Beer Bistro

very good

17 Reviews
Beer BistroBeer Bistro

Type: Bar, Eatery

1061 W Madison St
Chicago, Illinois, 60607-2050
United States

(312) 433-0013 | map

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Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-22-2005

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Reviews: 17 | Ratings: 32
Photo of laketang
4.19/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

hade some great beer on tap, founders dry hopped nitro and some double daisy cutter. the food was good, no complaints. the service was extremely good, we were well taken care of.

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Photo of BRami127
4.75/5  rDev +25%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

This is THEE place where I learned about craft beer. I actually walked into this place on accident on a Sunday in May 2006. At the time, they had my then favorite beer on draft (Paulaner Hefe Weizen). Then I saw they had 25 cent wings on Sundays. And then I saw this Spatan Maibock being served in this weird glass I've never seen before. I ordered one of those and that got me hooked on this place. Then they told me about their "beer passport" program where if you tried all 100+ beers you get a $25 gift card AND a case of beer of your choice. Well, 6 cards later and 8 years going strong, this is STILL my gold standard bar. I go out of my way to come here, hangout, and watch a game or two. If it wasn't for the great staff, I would still be stuck on Budweiser, Miller, and Sam Adams. I wouldn't have known of beers like KBS, Trappistes Rochefort 10, Orval, or any of the great local brews like (surprisingly) Goose Island. This is a great place to learn about craft beer and I'll be a fan of this place for a very long time.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.36/5  rDev +14.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I've been going here for the past 12 years or so even when it wasn't the BBistro.

The atmosphere is comfortable. You could dress up or down. One of the best Hawks bars I've been to. Plenty of tv's with any and every sport you want to watch. Of course a nice crowd and friendly staff make it so.

Service is spot on. I mainly go here for lunch as I work in the area and once you get to know everyone they treat you like its a pleasure to serve you any may I say, always with a smile.

Always a great selection of beer and 'how'd they get that'. Shows their good relationship with distributors.

When I say their food is great, I only get their burgers, fries and pizza because it's that freakin delicious.

Why I review this now is due to the fact that I realized they kept their same staff for at least a few years now. Chris is very knowledgable of what he's serving. I always! Go there before a Hawks game as it is always crowded with red, white, black and green jerseys. Some of the best Hawks fans you'll rub elbows with and always a shuttle going down Madison to get you to the UC in minutes, so drink up. The owner is there often and always making sure you are having a good time. I would definitely stop here if I was from out of town.

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Photo of Fluffheady
3.54/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.25

This bar feels more like a craft beer factory than a craft beer bar. This may be a byproduct of being so close to the United Center. They have nice beer, but it’s not all that exciting (at least not often enough to notice). I hate to say it, too, because I know the guys who made it certainly aren't attempting to churn out a factory. I bet the other location attracts a much better crowd.

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Photo of mjmbeer
4.14/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

This a good place to stop in for a decent selection of beers Chicago is an expanding beer market and lots of small hometown breweries are popping up This place ham a nice selections of local beers on tap and a really nice bottle list too. Chris behind the bar was knowledgable about beer and the local beer scene. There is lots of place to go in Chicago this is one of those places you should stop. It's not the top rank but its a good local bar with a good selection and good people

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.8/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3

Stopped in here for some pre dinner beers. Long galley style bar. Plenty of seating. The tap list was large and filled with basically pedestrian american craft. Nothing super sexy but enough to keep a beer geek interested for a few hours. We plowed through a few pints. The bartender was awesome. We found out she was from Wisconsin. which led to some hilarious conversation. If not for that we probably wouldn't have enjoyed ourselves as much as we did.

Overall a decent stop for a craft beer but not really a destination.

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Photo of KDawg
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I went in here on a west side bar crawl.

Beer Bistro has an odd mix going on. They are an official blackhawks bar but also try to pose themselves as a craft beer place as well. I have no problem being at a sports bar, but if that's what you're gonna be, just be it. The crowd was a mix of young and middle aged people. It was rowdy in a sense, but not in a frat boy way, people were just very happy. I couldn't get a real feel though for what kind of crowd they're aiming for.

