!!! And they were both awesome, simply incredible. The food was solid and large in size. I had an chesse dip appetizer which was really thick and slightly spicy. Then the pulled pork sandwich which was really big and really juicy, not dry at all. The fries were weak and too greasy and thin. I liked this place so much I had to go back a few more times in my relatively short stay, it was also b/c of where i was staying and the fact i could walk there and back easily. Don't miss this place, next time I would like to meet the brewer and give him my congrats on such a good job.

granger10, Nov 24, 2004
Photo of Clembo1957
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%

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.

Clembo1957, Jun 08, 2009
Photo of jackndan
4.35/5  rDev +13%

Rock Bottom/Chicago: I used to hit this place quite frequently, but stopped because the beer was just so-so. However, Rock Bottom hired a new head brewer (Pete Crowley), and rededicated themselves to making fine beers. I was impressed with their offerings at the real ale festival, and much more impressed with their offerings last night (reviews to come).

The place is quite large, but unfortunately the bar itself is kind of small, with not much seating. There is a wonderful beer garden on the roof, and it is definitely worth a stop.

I sat down with a pint of Mai Bock, and asked a few questions of the waiter in anticipation of buying a sampler. Not only did the waiter know his stuff, he substituted an oatmeal stout for the light, and brought me a total of NINE samples, including the barleywine that they were just tapping. All were above average and some were exceptional.

Rock Bottom was hosting the American Homebrewers Association that night, and I had a chance to meet fellow BA Drew, and Pete Crowley and his fairly new assistant brewer (whose name I’ve forgotten) were there and I had quite an amiable chat with them, while sampling more barleywine. I understand Rock Bottom frequently hosts such gatherings, which is terrific.

The food I had was quite tasty, and some of the other diners around me had nice looking chops and steaks. They have a full menu as far as I could tell.

I had a wonderful time, and this place is now on my short list of places to recommend to friends and visitors.

jackndan, Jun 19, 2003
Photo of beerinator
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%

I liked this location. There are quite a few neat things that I noticed they were doing. First off, they had this 'rake-like' device that they used to transport and pass out the samplers. You basically will have to visit and check it out, I couldn't do it justice. Also this is the first bar that I've seen that has coathangers mounted underneath the bar and bar tables. This is a good idea!

The beers were good. At the time we visited they had 7 beers on tap. From a golden ale to a porter and an American IPA. Most of the beers were brewed to style and none of them tasted stale or old. But they weren't anything too exciting either.

The food and the service were very good. Our server wasn't too learned in the ways of beer, but he sure did know how to get us our beer and our food in lickety split time.

Don't let the fact that this is a chain brewpub discourage you.

beerinator, Jul 06, 2004
Photo of Stoneman78
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%

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

Stoneman78, Mar 09, 2008
Photo of kmpitz2
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%

Been here a few times this month. Upon entering, there is a bar and small seating area to the right and restaurant style seating to the left. I've only been in the bar and pool area. There is quite a bit of seating at the bar, with a nice view of some of the equipment behind the bar. Not sure the exact number, but it seemed they had about a dozen house beers on with at least 3-5 special brews each time I was there. Everything I had was pretty darn good, but I only sampled special releases. It was a little difficult to get a beer the first time I was there, but the second, I sat at the bar and the server payed very good attention to me, even taking time to strike up a conversation with me. I've yet to have food here, so I have no comment there. This is easily going to be one of my favorite stops when I move back to the city in a few months. It seems to be nice and relaxed, with just a great vibe to the location. Not to mention that its literally a few steps from the red line, making it easy as anything to get there.

kmpitz2, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%

I found this place bustling at 11:30 on a thursday night. I was herded right to the bar, so I didn't get to check the place out much but right behind the bar some very proud, huge FVs stand spotless for one to admire. I hear theres dining on the roof, that must be cool. The croud was loud and rowdy, but it was fun rowdy, either singing along with the cranked music (80's rock mostly) or cheering on the Cubs on TV.

I tried a beer sampler and I'll say these are extremley well-made but fairly uninteresting beers. Its almost like they're so perfect it's boring. They actually had one of the best light beers I've ever tasted (which isn't saying that much, but hey) and some of the seasonals were review-worthy. Go for the bourbon-barrel stout. While there were like12 beers on tap, I found some to be nearly indestigiushable from one another but they were all good. Also, its worth mentioning that this place only sells their own beer, which is ballsy since I hear most brewpubs can't get their wares to outsell Miller Lite.

The service I had here was some of the best I've ever had at a bar.

JudgeRoughneck, Jun 07, 2006
Photo of ChiTownBeerClown
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%

Calling myself a regular at this place would be an understatement, I've been going to Rock Bottom at least twice a week for the past 5 years for two simple reasons: the staff and the beer.

Peter Crowley (the brewmaster) does a phenomenal job, there is constantly new beers on tap every month and even year in and year out there are few repeats and two batches are never exactly the same. More important than the variety, the beer is good. Really good! When there are anywhere from 8-12 different beers to choose from if you can't find something you like you either have really discerning taste or no taste at all.

