Duke's Alehouse & Kitchen

very good

22 Reviews
Duke's Alehouse & KitchenDuke's Alehouse & Kitchen

Type: Bar, Eatery

110 N Main St
Crystal Lake, Illinois, 60014-4433
United States

(815) 356-9980 | map

Hours of Operation:
Sunday - Thursday: 11:30am – 1:00am
Friday - Saturday: 11:30am – 2:00am

Kitchen Hours:
Sunday - Thursday: 11:30am – 9:00pm

Added by circuitmonkey on 07-13-2005

View: Place Reviews | Events
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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 44
Photo of Dgtlcwby
4.98/5  rDev +31.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Always on point and beer is well chosen and vast, most of the staff is passionate about beer which really helps. Great beer community and superb chef who cares about what is in his food and tells you where it came from.

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Photo of wapcap
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

An awesome craft beer & eatery located near Chicago!
The place was hoping and there were not many open seats. Its located near the downtown area with many parking spots and walking activities.
The beer selection was great. Dogfish Head, Three Floyds, Stone and many Chicago options.
Food was very good and they source quite a bit of local foods.
The place is would be suitable for families, but it did seem to get packed more as the night went along. If you are within shouting distance of this place, check it out for sure!

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Photo of Stezz420
3.96/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Alright here's a place that was an amazing and I mean top 100 beer bars in America stuff. Well went back tonight and all i gotta say is, im not impressed at all anymore. Every single bartender in this place is drunk!!! I don't care if its a benefit or not, im sorry service still comes first and drinking comes last. Being a bartender myself there's no excuse to shitty service to other people, because you've been busy drinking/talking with other people from the benefit. Food was amazing as always and came quick, but no thanks to the bartenders (a food runner brought it to me) actually if I recall the bar back took my order, shit man he should be running the place.. time for new staff members.

Edit: NOV 2015

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Photo of Paul_H
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

Fries topped with pulled pork and Stone Arrogant Ale cheese sauce, steamed mussels in garlic, and a few beers from the huge beer menu....all very good.

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Photo of stupid_outfit
4.24/5  rDev +12.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Great beer list for something so far out in the 'burbs. Good selection of rotating drafts. They do a decent job of keeping everything on the list in stock (which is totally frustrating if what you want isn't there!) They are often understaffed on busy nights, but the servers/bartenders who are there provide good service-it's just slow due to customer load.

Food is pretty good and different from the usual suburban fare. They focus on local sources which I appreciate.

If you're feeling social join their beer club. Folks show up with a lot of interesting, rare beers.

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Photo of kendrid
4.54/5  rDev +20.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

A great place to meet friends and choose from a variety of craft brews. They often have 'rare' beers such as Zombie Dust on tap. The beef (and most of the other food) is local and tastes great. They are a very green restaurant and do a lot to support the community.

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Photo of carmike813
4.46/5  rDev +18%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Duke's is a greay place to go to in the burbs.

The atmosphere is what you would expect, it is what looks like an old house/apartment complex that has been turned into a restaraunt. The entrance is directly into the bar, which can be tight squeeze when it gets busy, which it typically does after the 5:50 train reaches the CL stop (Metra station is directly across the street). Reservations are a no go on Friday through Sunday.

Food selection is broad, you can get a spectacular veggie burger or a spectacular "vegan slayer" burger, your choice. All of the selections are top quality and advertises as a green restaraunt which is great as well.

The beer menu is second to none really. There is a vast FFF selection as well as other local micro breweries. They tend to keep thier beer menu rotatinfg and have frequent tap takeover events. They also have a text message alert that you can sign up for and get instant event information.

Duke's is a great place that i frequent often.

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Photo of jeffhenders0n
4.51/5  rDev +19.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.75

Great place, who knew? Visiting with the missus last night for the first time and was impressed not only with the draughts available (had my first O'so Hop Whoopin' IPA) and the overall look/feel of the place, but the food was excellent! It is now on my very short list of places to go in the far NW Suburbs.

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Photo of emerge077
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Went to Duke's for lunch on a Sunday and had a great experience. For the NW burbs (exurbs?) this is as good as it gets within a 20 mile radius (Firkin is 21 mi. east, better than Emmett's imho). The food is of high quality, the beer selection ever rotating/updated online, and the restaurant is certified green and zero waste. Sorry, but no one else in the area seems to be doing all that... some early reviews here do seem narrowly focused and a bit disingenuous, though are likely well outdated.

