Beer has always been there for us: Helping us overcome awkwardness at college parties, being the consummate companion for every sporting event, or as the perfect drink to compliment the best dish ever invented, pizza (duh). The usual suspects in town get all the (well-deserved) glory, but we went deep inside the Chicago beer scene to showcase our favorite breweries that are a little under the radar, but certainly worthy of scheduling a buzz at in the near future.
Head brewer Mike Pallen brought his love of music and beer together to create Mikerphone Brewing. After a couple years and many accolades later, this Elk Grove Village brewery is worth a trek to the 'burbs. The beer is approachable and fun, and with an ever changing list, there is always something for everyone, regardless of where you are on a scale of Bud Light to beer snob. The family friendly tap room serves 12 rotating taps from seasonal favorites to a variety of double dry-hopped pale ales. Get the sampler and try as many as you can within the 48oz serving limit. (No, they aren’t squares, it’s community enforced).
Photo courtesy of Mikerphone Brewing
We’re convinced that Logan Square’s Maplewood Brewery & Distillery is Chicago’s next big thing. Using your Sherlock Holmes-esque detective skills, you may have picked up that they’re not just brewing beer—they’re also distilling their own whiskeys in a Kothe column still, making them Chicago’s only combined brewery and distillery. The taproom is under construction, but you can find their brews around town. We recommend the Juice Pants IPA, or if you’re really into hops, the Husky Pants Double IPA. Oh, and the Fat Pug Oatmeal Stout.
What sets Moody Tongue apart from other breweries is their philosophy of "culinary brewing": Using a chef’s mindset to highlight flavors and aromatics. Brewmaster Jared Rouben cooked at the Michelin starred Martini House in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York City, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about balancing flavor. The taproom is also one of the most impressive in town, with Michelin-minded service, great food, and a mid-century modern design. The Sliced Nectarine IPA is a summertime classic, but for winter, we’re more into the Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter and Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner.
Photo courtesy of Moody Tongue Brewing
With decades of brewing for big brands under his belt, brewmaster Tommy Nicely launched All Rise—the brewing playground he had dreamed of. Unlike many of the other breweries, All Rise’s beer hall has not only their beers, but also guest brews, cocktails, and a full menu of locally sourced food, including large cuts of smoked meats. Beer-wise, we’re particularly fond of the appropriately named Wonder Beer, a citrusy, hoppy APA, and the Three Orange Wit white ale.
They say don’t judge a book by it's cover but does the same hold true for a beer label? In this case, the beautifully designed Marz labels are indeed an indication of the hoppy concoctions awaiting your taste buds. Marz Community Brewing is a labor of love from a collection of home brewers, artists, and professional brewers in their beloved Bridgeport neighborhood. Their highly anticipated tap room is now open, but you can also buy their brews in many craft beer bars and stores, as well as where it all started, Maria’s Community Bar and Packaged Goods.
Photo courtesy of Marz