Food & Drink

How many of these quintessential Chicago beers have you had?

Published On 03/03/2014 Published On 03/03/2014

Part of being a Chicagoan involves drinking lots of different types of beers -- craft beers, beer pong beers, craft-beers-you-use-as-beer-pong-beers-because-you're-out-of-beer-pong-beers beers. With help from a panel of local beer writers, brewers, and shop owners, we identified 15 that define what it means to be a Chicago beer-drinker. They're not all made in Illinois, and they're not all "best overall beers", these are simply the beers you have to have had if you’re a drinker in the city.

Count up how many you've tried (there are 15 total), then hit the bottom of the page to see what your tally says about you and your Chi beer-drinking status.

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Begyle Brewing Company
The Beer: Begyle Blonde
"Legend has it, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited Begyle Brewing's recently opened storefront, he drank Begyle's light, fruity Blond ale. If it's good enough for Hizzoner, it's good enough for you." - Ryan Hermes, Guys Drinking Beer

Flickr/Christer Edvartsen

The Brewery: Goose Island
The Beer: Bourbon County
"Goose Island invented the Bourbon Barrel Stout, and it only seems to get better and better. Massive in every way, this beer is the unequivocal king of the Chicago beer scene." - Chris Quinn, The Beer Temple

Flickr/Hungry Dudes

The Brewery: Bell's Brewery
The Beer: Two Hearted Ale
"Decently priced and readily available in Chicago for some time (aside from the Kalamzoo Brewing kerfuffle five years ago). The balance between the citrus/floral hop aromas and flavors, and the big malt body, makes for a refreshing, tasty beer, and it has just enough alcohol to give you the buzz you're looking for, without the bloat." - Bryan Grohnke, Middle Brow Beer Co

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Off Color Brewing
The Beer: Troublesome
"At times, the craft beer market can seem like an arms race of excessive hops and high alcohol content, but the guys at Off Color Brewing in Logan Square are leading us out of the darkness. Troublesome is their interpretation of an old German beer style that's low in alcohol, lightly sour, and spiced with salt and coriander. It's the perfect gateway to craft beer for the Chicago Everyman." - Bryan Grohnke, Middle Brow Beer Co.

Revolution Brewing

The Brewery: Revolution
The Beer: Eugene Porter
"This roasty, chocolatey porter has been a life line this Winter. It has a velvety mouthfeel and at 7% ABV, it will keep you warm no matter how many Polar Vortexes (Vortices?) attack us." - Jessica Murphy, Girls Like Beer Too

Old Style Beer

The Brewery: Old Style
The Beer: Old Style Lager
"Is there anything more iconic in Chicago than that crummy, perpetually yellow Old Style sign? Old Style might not be the best mass-produced lager on the market (that would be PBR), and it's never actually been brewed in Chicago. But any beer promoted by Dennis Farina is a Chicago beer in my book. I always order an extra pint for my lost loved ones, and resign myself to two days of gut rot in honor of the city by the lake." - Pete Ternes, Middle Brow Beer Co


The Brewery: Baderbrau
The Beer: Chicago Pilsener
"Originally brewed in 1988 right here in Chicago, Baderbrau's pilsener lager is back after a short hiatus. Thankfully." - Chris Quinn, The Beer Temple

Kieth Hebert

The Brewery: Three Floyd's
The Beer: Alpha King
"Alpha King is Chicago's original go-to beer for hop lovers. Once the first, and still the best pale ale in Chicagoland." - Chris Quinn, The Beer Temple

Brewery Vivant

The Brewery: Brewery Vivant
The Beer: Triomphe
"Only distributed in Michigan and Chicago, this Grand Rapids, MI brewery excels across its lineup of Belgian-inspired beers. One of my favorites is this Belgian IPA, which is rife with yeast, dry fruit, and peppery spice." - Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Pipeworks Brewing Co.
The Beer: Ninja vs. Unicorn
"Every Chicagoan even moderately into craft beer has probably had a double IPA from Pipeworks.  Ninja vs. Unicorn, Galaxy Unicorn, Simcoe Ninja, & Citra Ninja are just a handful of this ridiculously popular style of beers from Pipeworks. They have a new offering just about every week, and they almost never disappoint." - Kyle Fornek,  Binny’s Beverage Depot


The Brewery: Lagunitas
The Beer: Little Sumpin' Sumpin'
"This beer is wheat beer/IPA-hybrid on steroids. It is far too easy to drink for a 7.5% ABV, and impossible to just have one. Lagunitas has trouble meeting the demand the Chicago market has for Little Sumpin' Sumpin', despite supplying the Windy City with thousands of cases each month. This problem should go away when they start production in their gigantic Chicago brewery, which is going to happen sooner rather than later." - Kyle Fornek,  Binny’s Beverage Depot

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Half Acre
The Beer: Daisy Cutter
"I cannot say enough great things about this hoppy pale ale. It is approachable for the craft beer novice, yet the bright hop bitterness entices the craft beer geek. If this is not your everyday, go-to beer, it should be." - Jessica Murphy, Girls Like Beer Too

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Metropolitan Brewing
The Beer: Flywheel
"Lagers do not make their way into craft brewery rotations very often, as they not only take longer to ferment, but they also take up valuable fermenter real estate while the yeast slowly chugs along at cold temperatures. So you have to respect a brewery that focuses solely on lagers and lager-hybrids. Flywheel is a bright, tasty, Pilsener-style lager that will change the way you think of this style forever." - Jessica Murphy, Girls Like Beer Too

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Hofbräuhaus München
The Beer: Hofbräu Original
"This Helles Lager on its own is fine. A perfectly acceptable German beer to wash down a plate of Rouladen at Laschets Inn. But throw it in a large plastic mug and drink it on the streets of Lincoln Square's annual Maifest, and it tastes like the best beer you've ever had." - Ryan Hermes, Guys Drinking Beer

Sean Cooley

The Brewery: Two Brothers Brewing Company
The Beer: Sidekick 
"Sidekick is classified as an 'extra pale ale', and is quite possibly the best beer we have ever offered from Two Brothers. With its incredibly juicy hop nose and drinkability, there should be a spot for this on every lawnmower." - Kyle Fornek, Binny’s Beverage Depot

Alright, time to tally things up. How many of the 15 quintessential Chicago beers have you had?

0 beers -- Are you visiting from Iceland? Tweet Your Score
1-3 beers -- You typically only drink green beer on St. Patrick's Day/aren't sure what kind that is. Tweet Your Score
4-6 beers -- And they all came with shots. In Wrigleyville. The same day. Tweet Your Score
7-9 beers -- You spend more time in the Binny's wine section, but're starting to come around. Tweet Your Score
10-12 beers -- You've been known to frequent The Map Room. Tweet Your Score
13-14 beers -- They know you at The Map Room. Tweet Your Score
15 beers -- Harry Caray is looking down on you with great admiration. Tweet Your Score

Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he knows to never get involved in a land war in Asia. Follow him @SeanCooley.