The building is slightly wedge shaped, located on a corner across from the Metra station. Plenty of street parking on the east side. Inside there's a narrow bar area with some alcoves of table seating, and a host stand on the right, leading to a more spacious dining room. High ceilings with pressed tin tiles and exposed brick, local artists' work, halloween decor, east wall lined with windows let some daylight in. Service was timely and friendly.

Draft selection: Zombie Dust, Zes Zes Zes, Parabola, Pumking, Tighthead Irie IPA, Prima Pils, Weihenstephaner, Dragon's Milk, Sixth Glass, Nosferatu, plus a dozen more. Prices range from $3 (Coors) to $10 (Parabola).

Bottle list: 150+ bottles, extremely well organized, broken up by style with food pairings, notes on low inventory (2 left, etc), drafts coming soon are listed as "on deck" (FFF Snow Weasel, etc), prices are listed separately on a single page. Beermenus appears to be updated on a weekly basis, and currently accurate based on my visit (one error, Juliet was $22 not $14). The list is thoroughly detailed and expansive, containing all you need to know... the servers can't all be beer geeks, frankly to assume so would be asinine.

Food: The brunch burger (fried egg, bacon, jalapenos on the side) and butterkase mac & cheese were both excellent, as were the house-made veggie burger and side salad. Sustainable ingredients, clearly of high quality, far from "typical bar food". Good range of sandwiches, flatbreads, and entrees, with rotating seasonal options. Daily food & drink specials. Both the food and beer menus read as if someone took care and pride in them, which is lacking at so many places these days.

Sunday crowd was mixed, from young families to motorcyclist couples and even seniors. Duke's seems to fill a niche for quality casual dining in the area, in addition to serving as a haven for the local beer nerds.

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Photo of TTAmod
4/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This bar probably has the best selection of craft beer available on tap in the McHenry County area. There's a rotating selection of around 20 craft beers. Sometimes they get some rare ones in, which is nice (they currently have Boogoop, for example.)

The food has been stepped up big time as of late. The prices are reasonable, and the food is interesting and have never been disappointed.

When the place gets hectic, the service can be hit-or-miss. When going, I would suggest going on an off-hour to get the best service.

They have good bands, some dart boards, and an outdoor deck that's open during the summer. The crowd has always been cool, in my opinion. The d-bags go to the various other bro bars in the area.

I'd suggest going here if you like good beer and good food.

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Photo of scamplin1966
3.66/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

my family and i were in town visiting friends from nearby, going to catch the train to go downtown Chicago ( 1 hr wait ). they know i like my beers and our always picking me up brews that are not available in Michigan,they had mentioned this place, beats waiting outside? we sat at a table top for a little bit before we were recognized or I guess we were but bartender told a staff member he was to busy to take our order. our friends were getting irritated by this (usually its me that gets ticked off, nothing worse then trying to spend money when thirsty). but then a server came and took our drink order, she was very apologetic about our wait and very knowledgeable about the beers. i was impressed they had DH Scotty Karate, she didn't know he was real dude,was impressed with their selections lots of 3 Floyd's on tap. unfortunately they were out of two i wanted to try. but still had a lot of decent beers on tap and bottle selection. i would like to go back and try the food,spend some time there, without feeling the need of a train schedule.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

(Visited 02/2011): Duke's Alehouse is located in Crystal Lake north of I-90 on North Main. Parking is available nearby.

The interior is laid out in an open manner with table seating throughout the space and lots of windows around the perimeter. Their claim to fame is a restored tin ceiling which lends a nice element to the atmosphere. The bar is on the left side. There are beer posters around and they have a small stage as well.

Duke's has over twenty beers on tap with a lot of craft breweries represented such as Three Floyds, Victory, Grand Teton Great Lakes and The Bruery. A couple of imports from the likes of Spaten as well. As for bottles there are over 100 with an eye toward microbrews like Bell's, Three Floyds, Great Lakes, New Belgium and even Hoppin' Frog. Some imports include Chimay, Reissdorf, and St. Bernardus. They also offer a "beer school".

Service on a weekday evening was good. The server was familiar with the featured beers and was friendly and attentive throughout dinner.

Duke's food menu includes flatbread pizzas, handcut fries, burgers, sandwiches and the like. My colleague and I both enjoyed our meals.

