As the craft beer Renaissance charges ahead unabated, new breweries continue to pop up all over the city and suburbs faster than anyone can keep track of. Anyone except us, of course (we don’t have a lot else going on). So fill up your growler and settle in for a rundown of the best new area breweries worth trying.
Elk Grove Village
Born in March 2015, Mikerphone combines owner Mike Pallen’s two loves of beer and music into small batch, experimental-leaning offerings with cool music-sounding names like Smells Like Bean Spirit (breakfast stout with coffee and maple syrup), Misty Mountain Hop (IPA) and Daft Funk (Berliner Weisse fermented in wine barrels) served in either 24oz “big ass” cans or 750ml bottles. Originally an offshoot of South Lawndale’s SlapShot Brewing, Mikerphone has recently moved into its own 4,000sqft space in Elk Grove Village with plans for a tasting room later this year.
Opened in October 2015 from the folks who brought you DryHop, this Southport brewpub is all about farmhouse ales and hop-forward brews -- with the food pairings to match. Match your Cotton Candy Goat (French table beer with pear, citrus, and vanilla), Grind Your Bones (IPA with pineapple, pine, and tropical fruit), or Blame John Cusack (Belgian Trappist ale with raisin, caramel, and toffee) with standout pub eats like fried oyster po-boys, double steak patty burgers, and Belgian mussels. Beers are only available at the brewery or in 32oz cans, but they’ll be happy to fill up your 64oz growler if you remember to bring yours along.
A rising star in the local brew scene, former homebrewer/Metropolitan intern Gary Gulley started beer production in March 2015 in an 11,000sqft space on Peterson. While he is most famous for his Pantsless pale ale, a highly drinkable low-bitterness American-style IPA with US and New Zealand hops, his Impulsion oatmeal stout and Phobophobia Patersbier (a “father’s beer” made with German pilsner malt, Czech hops, and Trappist ale yeast) are no slouches either. According to Gulley, “I no longer drink sh*t beer. Ever.” And that is an accomplishment in itself.
This community-supported nanobrewery opened to the public in November 2014, the brainchild of Evanston Homebrew Club members Shawn Decker and Cesar Marron. Sketchbook focuses on small-batch beers with strictly local distribution served up from seven rotating taps or in to-go growlers and howlers. With a strong variety of brews for a newbie ranging from the Smokey Jack pumpkin saison and the Honeybird honey basil pale ale, to the Frogtown golden English bitter and the Grodziskie Polish smoked wheat, you’re pretty much guaranteed to discover your new favorite beer of 2016 here.
If Ron Swanson were to open a brewpub, it would look something like this former break room for wood workers on Montrose that comes equipped with its own 40ft bar inlaid with a piece of 300 million-year-old petrified wood. While it’s the perfect place to sip their El Segundo Nitro brown porter or Sir Monti Rose English IPA, Breakroom’s real claim to fame is its power-packed 10% ABV Imperial Lakta milk stout with dark chocolate, roasted coffee, caramel, and toasted nut flavors. For food, there are burgers with beer-soaked fries, beer-battered calamari, beer cheese soup... well, you get the idea.
With the assistance of a $628,000 investment from the city to help spur economic development in Chicago’s historic Motor Row District, this brewery opened last January in a former Ford showroom built in 1910. Their “craft beer from the city that works” includes easy-drinking offerings like the Munich Helles lager, Reclamation lager, the American pilsner Out of the Loop, and the Belgian honey blonde Dry Humor. Tour the 8,700sqft facility on the Chicago Brew Bus, or, if you’re fancy, email them to set up your own private tour. They’re also now tapping Motor Row’s new Frozen Pond black lager in honor of the brewery’s frigid one year anniversary.
Uncommon Ground owner Michael Cameron has opened the state’s first certified organic brewery next door to the restaurant’s Wrigleyville location using 100% organic malted barley and hops. Featuring a seven-barrel brewhouse along with serving tanks that feed directly into Uncommon Ground’s tap system, Greenstar’s crisp, fresh-tasting offerings include Spaceship IPA, Mixmaster Mocha porter, and Peace, Love & Flipflops summer wheat ale. If you get your growler filled here, 5% of proceeds go to a new local charity every month, so you can feel good about drinking (even though you already do).
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Jay Gentile is a Thrillist contributor, and he would totally grab a beer with Ron Swanson if he asked. Follow @innerviewmag
1. Mikerphone Brewing107 Garlisch Dr, Elk Grove Village
2. Corridor Brewery & Provisions3446 N Southport Ave, Chicago
3. Alarmist Brewing4055 W Peterson Ave Ste Rear, Chicago
4. Sketchbook Brewing Co.825 Chicago Ave, Evanston
5. Breakroom Brewery2925 W Montrose Ave, Chicago
6. Motor Row Brewing2337 S Michigan Ave, Chicago
7. Greenstar Brewing3800 North Clark Street, Chicago
This is one of our favorite new breweries in the Chicago area.
This Southport brewpub is a new hot spot in Chicago, serving up delicious beer and bar food.
We can't get enough of the beer on tap over at Alarmist Brewing.
We love exploring the new beers on tap at Sketchbook Brewing Company
One visit to the Breakroom Brewery will make you wish that your break room served beer.
Motor Row Brewing is a must-visit for beer lovers.