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The last time I drank beer in Chicago it was Red Dog and Budweiser...

Discussion in 'Great Lakes' started by elNopalero, Mar 6, 2012.

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  1. elNopalero

    elNopalero Oct 14, 2009 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Howdy folks!

    I posted this originally in the “Midwest” forum without paying attention to the states covered (and not covered) by that designation. I should have known better—Great Lakes is where it’s at!

    I'm a Michigan native and still visit on an annual basis. I'm going to be in Chicago next week for a few days, staying downtown, about a block away from the art institute. Believe it or not this is my first "adult" stay as a craft beer drinker. (With some shame and a bit of irony I'll admit that the last time I spent any time in Chicago I was drinking Red Dog. And Budweiser in those 'hand grenade' bottles in a tiny dive bar around Pilsen. But that was a while ago.) More than the typical 'where should I go' list (although I'm definitely welcome to suggestions!) I wanna know what is the beer and brewery or brewpub I should make my first Chicago brew?

    A few considerations:
    I'll be exclusively on public transportation.
    I'd like to try something local--and something I can't find in Michigan (or California or Texas) (which is also a polite way of saying that Goose Island isn't a priority--although it's on the list).
    I'm meeting up with a fellow beer geek--so no worries about finding options for those who don't share our enthusiasm.
    And my taste preferences lean towards the hoppy, sour, roasty sides of things. I'm a big fan of cask conditioning, cool-weather seasonals and experimental style-defying brews too. Really, I get along with most beers.

    I’m following these two threads:
    with a ton of great information on them. There’s a lot of overlap in our interests—I like imports & sours, etc, but I want to have something exclusively Chicago-brewed. After all, this will be my very first Chicago craft beer in Chicago! [cue double entendres]… I think the main difference between our posts is that I’m a stout/porter fan, and I’m also interested in anything on cask.
    Looking forward to hearing your suggestions--and maybe sharing a pint with ya'll while I'm out there.

  2. elNopalero

    elNopalero Oct 14, 2009 Texas
    Beer Trader

    PS: Bonus question! I'm going to be out there over St. Patrick's day weekend--what are the odds of avoiding crowds and craziness (and green beer) at a craft beer spot?
  3. Nachos4two

    Nachos4two Nov 26, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I am always one to say small brewery but large in quality is Half Acre, is a must in my opinion!!
    4257 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60618
  4. sacullen

    sacullen Oct 14, 2008 Illinois

    Bars will be very, very crowded that day. :eek:

    Many bars, brewpubs, and restaurants have something on cask. Just off the top of my head, GI Clybourn, Revolution, Fountainhead, and Owen & Engine should. I'm sure there's plenty more, but those are the places I frequent most often. Haymarket is relatively new and is the closest brewpub to where you're staying (except for Rock Bottom?).

    One quick note: GI Clybourn is hosting its annual Stoutfest March 17. You need a ticket for the event, but the brewpub remains open to the public. With 200 people there just for the event (12-4) and St. Patrick's Day partying, I expect that place to be a clusterfuck most of the day.

    For "Chicago" brews, I think Half Acre has surpassed Goose as THE Chicago brewery (only my opinion). I simply get more excited about HA's new offerings than Goose's. That said, don't discount Goose. The brewpubs have great beers that will never see the inside of a bottle, and the new, draft only Old Town Yard is excellent and worth seeking out. One of my favorites that I don't think gets as much love as it deserves is 5 Rabbit. Their new Huitzi is awesome. Pipeworks just released their first beer this week. I would look to procure one. I know I'm biased because they're 2 blocks from me and I have been able to volunteer there, but I have high expectations for what they are going to give us, especially because they don't plan on having a "flagship" beer. That's awesome.
  5. chanokokoro

    chanokokoro Jan 31, 2012 Illinois

    As far as brewpubs, Haymarket and Revolution are must visits. Great beers at both places, the food is very good at Haymarket, but phenomenal at Revolution. I'd recommend Goose Island Clybourn as well, but with Stoutfest, it's going to be a madhouse. Half-Acre is a great brewery (in my opinion there really isn't ONE Chicago brewery; GI used to be THE brewery, but they share that distinction with all those mentioned in this post), but they only have a bottle shop and tasting room, no brewpub. Perhaps, with any luck, there might be some bombers of Double Daisy Cutter left. I doubt there will be any Pipeworks Unicorn vs. Ninja left next week as I stopped at West Lakeview Liquors again late this afternoon to pick up a couple for some friends in the suburbs and they were down to their last 4 cases or so. They were one of two stores that received the bulk of the release.
  6. elNopalero

    elNopalero Oct 14, 2009 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Thanks gang! Guess I should also ask--best bottle shop by where I'm staying? I understand Binny's is the go-to out there. Looking forward to my trip.
  7. danimalarkey

    danimalarkey Mar 3, 2008 Illinois

    I'd be sure to stop by Warehouse Liquors (634 S. Wabash) in addition to Binny's.

    Also, it might be worthwhile to head to the Half Acre brewery -- in addition to DDC (possibly), they should have Baume, a rye stout that is really tasty. And, shoot, from there I'd go to Fountainhead - the current tap list (per BeerMenus, at any rate) is pretty damn solid.
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