Chicago’s 36 Best Local Craft Beers

What to Drink This Summer and Beyond

Beer glasses
Bottom’s up: Two Brothers’ Cane and Ebel
 

It was tough—brutal, even—and yet, despite great hardship, we managed to nurse our way through the area’s collective beer menu, assembling a must-drink checklist that we think hits the spot. How we did it: To avoid the murky waters of one-off experimental batches and elusive seasonal specials, we stuck to varieties available year-round. We limited our search to beers brewed within 50 miles of the Loop, and we skipped all chains (sorry, Rock Bottom). We read countless reviews and consulted persnickety beer snobs, but we made the final cut using our sharpest instruments: our own taste buds, finely tuned after sampling 159 beers. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Spill your thoughts in the comments section below. We’re always up for another round.

Related:

« BEST HOMETOWN BREWS
Check out the 36 best brews in Chicago

10 THINGS… »
Homebrewing and beer-drinking tips, plus our beer-making video and details on our beer release party

TOP BARS, GASTROPUBS, AND LIQUOR STORES »
Our 15 favorite places to find craft beer

BEER SCHOOLED »
A history of the Siebel Institute of Technology

WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE NOW? »
Four connoisseurs tell us what they’re drinking

THROWING A BEER TASTING PARTY »
Pros tell us how to pair beer with food

CCBW 2011 »
Check out pics from this year’s Chicago Craft Beer Week

Plus:
Download your own tasting sheet (PDF)

And vote in our poll to name Chicago’s signature summer brew on our Facebook page

FOR BACKYARD SALUTES
Crown’s Special Forces IPA

With eight doses of hops, Special Forces is no shrinking violet: While some India pale ales (IPAs) aim to balance bitterness with perfumey florals, this beer comes to the rescue with an appealingly toasty malt finish. It’s a pint worth raising in honor of the U.S. Army Ranger for whom it was named. Think better backyard barbecues—brats, not hot dogs—on the Fourth of July. 6.4% alcohol by volume (ABV). $5 pint, $14 pitcher. Crown Brewing, 211 S. East St., Crown Point, Ind.; 219-663-4545, crownbrewing.com

 

FOR BLOCKBUSTER THIRSTS
Emmett’s McCarthy Red Ale

Coming this summer to a multiplex near you: Snake Plissken is back in Escape from Navy Pier, fighting a militia of Build-A-Bears armed with saltwater taffy. Victorious, our hero reaches for an ice-cold McCarthy, turns his head toward the nuclear sun, and squints his one good eye—you know, the typical action-flick fare. If, after paying ten bucks for a box-office flop, you could use a drink, make like Plissken and reach for this hoppy, caramel-laced red ale—a great postfilm replenisher. 5.2% ABV. $5 pint, $14 pitcher, $135 half-barrel keg.

FOR A FAIL-SAFE SIPPER
Emmett’s Victory Pale Ale

As Dr. Seuss wrote of this pleasantly flowery pale ale in the long-lost volume One Beer, Two Beer, This Beer? Yes, Beer: “I would drink it on a lark. I would drink it in a park. I would drink it here or there. I would drink it anywhere.” 5.6% ABV. $5 pint, $14 growler ($10 refill)

Emmett’s Brewing Company; three locations, including Emmett’s Tavern, 128 W. Main St., West Dundee; 847-428-4500, emmettsalehouse.com

 

FOR THINKING IPA DRINKERS
Figure Eight’s Where Lizards Dare

There are some who would gush over this brew’s big brother, Snake Pro, an imperial IPA that cranks every dial up to 11. We’re not those people, but we do love it for one reason: Going big on Snake Pro left room in F8’s lineup for a subtler IPA, and Lizard is nearly quichelike in creaminess. If you visit the storefront brewery, don’t miss the Scapegoat ESB or the Black Corridor imperial chocolate stout, two nitrogen pours that would have topped our list if they were available year-round (yep, that’s a hint). 4% ABV. $4 pint, $6.50/22 oz. bottle. Figure Eight Brewing, 150 Washington St., Valparaiso, Ind.; 219-477-2000, figure8brewing.com

 

