Chicago beer and Chicago breweries are up there with Chicago hotdogs, Chicago street art, Chicago museums and Chicago music festivals as one of those things that have earned Chicago international acclaim and put it on the map.
Frequently recognized as one of the best beer cities in the country nobody would dispute that fact that Chicago knows a thing or two about beer. Our seasoned and inventive beer scene has produced so many fantastic breweries and taprooms in Chicago that we’re spoilt for choice.
There are now over 200 breweries big and small across Chicagoland meaning there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a finely-crafted beer in a range of different environments whatever the weather.
To make sure you’re checking in to the best of the best we’ve here rounded up the 10 best breweries in Chicago. Cheers!
1. Marz Community Brewing in Bridgeport
First formed in 2013 as a nano-production facility in Bridgeport, Marz’s flagship wheat ale, Jungle Boogie, Bubbly Creak sour series, and a few other beers were all born in their early days and have since become treasured libations.
After 5 years of churning out beers in limited production quarters, Marz moved into a much larger facility in McKinley Park where Marz now offers a taproom with 24 libations on draft, an array of bottles & cans, cocktails, house-made nonalcoholic beverages, and a kitchen helmed by Taco Sublime.
The 4,000-sq ft art-heavy space features an oval central bar, a vintage video arcade room, and various seating areas offering a fantastic setting to enjoy the abundance of beautifully made beverages.
Marz also now has a new Bucktown nano-brewery located at 1950 N Western Ave. Described on the Marz website as “part not-so-secret society clubhouse and part distribution center for our various elixirs, potions, and ales” it offers cultural programs, events, and activities.
More information can be found at marz.beer.
Address: 3630 S Iron St, Chicago.
2. Maplewood Brewery & Distillery in Logan Square
As the first place in Illinois to establish brewing and distilling under one roof, the unassuming Maplewood Lounge on Maplewood Avenue in Chicago’s historic Logan Square neighborhood is as good as it gets for unique group outings or comfortable dates.
Self-dubbed a “neighborhood bar, cocktail bar, and brewery taproom all-in-on” you’ve got everything covered. The rustic hideout is cozy but cool while providing top-notch beer and brilliant cocktails so that whoever you’re with can enjoy something to their taste.
There is also an outdoor patio offering an ideal spot to enjoy their delectable drinks on hotter days.
More information can be found at maplewoodbrew.com.
Address: 2717 N Maplewood Ave., Chicago.
3. Dovetail Brewery in North Center
Dovetail Brewery is a monastery to finely crafted beer as their “we brew like monks (minus the vows)” slogan suggests. Founders Bill and Hagen both hail from Chicago but actually met in Munich at the Doemens Institute while studying for Master Brewer Certifications.
Having learned the traditional brewing methods of continental Europe the two returned to Chicago and set up Dovetail Brewing merging continental European styles and techniques with American creativity “to produce the kind of beers found in small, family-run breweries in Europe.”
The laid-back North Center taproom offers a fantastic place to sip one of their finely crafted concoctions year round with snacks from Beard & Belly, Hannah’s Bretzel, and Amy’s Candy Bar plus a bring-your-own food policy for those wanting to order something or bring something.
Once the sun begins shining a patio and “Biergarten” channels the jubilance of a German summer where anybody and everybody is welcome to frolic in the sunshine, including well-behaved pets!
More information can be found at dovetailbrewery.com.
Address: 1800 W Belle Plaine Ave, Chicago.
4. Off Color Brewing in Logan Square/Lincoln Park
Set up by John Laffler and Dave Bleitner who previously worked at Goose Island Brewery and Two Brothers Brewing respectively, Off Color is another brewer that leans towards European styles.
The beers are eccentric in both branding and flavor but ensure an exciting experience for any beer lover. Off Color’s taproom, “The Mousetrap” in particular is an absolute must-visit if you’re looking to enjoy a first-class beer in a modest yet magnificent setting.
16 Off Color brews on draft, as well as cans, bottles, guest ciders, and a full bar can all be enjoyed from the cozy taproom or from the dreamy patio where once again bringing your own food is accepted and all are welcome, including pets.
More information can be found at www.offcolorbrewing.com.
Address: 1460 N Kingsbury St, Chicago
5. Half Acre Beer Company in North Center/Bowmanville
If you’re reading this it’s unlikely you’ve not heard of Half Acre. Founded by Gabriel Magliaro in 2007, Half Acre has made its way around the world appearing at festivals far and wide while providing the region with home-grown sensational beer.
There is a chance, however, that you may not have been to their 60,000-square-foot space Balmoral facility which opened in 2017 and has been a sporadic venue to check out since with Covid and other issues.
If there’s a place to enjoy the beers that put Half Acre on the map, like Daisy Cutter Pale Ale or Pony pilsner, as well as some lesser-known but equally as divine concoctions it is here.
The huge facility and expansive beer garden mean you can always rely on getting a space as well as tasting great beer.
More information can be found at halfacrebeer.com.
Address: 2050 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago.
