From a long-time pizza joint where karaoke and signature suds take center stage to a slick South Loop taproom dedicated to serving local non-profit organizations, some of the best bars in Chicago boast impressive craft brewery programs. The city’s offerings run deep with brewers in the Windy City occupying an estimated 1.6 million square feet of commercial real estate, more than any other metro area in the country. That’s a lot of beer. Here are some top choices to check out.
Logan Square is home to Illinois’ largest craft brewery, Revolution Brewery—by far one of the best bars in Chicago. It opened in 2010 and in less than five years it’s become a cult classic with more than 50 craft brews on taps. The Anti-Hero IPA, French-style saison Coup D’Etat, and Double Fist pale ale are just a few favorites. The pub menu features hearty plates like braised lamb shank pasta, charcuterie, and mushroom polenta. A great place to grab some friends and snag a seat in a grand wooden booth, this bi-level bar bustles with energy and attracts neighborhood types as well as visiting beer fans.
Half Acre Beer Company
A North Center neighborhood gem, Half Acre Beer Company was the first local craft brewery to can beer. The 16-ounce tallboys come in colorfully designed cans created by local artists. Half Acre’s taproom is the latest addition, and it serves as a welcoming space for imbibers to enjoy all the beers on tap. Every first Friday of the month, staffers tap a 10-gallon firkin filled with one of the signature brews. There’s no food menu, but you’re welcome to bring a snack or order delivery from one of the many area restaurants and bars.
Piece Brewery and Pizzeria
Every Saturday is live band karaoke at Bucktown’s Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, one of the best bars in Chicago specializing in craft beer and pizza. The band plays every genre under the sun while beer enthusiasts order one of the many award-winning offerings. Of note is the double pale ale Take Back the Streets, which won a bronze medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival. There’s seven varieties of craft beer on tap, and they’re meant to be paired with the New Haven-style pizzas, all served with a generous amount of red sauce, Parmesan cheese, oregano, and olive oil.
Vice District Brewing
Every Monday is reserved for non-profit organizations at Vice District Brewing, an ambitious South Loop brewery opened by two homebrewers in 2014. The philanthropic duo donates profits from beer sales to local charities and participates in many neighborhood events. The taproom is set up in communal style, encouraging guests to interact with one another as they sip craft beers from the tap. From the blonde ale Pleasure Trip to the black IPA Habitual, there’s a ton to choose from, as well as pretzels at the bar and menus from surrounding restaurants if you want to order in food.
Matching chef-driven pub grub and beer is the specialty at DryHop Brewers, a contemporary brewery in Lakeview. As a DryHop patron, you’re part of the beer-making process watching the action right from your seat. The beer tanks are part of the dining room’s decor, and bartenders pour the hop-centric ales directly from their taps. They brew mostly traditional, Belgian, and experimental craft beers to complement dishes, such as the vegetarian Reuben made with grilled Portobello mushrooms, shrimp & grits topped with chorizo red gravy, and New York strip steak frites. Before you leave, grab your favorite beer to go in a 64-ounce growler.