Beer sales in Chicago
I am coming to Chicago and want to know where I can buy beer and what the times are that sales can occur. Can I buy beer at a local convenience store or would I have to go to a liqor store? What are the hours in Chicago that it is legal to sell beer?
Foxx from Canada
Beer is widely available in Chicago, in many (but not all) grocery stores, as well as gourmet food stores (e.g., Trader Joes) and convenience stores, as well as liquor stores. Hours are not particularly restrictive (e.g., you can buy beer on Sundays, etc). If you tell us where in Chicago that you will be staying, we may be able to suggest stores with particularly good beer selections and/or that are close to where you will be.
Thank you very much for your response. That is really good information. I am looking forward to trying the many different beers that I would not normally be able to try here in Canada. I will be staying near N Michigan Ave and E Chicago Ave. Then I will also be staying near N LaSalle St and W IllinoisS St. What is the N LaSalle area like?
Thank you for your assistance.
Binny's has a large liquor store at 213 West Grand Avenue, which is the one block north of Illinois and one and a fraction blocks west of LaSalle. On their store list this is called Downtown: http://www.binnys.com/inc/locations/l...
The Michigan and Chicago area will be better for bars than package stores.
Nothing compares to Sams Wines (Binny's is great but it doesn't compare to Sams) at Clybourn and Willow just northwest of North Avenue and Sheffield. It has to be one of the best wine, beer, spirits specialty stores on the continent! A 10 minute cab ride from your hotel. The beer and wine selection is unmatched. Extremely knowledgeable staff.
Binny's and Sam's are both great, but I find them both to be more quantity than quality (though certainly they carry many tremendous beers, so if they make more sense then go for it, you won't be disappointed).
My favorite place is Armanetti's. Great selection, very knowledgeable staff, and the selection is all really high quality. Ask for Jim when you get there, he will take excellent care of you. Heck you can taste a bourbon or some scotch while you're there too. http://www.armanettis.com/
Also it's across the street from an awesome butcher, Paulina Market. I never go to Armanetti's without stopping there too.
It's about a 20 minute El ride from where you're staying, or you can always find parking up there.
Some of my favorite local brews include
Goose Island - Matilda and Pere Jacques (they have other great beers but they are not currently available
)Three Floyds - everything, particularly Dreadnaught IPA, Gumballhead, and Alpha Kong
Two Brothers - everything is good but nothing sticks out to me
If you're looking for recommendations of American craft brews that aren't from the Chicago region specifically I can help you too. I have no idea what kind of beers make it over to Canada.
Sam's is a shell of its former self and is rumored to be on the sales block (again).
A couple of years back, one of the brothers (the stupid one) found some private equity people to back him, and he bought out his father and older brother. Well, the private equity group came in slashed costs (i.e. inventory and the most experienced floor staff) and have really messed up what was once a Chicago jewel.
One of the big things they are into now is buying up cheap wine in bulk overseas from large cooperatives and clearing it through a local import permit that some guy in the suburbs holds. The wine isn't labeled with a "Sam's" label but make no mistake--this is not high end, domaine bottled French wine. This is a far cry from the Sam's I remember where great Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone wines were stacked in wooden boxes on the floor.
Within two years, Sam's will probably be sold off to an out of state company such as Beverages and More. Personally, I think this is a good thing because it is going to open up a lot of market share to the numerous neighborhood fine wine shops that are opening up. At the end of the day, Chicago will have a stronger fine wine retailing scene.
Disclaimer: I am not a Sam's employee. I am not one of the employees who were laid off after the buyout. I have never worked for Sam's. I have never worked in wine retailing at all, so I'm not a competitor of Sam's
In March, I travelled to Chicago and went to what I believe to be the three best beer stores near downtown - Binny's, Sam's (Clybourn) and Sam's South Loop. Of the three, the selection at Sam's South Loop was the best (and Sam's Clybourn was better than Binny's). For example, it was the only place of the three that carried Bourbon County Stout.
Plus, Sam's South Loop is less than a block from the Red Line, which makes it extremely convenient.