Recently I had the luck to be invited to represent Chicago in a nation-wide round up of beer bloggers’ review of their favorite beer from their home state. Bryan Roth from This Is Why I’m Drunk is our host and had only a few rules:
Here are the rules:
- Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
- Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
- Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
- Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.
Chicago really has taken a place as a craft brew haven. With a multitude of breweries opening up, or establishing themselves, (six of which are listed below), and even more on the horizon, Chicago is becoming a great beer vacation! For this round of The Six-Pack Project I am representing, you guessed it, Chicago. The breweries listed below are operated inside the city limits, and offer bottles or cans for sale (some offer growlers/howlers!). There are many others that either only offer their wares on draft, or in growlers. While their beer may be fantastic, sadly, they didn’t make the cut here.
Chicago has long been the city of big shoulders, and with big shoulders that means you make your own way in life (especially through doors that are too small), so the beers below are a mix of my absolute go-to’s as well as those that represent the do-it-yourself nature of Chicago.
Continuing in the vein of self starters with a goal, something surely not unique to Chicago, Half Acre distributing it’s first brew with an army of one, comes Over Ale. The “style-less wonder” (officially an American style bitter) presents with a deep amber color, and roasty looking head.
These guys are my favorite brewery in Chicago by far. Their zeal for trying new beers since 2006 and knocking them out of the park brings these guys to the front of any beer conversation I have.
Over Ale has a nice hefty malt backbone balanced well with bitter and hop nose. Balancing the hops on the nose is a syrup nose. It has a nice alcohol hint, great bitter flavor with a light mouth feel and clean finish with just a kick of acidic bitter at the back of your tongue. This is a great session or pairing beer. I like mine with Thai food, or anything else exotic and spicy in need of a palate cutter.
Born of two friends united after a “spiteful incident” on the ice when they were kids Brad Shaffer and Jason Klein have started a nano-brewery in the Ravenswood neighborhood on the North Side. They epitomize the D.I.Y. attitude, in a Chicagoist interview they said, “We want to put our time in. We want to learn. I don’t want to hire a head brewer and not understand the process, because it’s our company. We want to bring great beer to a great city one bar at a time.” Their care and devotion shine through in Ghost Bike.
Ghost Bike starts off with a sweet nose comprised of honey and malt, flowery front on the sip. It lingers with a sticky mouth feel and a rounded fresh grapefruit middle. It treats you nice with a great head that stays almost creamy. As with pales it rides a loooooooooong finish and a great aftertaste.
A real mainstay in Chicago if only having been around since 2010, their clenched left fist tap handles are always ones to look for when you walk into a bar. I love the clenched left fist as a clenched left fist means armed revolution (as your right is typically holding a rifle!) this to me indicates their desire to overturn convention while still producing mass quantities.
A great craft serving in a six-pack of cans. This presents with a great nose, perfectly hop balanced with that tell tale of a nice strong malt backbone. The bitter hits you right away, and rides the sides of your tongue. The bitter hangs on through the end finishes long and silky. The body is still light and this is just one hell of a refreshing beer.
The only thing that I don’t like about this six pack is the can holder. Its a recyclable carrier, and the plastic is hard to get off the cans… I know, I know… first world problems, right?
As with all the breweries here Metropolitan does it differently and their own way. The only brewery in Chicago that produces only Lagers means that you can count on anything Metropolitan to refresh in the summer or after helping a friend move. All their beers take their names after components of industry, which just ads to the Chicago-ness, and industrial history of our fair town.
Dynamo Copper Lager introduces with a malt heavy nose and not a whole lot of hop. It carries a nice easy bitter finish on a light body. Of course being a lager, it is highly drinkable. I suggest a glass every time for this one as it has a metallic tang which seems to be more noticeable than others. With a great summer looming this is a wonderful companion to sun-drenched patios.
Pipeworks, a gypsy brewery making their “home” in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, is making a run for my top brewery in Chicago. Their beers are big in flavor and peculiar in approach, I couldn’t be more impressed with their offering of Majestic. Majestic is billed as an English Style Summer Ale, an interesting combination for sure.
It starts off with a nice grassy nose along with a golden hue and a hint of amber, and the flavor completely surprises in the best way, mellow and complex. There’s a notes of citrus fruit but with a great clean finish. Majestic plays around on your tongue as if it can’t decide which side to show you first. It’s very drinkable, which might get you in trouble as it clocks in at 7%. It finishes long and bitter, as you would expect from an English bitter.
Paired with some salmon or smokey pulled pork sandwiches (with Carolina style vinegar sauce, not molasses based!) you’d have a recipe for a great evening.
Chi-Town, what’s more Chicago than a beer named after the transportation and cultural hub of the Mid-West. Effervescent, with a light head. Bright straw yellow and just a touch cloudy. Medium body and mouth feel. You get great white bread toastyness as the carbonation tickles the tongue. The middle and finish is where the complexity comes in. Not overly complex, but a great representation of a Belgian white ale. There is a touch of that Belgian yeast flavor with some light (almost not noticeable) banana. This is a very well balanced and yet another highly drinkable beer. Perfect for warm weather BBQs!
Check out what my fellow beer bloggers had to say:
- Ohio by Tom from Queen City Drinks
- Illinois by Grant of Hop Brained (focus on Chicago – rest of state coming in July)
- Maryland by Oliver of Literature and Libation and Douglas of Baltimore Bistros and Beer
- New York by Lacey of Once Upon A Stein
- Kentucky by Tom and Carla of Hoperatives