Overall this place is a nice find north of Chicago.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.4/5  rDev -10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Finally stopped in here to see what it's all about. Sat in the bar area, which is a small-ish hall-like space connected to a dining room. The usual patterned ceiling tiles are there, along with a handful of flatscreens playing the Crosstown Classic. Bellied up and ordered...but the beer that was shown on BeerMenus wasn't yet in. Odd, it had been listed there for a couple weeks... See, this is probably my biggest issue with this place: They keep their website and menu updated fairly regularly, but they tend to stretch the truth a bit about what they have. Many of the taps they purport to have have either been kicked for a while or have yet to be tapped, and several bottles on the list don't really exist. This isn't a major problem, necessarily, but it gets to be pretty irksome when you're down to your fourth or fifth choice due to the above issue. The bartender, though, was pretty helpful (if slightly terse, though I attributed this to the full bar present at the time), and seemed pretty knowledgeable about the beers. It was nice to see that they had a reference binder with info about the beers, as well, even if it's only for the 'tenders' use. The beers they did have were pretty solid, if nothing too outstanding or hard to come by. It was sad, though, that the overwhelming majority of the taps were IPAs or pale ales, but they were still pretty good. I didn't try the food, but sorta plan on it if I come back. The pricing was generally standard for the area, bordering on a bit high. Some of the bottles, though, do run significantly more expensive than elsewhere, but not all of them (and I have seen worse...). Overall, a nice place, especially for the immediate area (which doesn't hold all that much in the way of beer destinations), but there are some things that need to be worked out if I'm gonna call this place a regular haunt.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Visited here on a a few weekends ago with the wife. A nice little corner bar/restaurant place. To be honest I was not wild about the food we ordered. . it was good, but nothing to write home about.
The beer list however was very solid with at least a few offerings both local and imported in most of the main style categories with a few surprise twists and selections. What stood out to me was that the prices for some of the bottles and on tap beers were actually quite inexpensive considering how much I would have to pay elsewhere for it.
Overall, it was a nice quiet lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Not overly busy and we sat by the window. Certainly worth another visit, though I was disappointed that their tap list hadnt been updated in a while so I went expecting a few other beers on tap, but were kicked weeks ago.

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Photo of FullObs
3.29/5  rDev -13%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4

Visited about 2 weeks ago on a Sat. night.

I think this was a small place with one long bar sometime ago and they've expanded to include a dining area and updstairs as well.
Bar was crowded so no seating. Dining room was about 1 hr wait. Food is done at 10 and then the tables open up (if diners leave) and they had a band play in that area.

Unfortunately once the tables open up no food avaiulable at all - damn those late night munchies. Also there is no cocktail service so you must get up and go to the bar to order. (Upstairs was closed to private party).

The selection is not comparable to many of the downtown bars but I'm sure this blows away anything you'll find in the area. Probably 40-50 brews but the menu wasn't well organzzed. I was also surprised to see many of the customers were ordering miller/bud and vodka tonic etc...

My biggest beef was that I had checked the website twice before visiting - mind you they updated the site between my visits - so I was confident their list was up-to-date. When I arrived I found the 2010 Darkness which was listed on the site for at least 2 weeks had not been tapped yet. Then the DFH bitches brew was marked "coming soon" but this had been retail for a month or more. I ordered 2 others Iwhich the bartender could not locate either. So here I am trying to find some good brews on the menu and the bartender walks away leaving me to wait another 5 minutes ( they were crowded I'll admit). Repeat this process and I finally had a few brews. Made it topuch however to get my non-BA friends to try my hobby. Overall the bar left me disappointed.

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Photo of cjacobsen
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Used to be Duke O'Briens and now Duke's Alehouse. This used to be the place that everyone in Crystal Lake went for drinks on Thursday and Friday night. They decided to up the ante and appeal and be more of an open restaurant.

The dining room had a cozy appeal to it, seeing it was touched up to accompany dining. Still has the small stage and staircase to the second floor. You're hit with the bar immediately through the door and then you're directed into the open dining room. Not too impressive.

The menu looks great and there seems to be a lot of good stuff on it. The food wasn't what up to what the menu made my taste buds think. I had a Mac Burger (baked mac n cheese on a house burger) and it wasn't bad, but no home run.

