The Best Breweries In ChicagoA guide to the 24 best breweries in a city that has a ton of breweries.
Don’t tell Boston, Milwaukee, or whichever city the big silver train in those beer commercials comes from, but Chicago is filled with breweries, ranging from huge warehouse taprooms to coffee-shop-sized brew pubs. There’s approximately one for every Chicagoan, and not all are created equal—so we put together a list of the 24 best.
For the sake of defining what exactly constitutes a Chicago brewery, we’re talking about places that (1) brew and serve their own beer on-site, (2) may or may not have food, and (3) are within the city limits, meaning some of our favorite suburban, or Indianian breweries (sorry Three Floyd’s) didn’t make the cut.
The taproom of Half Acre Beer Company in Lincoln Square isn’t trying to be a full-blown restaurant with 689 things on the menu. The short food menu here consists of tasty things like currywurst and a fried chicken sandwich with gochujang mayo that go really well with the house beers. Plus, they have a spacious beer garden, and host fun events like movie screenings, holiday markets, and even Magic: The Gathering game night if you’ve been wanting to show off that deck you’ve been building.
The Marz taproom in Bridgeport feels like an art gallery from the future, has its own arcade, and serves excellent fried cheese tacos and smashburgers from their current resident pop-up, Taco Sublime. They also have karaoke, pub trivia, drink-and-draws, comedy shows, Super Smash Bros. tournaments, and more. Basically, this place is an event space as much as a taproom, but one where you can order a wine-cask-fermented wild ale.
Whiner is inside a massive Back Of The Yards warehouse-research facility called The Plant. And while we’re not exactly sure what type of research goes on here, we support it because Whiner’s beers are fantastic. They focus on barrel-aged brews with a variety of funky beers ranging from mango coconut stout to lime and cucumber ale. And make sure to check out their resident pop-up Heffer BBQ, which happens to have one of our favorite burgers. Their industrial taproom makes you ask “Is that really a crack in the ceiling or is that an artistic choice?” But there’s plenty of room here, so it’s perfect for post-work hangs or a birthday.
Logan Square's Middle Brow Bungalow looks a lot like your DIY-obsessed friends’ backyard wedding, so you might think for a second you’ll be drinking the awful home brew they made for guests to endure on their “special day.” But despite being decorated with lots of plants, tea lights, and reclaimed wooden picnic tables, this place is actually a brew pub with a nice selection of light, hoppy beers. As far as the food goes, get anything with the housemade bread, plus their excellent Neapolitan-inspired or tavern-style (only served on Tuesdays) pies.
For anyone who wants a fancy tasting menu with a beer pairing, there’s Moody Tongue in South Loop. The 12-course meal in their intimate dining room has dishes like lobster with black truffle and roast squab with wild strawberries. But if a $285 meal (plus $75 for beverage pairing) feels a bit much, their large bar is perfect. There, you can eat things like scallops and glazed veal sweetbread while drinking a fruit lychee IPA or a churro porter. But honestly, stopping by just for their 12-layer chocolate cake is a totally valid (and recommended) move.
It might be because of all the reclaimed wood and the living plant wall behind the bar, or the fact that it’s about 1/10 the size of most Chicago breweries, but drinking at Alulu feels like sitting in a childhood treehouse. The beers are great (like their Mexican lager with smoked poblano and jalapeno), you can order flights that include palate cleansers, and (unlike your treehouse) you won’t have to hide them from your parents. As a bonus, the food is also good, with Filipino-influenced dishes like lumpia and tangy BBQ ribs with rice.
Pizza and beer is a classic combination that fuels much of the Midwest. And Piece in Wicker Park serves both excellent pizza and solid beer (mainly bold-flavored lagers and ales). The chewy-crusted New Haven-style pies here are large and perfect for sharing. You can only make a reservation for ten or more people, but there’s a lot of seating, so even if you’re with a smaller group, you probably won’t have to wait too long for a table. There are a lot of TVs, too, so it’s an especially good choice on game days.
District Brew Yards in West Town is a collaboration of breweries, where you can pour your own beer. We’re not sure if we should have all that power, because whenever we go to a self-serve frozen yogurt shop we end up spending $17 on a cup with six flavors and nine toppings. But if you’re more responsible, you’ll have a good time building your own flights here. Plus they have some BBQ from Lillie’s Q.
There’s usually no middle ground when it comes to jam bands—you’d either follow Dead & Co. across the country or you’d rather listen to construction noise than a 30-minute guitar solo. But On Tour in West Town is a good place for people who want to watch live streams of Phish shows and Chicago sports—since they do both here. The space works well for all of these things, with comfortable couches and a garage door that’s open when the weather’s nice.
Dovetail’s bright Ravenswood space has plenty of bar seating, wooden booths, and huge tables—but it doesn’t feel uncomfortably cavernous. But the best part about this brewery is their massive outdoor space—it’s great for cooling down with a lager in the summer. They focus on European-style beer, and have a few snacks from local spots like Beard and Belly and Hannah’s Bretzel, but their BYOF policy means you can hard launch that watermelon salad your friends have never seen but are tired of hearing about.
Just one block away from Dovetail is Begyle, another favorite Ravenswood brewery. It’s dog-friendly, rotating food trucks and pop-ups come through often, and they have skee-ball. During busier times, the upstairs is usually open with two more skee-ball machines as well as bags boards. Go on the weekends for yoga, bingo, and more fun things you don’t usually do at breweries.