6. Metropolitan Brewing
Another haven for German-style beers, Metropolitan is perhaps one of the lesser-known big breweries in Chicago but a revered maker among those in the know.
The Rockwell on the River Tap Room is undoubtedly one of the best places to enjoy a proper beer in Chicago. Floor-to-ceiling windows mean guests can drink from the comfort of the tap room while looking out at the Chicago River year-round but when the sun is shining the magic of the riverfront brewery can be experienced.
Few beer experiences can rival sitting out on the family-friendly and dog-friendly, riverside patio sipping one of the brewery’s incredible creations as the sun warms your face and the river gently rolls by.
With Arigato Market on hand to fulfill your taco-related needs and a bring-your-own food / order-your-own food policy for those not craving tacos, there is simply nothing missing from this beer utopia.
More information can be found at metrobrewing.com.
Address: 3057 N Rockwell St, Chicago.
7. Ørkenoy in Humboldt Park
Holding the title of Humboldt Park’s first craft brewery, Ørkenoy is another spot that dabbles further afield by operating as “a brewery, cocktail bar, kitchen and synergetic haunt for local artists” thus catering to groups who love their drinks in various forms.
According to the Ørkenoy website “the hybrid venue, anchored within the Kimball Arts Center, is infused with Nordic influences and an eclectic, welcoming ambiance.”
Not far off the 606, it makes for a perfect pit stop or as many who have gone looking for a quick break found out, a well-spent afternoon indulging in all of the Nordic magic that Ørkenoy has to offer. As might expect, the aesthetic is clean, Scandi minimalism so if that floats your boat this is the place for you!
More information can be found at orkenoy.com.
Address: 1757 N Kimball Ave Floor 1, Chicago
8. Corridor Brewery & Provisions
Located in the center of the Southport Corridor in Chicago’s West Lakeview neighborhood, Corridor Brewery & Provisions is a craft brewery and restaurant with an ever-changing draft list and a kitchen run by the talented Chef Jeff Parkin.
The brewpub is what you can expect from a hip farmhouse space in good hands. Exposed brick gives the space rustic charm while wooden palettes and bikes hang from the walls offering a casual, laid-back feel. Big silver fermentation tanks tucked neatly into the aesthetic effectively make you feel like you’re a part of the whole authentic experience.
It’s the huge 18-foot ceilings and fully-retractable front windows that make this place a winner, however. The 90-seat space has an airy, relaxing freedom while a 25-seat sidewalk patio offers space for the warmer days.
More information can be found at orkenoy.com.
Address: 3446 N Southport Ave, Chicago
9. Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery
Dubbed “the first botanical brewery in Chicago” Forbidden Root was founded by Robert Finkel who, after leaving the world of high-stakes entrepreneurship, decided to pursue his idea of creating true-brewed botanic beers.
“We brew craft beer inspired by nature. We love barley, water, hops, and yeast, and use those as a base to explore a rich world of wild ingredients” reads the website. Herbs, spices, leaves, flowers, stems and even roots go into Forbidden Root beer giving them an adventurous flavor you’ll not find elsewhere.
The Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery opened in 2016 in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood and has become a popular hideout for many offering a range of fruity beers as well as an elevated Brewpub dining experience.
Many people head to the original Brewpub in West Town and the newer location in Ravenswood for the burgers and delicious rustic food these days as much as they do for the craft beer, but that isn’t to say the latter isn’t still of an exceptional standard.
More information can be found at www.forbiddenroot.com.
Address: 1746 W Chicago Ave and 4710 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
10. Revolution Brewing in Logan Square
Revolution Brewing is a brewery and brewpub that should be on every beer lover’s list.
Another brewery founded by a former Goose Island employee, Revolution Brewing became Illinois’ largest independently-owned brewery after Goose Island Brewing was sold to AB-InBev.
Founded by Josh Deth, who also founded Wicker Park’s laid-back vegan retreat Handlebar, everything here is as reliable as it gets. The massive 90,000-square-foot Kedzie facility houses a German beer hall-style taproom offering a range of exceptional beers.
The space is so aesthetically appealing, in fact, that it appeared in the 2013 comedy-drama movie Drinking Buddies with Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson.
More information can be found at revbrew.com.
Address: 2323 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago.
Honorary Mention: Goose Island Beer Company in Lincoln Park/Wrigleyville
It is easy to disregard Goose Island Beer Company after it was sold to AB-InBev in 2011 and became part of a multinational conglomerate that purists so like to turn their noses up at.
Let’s not forget, however, that Goose Island pretty much kickstarted Chicago’s craft beer obsession and it wouldn’t be right to ignore the beers created at Goose Island despite the fact it is no longer considered a “craft” beer.
The longest continuously operating brewery in Chicago, Goose Island Brewhouse at 1800 N. Clybourn was founded in 1988 and offers a trip back in time as well as some world-class beers. If you’re looking for something more casual, you can’t go wrong with the Goose Island Fulton Market taproom which offers a cozy alternative to the historic brewhouse.
More information can be found at www.gooseisland.com.
Address: 1800 West Fulton Street, Chicago
[Featured image from Shutterstock]