Additionally they've recently started carrying "special guest" beers from local microbreweries. I've seen (and had) beers from Two Brothers, Metropolitan, and Half Acre on tap - a nice bonus considering I don't know any other bar in that area carrying beers from any of those breweries (maybe you can find two brother's at clark ale but I don't recall ever seeing it).

Beyond the beer the staff is knowledgeable, friendly, welcoming and entertaining. I admit I'm completely biased because several of the bartenders have become friends of mine but they weren't when I first started going in and they are no small part of what has made me a regular. I can get a beer anywhere, the attitude of the staff is the icing on the cake.

I want to counter the previous reviewer that claimed the staff is not knowledgeable with a bit of explanation from personal experience: some of the staff is not that knowledgeable when it comes to beer and this is largely dependent on when you go and where you sit. The place has a large staff so turnover is what you would expect in a restaurant of that size - this leads to new waitstaff working days, waitstaff who haven't worked there long enough to learn the beer. Beyond that some of the staff don't really care to learn, what they call "beer university" is a mandated corporate training requirement for all the waitstaff but it's not held that regularly and like with anything else you can't teach someone what they don't care to learn. If you want informed knowledgeable staff who drink the beer and know the beer head to the bar. You have to work your way to a bartending position there so there are no newbies and all the bartenders drink the beer, they're not home brewers but they will be the most knowledgeable staff in the place at any given time (save the brewmaster or head brewer).

Pro tip: ask for a sample if you are unsure, or ask for 2 samples if you cant decide between two. The samples are free and the staff (or bartenders at least) are always happy to oblige. The sample's are very small glasses in which they give you about 2oz of the beer you are inquiring about.

The food is good not great, they recently revised their menu to go along with the recent restoration of the interior (they're trying to have a bit classier of an image) so if you haven't enjoyed the food in the past I encourage you to try it again.

The decor is nice after the restoration, classier feel, more steak-house-ey if that makes any sense. The atmosphere is predominantly governed by the crowd which varies. In the evenings I would say the crowd is a mix of regulars and tourists many of the regulars being restaurant industry people. Women-wise I wouldn't call the crowd impressive though I wouldn't call it a complete sausage fest either, but if you want to stare at good looking women who wont sleep with you there are plenty of other bars in the city to accomplish that in.

Bottom line is its a friendly, unassuming, reasonably priced (for the area) place with great beer on tap that you can't get anywhere else. Personally I don't ask for much more than that which is what has kept me firmly planted as a bar fixture in that place for years.

ChiTownBeerClown, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of 773-F-I-B
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

773-F-I-B, Apr 11, 2014
Photo of 4thoseabout2bock
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%

a) the beer
yes its a chain, but the brewers at each location have the opportunity to brew outside the standard selections at their own discretion. Pete Crowley does an excellent job and there's usually an interesting special brew or two on tap. Right now there is an especially stellar selection including a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout (red line), a bourbon barrel aged doppelbock (doppelbarrel -- absolutely lovely, $6 snifter, worth every penny) and a bourbon aged stout.

In addition there is also a selection of special brews available including a strong scotch ale, hefe, imperial pilsner and an oatmeal stout. The scotch ale was served in a pint for $4.50 and was nice, sweet and malty (although it didn't seem as strong as in previous years if this is the scotch usually availble over the holidays).

The seasonal beer selections are on par with Goose Clybourn although selection may be a tad more limited (atleast that generally seems to be the case, although not this week!). This is the best beer destination in downtown. They also do regulars right with their mug club and affordable growlers.

b) the food
we usually get the pretzels and ahi tuna appetizers. Both are decent size servings and make a dinner with a few strong beers. The nachos are also quite ample. The entrees are typically oversized as well. The food here is quite good, especially for a brewpub. They often win the Chicago Beer Society Brewpub Shootout beer and food pairing, and for good reason. The entrees are a bit pricey but they are also good sized, so its still a good value. Also if you consider its downtown location, the prices are reasonable for the area.

c) the atmosphere
its a large space but thurs and fri after work the place gets PACKED with an after work crowd. Times other than that are better for relaxed beer enjoyment.

d) directions
Take the red line to grand.
Take the south/west side exit.
As you emerge, Rock Bottom will appear before you.
The bar is on your right as you enter through the spinning door.
Don't drive here. Parking is difficult.
Use public transportation if at all possble.

4thoseabout2bock, Nov 16, 2006
Photo of stouts4me
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%

A: this is a big brewery restaurant area, plus the AWESOME rooftop - super atmosphere !

Q: I have always had positive experiences here, the staff all look to please you, make sure your visit was as expected.

S: Very attentive bartenders, happy to give a sample, so you get the beer you'll enjoy.Hostess very friendly on my visit.

Sel: Very good menu, would like to see a hot pretzel, though.Always some extras of beer selections.

F: I had the pulled pork, very lean, sauce was tasty, sweet, just as it should be. Other selections I've had in the past were just as good.

