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Jul 16, 2007 07:08 PM

Need Beer Suggestions - Chicago

We're staying at the Ritz Carlton. Need suggestions for bars that have a good selection of local beers. Care more about big selection of local beers, than food or other beer selection. But if there are any places with good beer selection open for lunch, would like to hear about those as well. Will be taking cabs or public transit.

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  1. Goose Island Brewery is the big name in town. They have very good bar food, too.

    BUT, I would suggest Hopleaf in Andersonville (which is worth it for the food alone) or the Map Room in Bucktown. Either one of those will have Goose Island and about a million other beers. I can't think of anything else that's local. Three Floyds is a brewery close by and very good (it's in Indiana). You have to remember that Milwaukee kind of overwhelms Chicago in the beer department. Even the standard, cheap Chicago brew (Old Style) comes from Milwaukee.

    Also, there are some very arcane laws in Illinois which make it difficult for independent breweries to distribute outside of the big channels. There was an article in the Chicago Reader a few months ago about that:

    However, Hopleaf and Map Room both know their beers and should have most regional beers available.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rubinow

      I second rubinow's recs.

      There are some fantastic German restaurants with great beer selections as well;
      Resi's Bier Stube at 2100 W. Irving Park(authentic beer garden), Mirabels on Addison just east of the Kennedy, and The Huttenbar in Lincoln Square for beer alone (fun local crowd here). Try the BBK.

      BTW: Also, there's a brewmaster school in Skokie several miles north of Chicago that is highly regarded as one of the best. Brewmasters in training travel to this school from all over the world. It was featured some time ago on WTTW. Sorry, I don't know the name but it's in Skokie. Could be worth a visit.

      1. re: amoncada

        I believe you mean the Siebel Institute, which moved a few years ago. It is now co-located with the Goose Island brewery on Clybourn Ave.

    2. This is going to sound silly, but one of my favorite places to get beer is Hackney's ( And I'm not the only one - once, when I was discussing which beers to order with my friends, the man at the table next to me leaned over, told me he came pretty much for the beer, and gave a few suggestions. I'm still going to the big alcohol stores to try and find some of the beers they serve there.
      Enjoy Chicago!

      1. The suggestions so far have been terrific. I'd just add Clark St. Ale House, at Clark and Chicago. Since Bell's pulled out of Chicago, their selection isn't what it used to be, but a good beer place, nice back garden, great atmosphere, and good juke box. No food, though, apart from pretty good pretzel sticks. Also, it's dog-friendly, so a lot of people bring their dogs, who stroll around cadging pretzels.

        1. I would also add Piece in Bucktown. They have really tasty New Haven style pizza and they are a brewery as well.

          I definitely second Hopleaf as well. Make sure that you get the fries!

          1 Reply
          1. re: illinigirl09

            I was going to mention Piece (I forgot about it the first time around).

          2. Ritz...nice.
            I know you're looking for bars, but if you find a packaged goods spot, look for Three Floyds (as mentioned already...specifically Golden Monkey), Two Brothers, Payton's Pilsner are all chicago area local beers. after that, anything by Great Lakes (Cleveland) or Bells (Michigan) are fantastic, tho Bells you won't come across related to the distribution laws in IL, as noted earlier.
            Drink Well

            1 Reply
            1. re: whiteguyshops

              Well, we're at the Ritz for a wedding (lucky us), and will do Alinea another night. To balance out the high end stuff, we really wanted some places to give us a feel of the Chicago beer scene -- thanks for all the input.