Thinking about one's own mortality is heavy stuff. Man, that sentence was a downer. Who needs a beer? Specifically, these 23 Illinois beers to drink before you die!
Why 23? Umm, maybe you've heard of Michael Jordan? Ryne Sandberg? Devin Hester? Robin Ventura and... Kris Versteeg and/or Stu Grimson?! Yeah, exactly. Also, it's two more than the number of electoral votes the Land of Lincoln has, and it's also a prime number. Case closed.
As for choosing the individual beers? Well, they had to be brewed in Illinois (or have a REALLY good case for an exception... more on that later). They had to, in one way or another, exhibit a certain something special, a little beer ne sais quoi, if you will. And they had to be either distributed enough that you could reasonably expect to be able to get your hands on one, or at least good enough that tracking them down would surely be damn well worth the trouble.
Oh, and they had to be limited to no more than two per brewery, for variety's sake.
Are these the 23 best beers in Illinois? Well, who's to say, really. Some people are hooked on sour beers and others won't touch the stuff. Some people chase a heavy hit of hops every chance they get, and others... just drink whatever happens to be cheapest at the time. But whatever your style, these brews represent some of the most singular and significant Illinois has to offer, and an excellent overview of the state's collective beer prowess. For now, at least. There will have been another 300 incredible new beers released by the time you finish reading this. But enough preamble. To the beers!
American pale ale, 5.5%
So, it was undoubtedly a wise move to recognize Chicago’s collective obsession with its own flag and adorn this fetching can in a Chi flag motif (not to mention the Statue of the Republic from Jackson Park). But none of that would have mattered if the beer within wasn’t a supremely drinkable, just-above-session ale that hits all the right hop notes, a combo that has made it pretty much a requirement for any self-respecting summer barbecue.
Revolution’s Eugene Porter is an outstanding representation of the style. It gets even better when it hangs out in bourbon barrels with some Dark Matter coffee.