The beer quality was good and there was a nice selection. A good selection of midwest brews and that was the main focus along with some revolution brews. I know they keg some of their stuff to other places, but it's nice seeing them available at places other than at Rev.

It was never a problem getting a beer. The bartender was always available even with a good sized crowd and a hawks game going.

A solid place to go, but there are lots of options in the west loop and west side in general. If I lived in the area, I could see myself there frequently. Since I don't, it's good for the odd visit

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Photo of Shibbykaiyai
3/5  rDev -21.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

As a person who worked in the west loop, I had great expectations for this place. And although it wasn't a bad place, it wasn't quite what I have expected.

The building is quite nice and there are shuttles (I think through a neighbor business) to events at the United Center, so it is a nice place to start out an event evening.

The beer list was pretty decent, but it did seem to focus on more trendy than good beers (including can night). The food was decent, but nothing to great.

If you are looking for a nice trendy spot in the west loop, this is your place. If you are looking for a good selection of beers, it's not too bad.

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Photo of FrankWBurnsIII
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This was one of the first bar/restaurants I went to when I moved here. Our realtor recommended it. We loved it the first time and have been going back consistently. We have also taken out of town guests there.

It is on the smaller side upstairs, but they can open the downstairs when needed. Sometimes it is difficult to find a seat. I think we've waited up to a half hour to get one, but generallly we'll try to get there before the peak. I will say that the staff doesn't necessarily seem too concerned when you're clearly standing there not drinking because you want a table to drink and have dinner + dessert. That is the only thing about the place that has always been a pet peeve. It might be worth trying to keep some tables for people who are there for a full meal in addition to plenty of beer, not two girls who will sit there and sip on a Mich Ultra or its equivalent for two hours.

The back left corner has a VIP room/booth that I had the pleasure of sitting in one time with some friends. It was nice to have some room to spread out and enjoy the beer and dessert.

The menu for beer and food is great. I enjoy the Sonoma chicken salad wrap, the BBQ chicken pizza, and sometimes the fish n' chips. You can get tater tots which I enjoy doing sometimes. They have this giant warm cookie a la mode dessert that you have to get. My wife enjoys the salads and hummus plate.

I think they have a beer special going all of the time. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not, but the price on it is usually pretty good for Chicago. In the past couple of years I think they have stepped up the on tap selection a lot which is great, as they have always had a great array of bottles.

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Photo of ferrari29
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

The first time I went to this place was April '10 and had my first Gumballhead experience. It was on-tap and my uncle, a beer connoisseur himself, suggested it. He said I would be hooked and have been since the first sip. Besides that, the bar itself is stuffed with locals, young professionals and Chicago sports fans. The bar gets very stuffy, very quickly, especially on Blackhawks/Bulls game night. Most people will hit this bar up after work to burn a few hours before the game and throw back a few. It's a lot easier to head there on the weekend when the area is less crowded and visited mostly by West Loop locals. Bartenders have always provided slightly above average service. They don't have much time to provide quality beer suggestions but are well-equipped to keep the beers coming as the place gets packed. So it helps to know exactly what you want ahead of time.

Having been there a hand full of times I definitely make it my go-to spot when I'm in that part of town. That doesn't say much though since the selection in the area is limited. Still a good place to go to meet up with friends and try something new from a wide selection of beers . I can't comment on the food because I haven't had any of it. I'll update my review again if I have any their food.

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Photo of skberke
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

We went around 8 pm on a Friday night, and had to wait 5-10 minutes for a spot at the bar to open up. The expansive wooden bar is beautiful, and the handful of sidewalk tables looked inviting. The 10-15 beer options on tap were high-quality, if not particularly unique, and I gather their tap selection changes frequently. The bottle list was more impressive, with a large selection of American craft brews and Belgian imports. Most Belgian styles were represented, though I did not see many sour ales. Nothing particularly obscure or hard-to-get, but the selection was large and high-quality. The American brews reflected some of the most interesting breweries operating right now, and the Belgians were generally very good choices, and included things that do not frequently pop up on menus. Also, they seem to have 12 oz bottles of many beers that I usually only see in a 750 ml size, which was nice.