Pricing is $10 and up for burgers and most of the plates on the menu. Kinda steep if you don't hit up a special. They have a lot of organic stuff, which didn't strike a chord with me but if that's what you seek out, this is a great place for that.

The beer list has a nice selection, but nothing I've never seen before. A bit more expensive though than most of the places that boast a nice craft menu.

[I had to rate $$$ because some bottles were a bit more expensive than they ever should be and the burgers are too expensive for what you get, or don't get for that matter.]

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Photo of Mandark
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

OK, let's be real: this is, yes, a bar around 50 miles from Chicago in a suburb called Crystal Lake. CL is not a beer mecca. There is sprawl, there is water--sounds like Chicago to me--and there is a somewhat quaint downtown area in which Duke's sits across from the train station and the neat Pop's Corn Crib. And dammit, Duke's is probably the best place to get your craft beer fix for at least 20 miles.

I've visited Dukes six times between early 2009 and early 2010, at different times of the day and week, and like any other place one is bound to have a different experience based on the clientele, the level of activity, and the employees working their shifts. I will say that each time the service has been at least friendly, and the food has been quite good. More than standard pub fare, there is a decent selection of creative dishes utilizing locally grown ingredients. The atmosphere is nothing special, but their outdoor beer garden is pleasant and their dining room is charming enough. It is busy on the weekends with BMC bargoers.

But it's the beer we've come for, right? Right. Surly Furious is always on tap; it was also the only place around that had Darkness on tap in '09 (and for that I'll be eternally grateful). Three Floyds is usually well represented (Brian Boru and Gumballhead as of 4/12/10); Green Flash was around for awhile; Weihenstephaner hefeweizen is a constant; right now I'm seeing Old Rasputin, the Bruery's Mischief, Founder's Breakfast Stout, DFH Red & White, Young's Double Chocolate...and those are just on tap. You can check the website for the even more extensive selection of bottles, but you get the point--there's some excellent beer here. OK, there's also Bud Light and specials on Pabst and Miller, but I think that's a small price to pay and denotes a real sense of the economic reality of the environment on the owner's part.

If the Map Room, or Hop Leaf, or any of the other mighty beer bars located in Chicago proper were in Crystal Lake or Woodstock or Johnsburg, then Duke's selection would pale in comparison---but they're not. They are fifty miles away. Therefore, it is unfair to judge Duke's in comparison to them, simply because they exist within a rather large geographical relevance.

Having moved to this area from Chicago I'd rather encourage places like Duke's and the opportunities and knowledge they bring to the far suburbs. I just checked again and I see that they will be tapping Ommegang's BPA and some Troubadours'---the point is, they continue to expand their selection and bring new options to a place that has nothing else like it. I'd bring friends and family to Duke's without hesitation and I'll be visiting it again soon.

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Photo of Anitrak
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Duke O'Briens went through a recent renovation. I went there once before and was rather unimpressed. After revisiting for lunch with a friend post renovation I decided to give it another try.

They have around a 15 taps with five or so taken up by cheap beers. They do have Dogfish Head and some 3 Floyd's on tap which was nice. I had a conversation with the beer buyer and he says they're working on getting 100 bottles by the end of the year. I was impressed that they had lagunitas We're only in it For the Money and Sierra Nevada's Southern Hemisphere. They will also be having a winter beer club which has 10-15 winter brews showing that they will be rotating some of the selection.

I was happy with the service. The bartenders knew what they were talking about when it came to the beer they had and were always there when I was ready for another. The food is actually very good. They are pushing a "natural" menu. I was very happy with both the quality of the burger I got and the price.

The atmosphere really leaves something to be desired. There were a lot of locals just looking to get hammered on miller lite and shots. The sub par classic rock bands don't help much either. There were fewer people there on a friday night for the beer selection that I hoped for.

Prices were pretty reasonable for good beer which is nice. For beer lovers, it may not be the best place you ever visit, but it certainly is miles better than anything around the area.