V: prices are fair, there is a mug club, so you get a larger pour if you belong, no prices seem out of ordinary, good value.

stouts4me, May 22, 2012
Photo of Longstaff
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%

This place is incredibly huge! The bar itself is not that large, maybe 20 seats, but there was a dining area near the bar that would be as big as most brewpubs. Then they have another large dining area to the left as you walk in, an upstairs hall, and a rooftop beer garden. Most of the regular beers were in the somewhat boring range expected at a big chain brewpub. But I had an Oktoberfest lager that was very good and the Dunkleweizen they had while I was there was outstanding. I would go back just for this beer alone. Food was typical of the Rock Bottom menus elsewhere. Sevice was very attentive without being too in your face. Bartender let me sample most of the beer and was very knowledgeable about the beer and ingredients used. Sidewalk on Grand smells like young punks who can't handle their beer throw up out there on a regular basis.

Longstaff, Oct 20, 2003
Photo of murphysbleachers
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%

I've been to the Rock Bottom in Milwaukee and the one in Chicago and this is definately the better of the two. The decor is standard for the chain. The bartender was friendly and very knowledgable about the beer. The food was above average bar fare. This one really shines in the beer dept. Tried the Blitzen (Belgian X-mas style ale), Oatmeal Stout, Doppelbock, and Double IPA and all were great. My only disappointment was they had nothing on cask for my visit, but you can't win 'em all. I'll be trying to stop here for lunch when I'm in the neighborhood more often.

murphysbleachers, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
4.14/5  rDev +7.5%

Visited on a recent trip to Chicago on the recommendation of Kmpitz2. And he is right, this is a better Rock Bottom than most (thought I have enjoyed all Rock Bottom's that I have visited). Located convenient to the Red Line, the Rock Bottom has a distinct urban flare that I think is key for the survival of any Micro-brewery. Has a blend of true rustic architecture and pseudo rustic architecture, but vast and spacious. Even with the crowd of the Cubs game, I was able to find a bar table relatively easy. Less interested in the game, I enjoyed watching the activity on the sidewalk and street. The service was also surprisingly attentive despite the crowd. They were knowlegable and interested in my interpretation of each brew. Though I did not eat (I hit Giordono's earlier) the food looked very appealing. After the sampler, I hit a special release IPA, ESB, an Double Stout. The bar seems to cater to everyone from tourists to locals, from beer enthuziests to just dinners, from sports fans to pool players. This can be good or bad; for me, I found this a posative. None of the beers were bad. Most were crowd-pleasers, but there were some beers there that are meant for the serious beer guys. Can't wait to visit again.

BEERchitect, Aug 07, 2006
Photo of ndekke39
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%

Looked up this place while visiting Chicago for a conference. It's both a restaurant and a bar - the bar is a nice sports bar with TVs, pictures and posters of their beer. Nice brick walls and wood accents. There's seating up on the patio, although I didn't sit there. The place was busy, but I still found a table near the bar, even though it was the Friday lunch hour. Behind the bar you can see their fermentation tanks and other inner workings.

The service was very welcoming, friendly, and fast. The server knew the beers quite well, especially some good beer and food pairings. She also told me about their tapping events, when they tap a new barrel of their bourbon-barrel brews.

I tried the Hickory Burger and the Triple Chocolate Stout Cheesecake. Both were excellent, and went well with my pints of the Bourbon Brown Bear Brown Ale and the Oatmeal Stout.

Overall, a very nice brewery/restaurant visit. I would definitely recommend it if you're in the downtown Chicago area looking for some good eats and beer.

ndekke39, Aug 09, 2006
Photo of bditty187
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%

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.

bditty187, Aug 07, 2008
Photo of Hollenbeck2
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%

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!

Hollenbeck2, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of paco1029384756
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%

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.

paco1029384756, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of number1bum
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%

Stopped here on a business trip. I've only previously been to the Rock Bottom in Minneapolis, which was pretty good but not great, and overall I would say that this location was much better. Atmosphere was fine - nice bar, plenty of space, and not terribly loud or smoky on a busy but not crazy Sunday evening. I sat at the bar and the service was prompt and courteous...nothing to complain about there (although at least one of the servers clearly didn't know much about beer, while the other two were more competent). I had the BBQ chicken chipotle pizza which was very good (and the dough is made with the brown ale, mmmm), but a lot of the stuff on the menu seemed sort of boring so I didn't go above a 4 there.

Now on to the beer. I had the Erik the Red, the Brown Ale and the Blitzen. The Erik the Red was very good, the Brown Ale was solid if not unspectacular, and the Blitzen was a really nice belgian pale (although I thought it leaned a bit toward a belgian dubbel, but it was good however you want to classify it). I enjoyed all three and wish I had time to try some of the others...particularly the Imperial Stout on cask. Only knock I have is that the selection is somewhat limited, but they had 2 cask selections so I left it a 4.

I thought the beer was a tad pricey, to be honest, but the food was very reasonable so overall the value was good. I would definitely come back.

edit: stopped back again the next night and had the Irish Dry Stout and the Fire Chief Irish Red. Fire Chief was very tasty, and the Stout was nice, as well. The two Reds are definitely the best brews I tasted here.

number1bum, Apr 23, 2007
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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Chicago, IL
87 out of 100 based on 90 ratings.