This Rogers Park spot proves that you don’t need a football field-sized warehouse for a great brewery. This tiny brewery is a bright boxy space with a bar in the middle and a handful of tables and barstools. But rather than being cramped, it has the feel of a cozy neighborhood cafe, except instead of lattes they have fantastic beer flights for a steal ($12). It’s BYOF and make sure to look out for fun events like trivia and storytelling nights.
Like a lot of breweries, Metropolitan’s Avondale taproom is a big warehouse-y space, but what makes it unique is that it’s right on the Chicago River. And even though it’s not the fancy part of the river with multi-million dollar condos, it’s still nice sitting out on their patio by the water. Plus, we bet that if any of those condo owners brew their own beer, it’s probably not as good as Metropolitan’s German-style lagers.
Though originally from Naperville, Solemn Oath has had a grip on Chicago’s beer scene since 2013. But it wasn’t until they opened their Logan Square taproom in 2021 that you could get drafts of Snaggletooth Bandana IPA and Lü without leaving the city limits. Their large space channels the energy of a classic Chicago tavern, complete with a Brunswick-style bar and a pool table. Plus, with everything from food pop-ups to pool tournaments, there’s always something going on here.
There are plenty of reasons to love Pilot Project in Logan Square. Their space has plenty of tables and comfy couches where you can get "work" done with a beer, and they have a massive outdoor patio for hanging out after getting “work” done. The short food menu is full of tasty dishes like tandoori naan with garlic dip or a sandwich with beer-braised chuck roast and caramelized onions. But the coolest thing about Pilot Project is that it’s actually an incubator for up-and-coming breweries. This means you can get a basmati rice lager from Azadi Brewing and a Spanish sangria tea IPA from Brewer’s Kitchen all on the same flight.
Crushed By Giants in River North is hidden on the second floor of a building with an AMC theater right above it. But movie time can wait—grab some food here first (the burger with a beef and bacon patty is excellent) along with a crisp Kolsch or a very pine-y IPA. Since it’s in River North, it’s common to find a handful of tourists and people with children hanging out next to the giant vats of beer, but it never feels overwhelming even if your tolerance for tourists is minimal.
You’re not a true Chicagoan until you’ve been to at least one wedding or reception here. It’s one of Chicago’s most popular brew pubs, and for good reason—both the beer and the food at this Logan Square spot are fantastic. You can get steak brisket tacos, burgers, and beer-battered fried mushrooms. Drink-wise, there’s something for every type of beer drinker. They don’t take reservations, and it’s always crowded, so expect a wait if you come here with a large group. Unless it’s your wedding—you can make a reservation for that.
Great Central’s high ceilings, long wooden tables, and German beers make it feel like a Munich beer hall—but one with shuffleboard, ping pong tables, and big windows that open up on nice days. This Near West Side spot doesn't offer flights or tasters, but you’ll feel better playing those games with a full stein of German beer, anyway.
One of Chicago’s funkier breweries, Off Color in Lincoln Park specializes in experimental beers that probably won’t show up at the more mainstream breweries in the city. We’re talking s’mores-inspired stouts and juicy Berliner Weisses with hints of yuzu and calamansi. Their Lincoln Park space has the DIY charm of their beer can artwork, and it has an outdoor patio that’s great in the summer. And you should definitely BYOF from El Tragón Taqueria nearby.
Eris is in a remodeled Masonic temple in Old Irving Park, and it’s kept some of the old details, like exposed brick and an ominous-looking safe in the entryway. It’s a huge space that can easily fit large groups, but also isn’t bad for a date. There’s a wide variety of ciders available, plus a few beers. And the food offerings include vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free dishes—so while you can get a BBQ brisket sandwich, you can also get a crispy cauliflower wrap. Not every place in Chicago could easily accommodate a mixer for vegans and BBQ lovers, so consider this a crowd-pleasing utility spot.
Hopewell feels sort of like the taproom for people who hate brewery taprooms. This Logan Square spot is not a big, dark building with exposed wood beams and beer barrels that could be hiding mice in every corner—it’s a well-lit space that looks like the lobby of a fun start-up. If you walk by at night, you’ll see a lot of people hanging out with their dogs and playing board games, and wonder 1) why that coffee shop is open so late, and 2) why it’s full of drunk people.
Stumbling across certain places can be like finding a real-life easter egg, like the tunnels below the Green Mill, or that rock in Hyde Park where the Obamas had their first kiss. Discovering Maplewood’s taproom, hidden at the very end of a residential street on the edge of Logan Square and Avondale, can feel like this. This small spot has the atmosphere of a rowdy corner bar, but instead of Old Style they’re serving schwarzbiers and blueberry milkshake IPAs.
This appropriately named brew pub in Old Irving Park is in an old warehouse (which you’ll be able to tell from the tall ceilings, cement floors, and giant garage door facing out towards the street). The menu is full of good beer-drinking food—burgers, pretzels, and fried things, mostly. It’s a family-friendly spot, with board games and other activities like bags, so you can expect to see kids running around, especially if you’re there on the early side. If that’s not your deal, sit in the front bar area where the only game being played is rock-paper-scissors for who’s getting the next round.
Dryhop in Lakeview is one of those spots that’s good for a date with someone you’ve never met before. In other words, it’s always a good time, and it won’t get awkward if you run out of things to talk about—just have another beer and eat some of the delicious, not-very-healthy bar food. Expect things like poutine, fried chicken, and very hoppy IPA beers. If that date doesn’t work out, this place is also great for a day-drinking session with friends.