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Beer: English for Beer.
Jill Jaracz
6/6/2008



West Lakeview Liquors

Now that you live in the city, you’ve become a little more sophisticated about what you do, wear, eat, and drink. When it comes to drinking beer, you don’t want any of that Miller or Bud water that suburbanites drink. No, you want the good stuff, the craft beer, the microbrews. But where do you get it?




The Map Room




Hopleaf

Known nationally for being one of the best bars for Belgian beers, Hopleaf is one of the jewels of Andersonville. Their menu includes a nice variety of American microbrews, but you really go here for the Belgians. The 14-page list of bottled beers lets you take a tour of Belgium in a glass--or many glasses, since Belgian beers are served in a glass specific to their particular beer. This is another bar where it pays to get there early in the evening because it fills up quickly. Plus, you’ll want to have dinner here too because the food is fantastic.




Goose Island Brewing Company

Who makes it?

If you find it hard to choose from so many beers, head to one of the brewpubs. The biggest and most well known of these is Goose Island Brewing Company. Named after the island in the Chicago River, Goose Island’s been serving up quality beers since 1988. They currently have two locations, one in Lincoln Park and one in Wrigleyville, but the Lincoln Park location will close at the end of the year because they lost their lease. However, while it’s still open, you can take a tour of the facility and learn about the brewing process. It costs five bucks, but you do get samples at the end. You can also find their beer in many other bars and liquor stores throughout the area.




Piece

Piece pizzeria and microbrewery is home to Jonathan Cutler, the 2006 World Beer Cup champion for small brewpub. They serve New Haven-style pizza along with some excellent beers in a variety of styles, all of which have won at least one major beer award. Although you can’t buy this stuff in stores, you can take home growlers of your favorites.

It may be a chain brewpub, but Rock Bottom Brewery does have an award-winning brewmaster on staff who crafts beer specific to the Chicago location. Join their Mug Club, and you’ll be rewarded for drinking there. They also have regular beer tapping events.
 

One Chicago beer that doesn’t have its own pub space is Half Acre, a new entrant on the Chicago beer scene. Although the recipes are created by Chicagoans, the beer is actually made by a contract brewer in Wisconsin. They currently offer a lager beer that you can find in many bars and liquor stores throughout the city.




Andersonville Wine and Spirits

Where to buy it.

The two major liquor superstores in Chicago, Sam’s Wine and Spirits and Binny’s both devote considerable space to microbrews from around the world. West Lakeview Liquors, while small, has an interesting and varied selection of craft beer, along with knowledgeable staff to answer any questions you might have. If you want to recreate your Hopleaf experience at home, try Andersonville Wine and Spirits for their good collection of Belgians at decent prices. In Bucktown, check out Foremost Liquors for their wide variety.




Binny's Beverage Depot

How to live it.

Now that you know where to go and what to drink, maybe you want to learn more about beer itself. Many bars and stores host tasting events. The Map Room has a program they call Beer School. Held monthly on a Saturday, it’s an opportunity to learn a particular style of beer, how it’s made and how different varieties of that style taste. 

Sheffield’s has plans in the works for a Beer School hosted by The Beer Dudes, but they also host an event called Reading Under the Influence, where on the first Wednesday of the month writers gather to drink, write, and then read their alcohol-influenced works.

You can also join the Chicago Beer Society, an organization dedicated to the appreciation of beer. Along with monthly meetings, they sponsor annual events, such as the Chicagoland Brewpub and Microbrewery Shootout, where local brewmasters go head to head with their best beers, and Night of the Living Ales, a regional competition to vote the best real ale of Chicagoland.

If all of this inspires you to try your hand at homebrewing, you can get supplies at Bev Art Brewer & Winemaker Supply. They also give classes on homebrewing to help you with your first batch.

For those who really want to learn the brewing process and become a master brewer, you can attend the Siebel Institute of Technology and Brewing. This internationally renowned school with campuses in Munich, Montreal, and Chicago is the premier place to learn everything about beer and brewing. You can take everything from two-day beer styles classes to the twelve-week diploma in brewing technology. Some of these programs do run in the thousands of dollars, but you are learning from the best in the world, and for those who are passionate about creating beer, it’s well worth the expense. 

All this beer talk has made me thirsty, and since my mug and fridge are empty, it’s time to head out to one of these fine establishments and enjoy the tastiness of a fine microbrew.




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