Beer Bistro seems to be doing a good job of walking the line between beer-bar and commercially successful bar. Many people in the young professional crowd were ordering cocktails or bud lights. The martini list did indeed look excellent, and the food menu seemed to be better-than-average pub fare. The place was crowded and pretty loud, but most places are on a Friday night. Overall, we liked it and we'd go back.

If I could change just one thing, I would reorganize the beer menu by style, rather than alphabetically. A list of beer names is not particularly helpful.

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Photo of jhoban19
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

This is a great little neighborhood joint in Chicago's West Loop / Greektown neighborhood. Over 130 beers, with 13 on tap at any given time. All the beers they carry are listed on the website. Usually have a "beer of the month" that sells for $2/pint for the entire month. Daily specials range from $2 burgers on Tuesday nights, 25 cent wings on Sundays and half-priced appetizers on Thursdays.

The atmosphere changes almost every time I'm in there. during the week you can catch the after work crowd- both professional types and construction workers from the neighborhood building sites. Most people tend to keep to themselves, though some folks sitting at the bar will strike up conversations with strangers. 3 flat screens in the bar area make this a decent afternoon football destination as well. Also gets pretty good crowds before events at the United Center such as Bulls and Hawks games and concerts. Overall, I get the sense this is a neighborhood hang out.

Food is above average pub grub- the pepperoni and goat cheese pizza is absolutely awesome, while the burgers and quesadillas are also pretty darn tasty. I can't speak for the rest of the food because that's pretty much all I've had. I tried that goat cheese pizza the first time I went in there and pretty much stuck with it.

Bartenders are very friendly and are always willing to offer a small tasting of a new draft.

Small outdoor patio in front used during the summer months and a bit larger side patio used for special events. The back room has tables and a semi-private area for small parties (basically a 4-sided booth with high walls).

Overall I enjoy the Beer Bistro, though it's not exactly a destination given that I live up on the north side of the city. That said, it's my first choice when I'm in the neighborhood for a game at the United Center or one of the summer festivals.

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Photo of KarlHungus
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Stopped by The Beer Bistro for a beer and lunch. The beer selection was pretty good, but certainly not great. There were nineteen beers on the tap list, but I only counted seventeen taps. However many they have they were mostly quality craft beers. I ended up getting a Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout which was served in the proper glass, but a little too cold. The food left a lot to be desired. It was a lot like chain restaurant food. It isn't good, but it isn't bad. It is just bland. The service was freindly, and prompt. Overall, if I go here again it will only be for the beer, and in that case I'd rather go numerous other places.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

I have wanted to try this place when it opened and I'm just now getting there. When you walk in it has the long Chicago bar with exposed brick and lots of beer memorabilia tacked on the walls. It is a very long space with booths and tables in the back. The wood floor was sticky the most of the way back to the bathroom.
They have a list of all the beers on the menu with a chalkboard with the 12 beers on tap. I looked through the 80 bottles, 9 big bottles and the tap selection and didn't find anything really exciting. It had a lot of beers but they were all pretty run of the mill beers with a few from Europe, Canada and the rest from the US.

The menu was pretty big for food as well with recommended beers for most of the food. It felt like the beers assigned were kind of arbitrary. They had PBR as a recommendation of a BLT and another appetizer.

It was nice to see they had a good set of glassware and when I ordered the Trumer Pils it came in its own labeled glass. Other beer themed bars usually have a nice local selection of average beers which is why I hit them when I travel but this one doesn't.

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Photo of emerge077
3.61/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

The crowd at this place leaves something to be desired, mostly young & older professionals in formal business attire. It's a bar, dammit, not a corporate social function. It seemed that half the bar was swilling Bud Light, despite the many other offerings available.