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Photo of Atmosbeer
3/5  rDev -20.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4

Without thorough research, this might be the first beer-bar for Crystal Lake, IL. "Duke's Ale House..." is a new and much different bar than the old and now lost " Duke O'Brien's". The owner closed and rehabed the place last July/Aug. There is certainly nothing like the new bar on the strip -the strip that is Downtown C.L. But let's be clear! Crystal Lake, IL is 43 miles from Chicago (and that's by train- maybe 60mi by car) This bar and customers are NOT "Chicago" any more than Chesterton, IN is Chicago (which is closer by any means of transport) Sure they may be Cubs fans but keep the comparisons minimal, PLEASE!)
Delirium Tremuns is center stage with its own plastic housing of advertisement and glass-sprtizer- used in a useless way. Other taps are both east and west coast, Dogfish Head or North Coast... and plenty in between like Great Lakes or Three Floyds. It's worth keeping an eye on Duke's because I think that the House is offering something that the folks are quite unaware of. This bar sets the bar that not enough C-Lakers were asking to raise or lower themselves for.
Combine this with half aware 'tenders and this might be a disservice to even Bud's American Pale propaganda. The 'tenders even say that everything is popular when you ask what is moving on tap, and on a slow night 21 different taps are being served -not likely, from where I sat. Ask the 'tender to run the line first, else you're gonna get three feet of skunk anything because I don't think they have or been given a clue what craft brew is or how to maintain it.

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Photo of JarheadRI
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Atmosphere: Cool laid back place that has a cool looking bar area and a high ceiling. The dining area is a bit small but also has a high celing with a stairway going up to a private area that you can rent out. There also is an outside patio that is cool for drinking on at night but not so sure about eating there during the day, it is a bit small and the road is right there.

Quality: Not sure if this is quality of the food people or beer so won't comment on this. Detailed in other sections.

Service: This is hit or miss. I usually go in on the weekends during the day and sit at the bar so it is attentive at least. Depending who the bartender is and if they are in a good mood they will really treat you right. My Sunday bartender takes good care of me but I am something of a regular at this point.

Selection: Well they have about a dozen beers on tap and I would say about 8 of them are microbrews. They seem to be really cycling through they pretty good too. I hadn't been in about a month and I would say about 5 or 6 of them were totally new. The bottle selection is excellent. They have about 30 and I would say at least 2/3 of them are of the micro type. Again cycling through very well. Some of them can get pretty pricey but this IS a suburb of Chicago so....

Food: Food for the most part has been pretty good. It is a little pricey for pub fare but you get your money's worth. The sandwiches are good I haven't really had any of the entreees.

Value: Again... slightly on the pricey side but I would say overall resaonble for the area. If you are coming from other parts of the midwest you can expect to pay a little more.

Reviewed on 6/16/2008

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Photo of mynie
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

2015 EDIT:
Tap list keeps getting better, atmosphere remains shitful. Music is very loud and very bad. Wait staff has gotten nerdier and nicer, however.


They've overhauled this place considerably, turned it into a full fledged alehouse. My complaints about the atmosphere still apply, but the beer selection has improved greatly and the waitstaff is a hell of a lot better.

Wait staff was bizarrely short-tempered. I don't want to punch people very often but I really, really wanted to punch the bartender. Just--I dunno there's something about Chicago-area twentysomethings that fills me with rage. The way they carry themselves, the way they talk. I can't be the only one who has noticed this... am I? Seriously I get along with strangers great in every other decent-sized city I've ever been to but for some reason Chicago kids just make my skin crawl. Anyways, whether or not I'm just seeing things, the apex of this kind of douchebaggery (at least as I sense it) is found in the outer suburbs.

Been here twice. Once during the day when I ate expensive, mediocre food and the waitress was nice and the crowd really wasn't that bad. Again at night when the crowd was one of the worst I've ever seen and I drank expensive, mediocre beer. Tap selection was borderline beerfly. Bottles were more respectable but even more expensive.

The best bar in Crystal Lake, yes, but still not very good.

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Photo of circuitmonkey
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3

This place is probably the only decent bar in Crystal Lake, with the best selection of tap micro's (Bell's, Anchor, Rogue, Leini's, Great Lakes, Summit, Goose Island...) The usual that I get are Dead Guy Ale, and Goose Island 312 wheat.

Weekends usually have live music and a DJ with a decent crowd. Occasionally the music isn’t great, but fortunately there is a patio out back to escape from it. If you don’t show up early you should expect to pay a cover.

The bar itself I would consider average... nothing special beyond what you would find in most bars... A few guinness signs and some neon lights and that’s about all the decoration you will see.

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Duke's Alehouse & Kitchen in Crystal Lake, IL
3.78 out of 5 based on 44 ratings.
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