When tourists come to Chicago it’s almost essential to make plans for dinner one night at a spot known for its deep-dish pizza, however those native to the city know beer has become just as essential as pizza, particularly with so many home-grown breweries popping up all over Chicago and its outcroppings.
Each of these breweries has its own storied past, and while some are Chicago mainstays and others recent additions, they all add a whole lot of flavor to one of the most eclectic beer cities in the United States.
Goose Island Beer Company
Named after the only island on the Chicago River, Goose Island Beer Company opened its first brewpub in 1988. Owner John Hall started his facility after trekking across Europe and realizing that America deserved an equally delicious and diverse beer selection. In the 1980s, craft brewing was nowhere near as popular as it is now, but Hall and Goose Island changed that by allowing visitors into their brewing facility. Considering they have a beer named “312,” there really is no brew more Chicago than Goose Island.
Two Brothers Brewing
Jim and Jason Ebel, founders of Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, IL, are in fact brothers, and they got their start in the brewing business at home when their grandfather donated a couple of milk tanks to use as fermenting tanks. Today the operation has expanded significantly, but it’s still a 100% family-owned business that just so happens to make some really delicious adult beverages.
Those that know of Hopothesis Brewing Co. in the West Loop know they do good work, but for Ike Orcutt and Sean Mahoney, the co-founders of BuckleDown Brewing in Lyons, IL, working for somebody else just didn’t cut it. So, they branched off and started their own brewery in 2013 that already has become one of the most exciting startup brewpubs in the Chicagoland area.
Half Acre Beer Company
Unlike BuckleDown, the result of two beer-industry buddies starting their own brewery, Half Acre is a labor of love courtesy of Gabriel Magliaro and Matt Gallagher, neither of whom had any experience in the craft beer industry before developing their earliest beers almost a decade ago. After a ton of trial and error, however, some really good beers came to fruition. Originally from Wisconsin, the owners of Half Acre corralled advice from tons of industry experts, then moved their operation to Chicago, where they quickly have become one of the city’s most beloved brews.
The largest craft brewery in the state of Illinois, Revolution is known for its unique “raised fist” tappers, which seem to be showing up in more and more bars all over the Midwest. It all started in the summer of 1995, when managing partner Josh Deth got a job cleaning kegs at Golden Prairie Brewing. He’d later work at Goose Island as a cellerman and brewer, where he’d learn even more about the work that goes into making a great beer. By 2003 he was making his own beer, and in 2010 Revolution Brewing opened, starting a true brew revolution here in Chicago.
Windy City beers are every bit as fantastic as the pizza, and these five represent the best of what the city has to offer in terms of craft beers.