Interior is well appointed with antique columns behind the mirrored bar, faux tin ceiling panels, and vintage beeriana decor. A large french door/window opens facing the street, where a small fence cordons off tables and 3/4 of the sidewalk.

Service was good, prices were quoted (a must) and refills offered. The thing is, they offer 90 or so beers (at $4-$10 apiece), which are printed on a tiny menu with no prices. The list is alphabetical, so it can be tough find what you're looking for, especially in the dim lighting. Coors and PBR are mixed in alongside Duvel and Maredsous. Around 18 standard Belgian offerings, but they are among the priciest. They only had 10 or so taps...

Didn't try the food, and didn't see many diners here at 7-8pm. Menu had beer pairings listed for entrees & appetizers, which earned a few points.

One unisex bathroom with a tricky lock, be careful if it's crowded, you don't wanna get bum rushed.

This would be a decent spot if you have another destination in the West Loop area, but not really a destination itself. Bottom Lounge and Jak's Tap are better beer options in the area.

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Photo of mynie
3.8/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Short walk from Union Park and the Pitchfork Music Festival. We'd been standing in the triple-digit heat for eight hours, our brains, ears, and legs hurt, and we were in need of bathrooms and alcohol. We stopped in a bar that was filled with icky, fashionable old people who were discussing the stock market and gave us dirty looks for our shabby dress. It was across the street from a filthy vacant lot. They shouldn't have charged so damn much.

A little ways down the street we found this little bit of a bar. Smoke free (hooray for us), nicely decorated, friendly as all hell. We got to sit in a padded room near the back. It was sooo comfy.

The waitress was very nice. She remembered us the next night and came up to talk, even though she wasn't even working. They had had her memorize a sentence or two for every beer that was on tap, which was nice. The comprehensive beer list was seriously out of date, though.

As for the beer: decent selection, good taps. Very little in the way of rare beer and the beer was expensive as all hell. The food was reasonbley priced, though, and all the draft beers were served in proper glassware (most of which bore tha logo of the beer you were drinking).

The food was hit or miss. My sandwich was a little bland but okay, but my ladyfriend's nachos were excellent. Pretty much standard pub fare--sandwiches, burgers, nachos, fried food, pizza.

A nice place, if you're in the area.

07-08 EDIT
Taking the vibe down a few notches. I stopped in after dark on a Saturday and it was the worst hell you can imagine. It--it was the kind of scene that makes you think that the end of the world wouldn't be that bad. The drunkest fratboys you've ever seen. Only older, in their early 30s. Self-assured dickheads screaming FUUUUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK and sexually harassing every woman that walks by them. Guys--rich guys with jobs and families--were getting into fist fights. The service was still very nice but the crowd was sickening.

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Photo of Redrover
4/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The Beer Bistro is an nice addition to rapidly evolving neighborhood that lies west of Greek Town. Lots of restaurants, shops & bars going into this area.

There is a bar to your left as you enter. I would guess that there are at least a dozen tables in the back with one semi-private snug. good crowd early on a Friday.

Nicely decorated with warm colors, a vintage back bar, old brewery posters and some really nice wrought iron fans and fixtures. They spent some bucks, but it was well worth it.

The beer selection is good. 12 taps with PBR & Blue Moon the only semi macros. They had some nice choices from Goose (the reserve line & 312), Dogfish, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Mardsous Dubbel, etc. Nice bottle list well over 60 choices. Added bonus, they always have a special beer of the month on tap. So far they have had Point Pale Ale (very nice) & the Berghoff Solstice (just ok) at $3 a pint, it's a pretty good deal.

The food was decent. A little more adventurous than standard pub grub (goat cheese & pepperoni pizza, panis, fish tacos for example). I liked their take on sliders (mini burgers).

Friendly service from their wait staff who at least knew something about beer.

This place would be better if they had a beer garden and will also improve once Chicago goes smoke free as their ventilation was just ok.

I would head back here in a minute. This would be a great stop before events at the United Center.

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Beer Bistro in Chicago, IL
3.8 out of 5 based on 32 ratings.
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