FOR POSTGAME TOASTS
Finch’s Cut Throat

This pale ale just hatched in April, but some 50 local bars have already taken it under wing and put it on draft (cans are on tap for later this summer). Biscuity on the front end, Cut Throat leaves you expecting a smooth, creamy finish but instead pulls a game-time pinch hit, finishing with a sharp spearmint snap—perfect for that round or two with pals following your weekly softball game. 5.5% ABV. $5.50 pint. The Beer Bistro (1061 W. Madison St.; 312-433-0013) and other locations; finchbeer.com

 

FOR FISH TACOS
5 Rabbit’s 5 Lizard

Hold on to your tamales. The nascent brewery 5 Rabbit takes traditional recipes and reworks them with Latin American flavors: Imagine if your witbier tired of the damp chill that is Brussels and took a spring break jaunt to Mexico. The result is this Belgian-style wheat beer, Mexican-style, with notes of coriander, passion fruit, and citrus. In a word: limey (and delicious). 4.3% ABV. $5 pint. Map Room (1949 N. Hoyne Ave.; 773-252-7636) and other locations; 5rabbitbrewery.com

 

FOR THE CRAFTPHOBIC
Flatlander’s Lincolnshire Lager

Hang on, haters: This beer isn’t for you; it’s for your dad or brother or client who swears he’d rather have a Bud. The faults we find with Flatlander’s other one-note offerings aren’t a con here, as LL’s mild corn-fed flavor will be comfortingly familiar to fans of mainstream American lagers but gets them drinking local. You, meanwhile, can order Flatlander’s presentable Jackson Wit and pat yourself on the back for spreading the craft gospel. 4.9% ABV. $4.25 pint, $14 pitcher, $95 half-barrel keg. Flatlander’s Restaurant & Brewery, 200 Village Green Dr., Lincolnshire; 847-821-1234, flatlanders.com

 

FOR THE EVOLVED PALATE
Flossmoor Station’s Gandy Dancer Honey Ale

We don’t know why Flossmoor doesn’t bottle this peppery sweet and delightfully viscous pale ale, unless it involves some sort of nectar-of-the-gods exclusivity contract. Perhaps the beer’s sneaky complexity is too good for mere mortals who shop in grocery stores. 5.8% ABV. $4.50 pint, $13 pitcher.

FOR CLOVER HUGGERS
Flossmoor Station’s Iron Horse Stout

Sure, Guinness is an approachable pour for a day of marathon drinking and river dyeing, but a true locavore would pick up this tarry, oaty domestic alternative for an authentic St. Pat’s, South Side Irish–style. 5.6% ABV. $4.50 pint, $15.95 growler ($11.95 refill)

FOR NAVIGATING NIPPY TREKS
Flossmoor Station’s Pullman Brown Ale
(Click here for a sample tasting sheet for this beer)
There’s something downright colonial about this big and chewy brown. It’s what we’d want in our canteen when crossing the Delaware—a leathery, all-American tonic that warms the chest on icy trails. If there’s no nation-building on your horizon, reward yourself with a pint at the end of a bracing commute: Flossmoor Station is steps from the Metra Electric District line. 6% ABV. $4.50 pint, $50/28-pint keg

Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, 1035 Sterling Ave., Flossmoor; 708-957-2739, flossmoorstation.com

 

Photograph: Anna Knott

 

Good Island's Fleur
A rose-colored glass: Goose Island’s Fleur

Hey, Anheuser-Busch InBev: 312 is all yours, but the three Geese following represent the recipes we most hope you keep your mitts off.

FOR THE BEST ICED TEA EVER
Goose Island’s Fleur

Envision your grandma’s Southern veranda, complete with a pitcher of sun-steeped iced tea. Now imagine the scene transported to your boozy back deck. That’s Fleur, a beer brewed with hibiscus and kombucha that could have been sickeningly saccharine or stale-tea-bag sour but instead is a welcome revelation, echoing the typical pale-ale profile but pulling its flavors from the most unexpected places. 5.2% ABV. $10.99 four-pack.

FOR THE LOVE OF MEAT
Goose Island’s Pepe Nero

A so-called black saison, Pepe is dark as charcoal and primal as raw meat. Think wood chips, peppercorn, and the rarest au jus—bloody, even—with an underlying earthy sweetness. We may be in the thick of summer now, but remember those days when it was too cold to turn on the grill, much less shiver outside for five minutes a side? Pepe is for then. 6% ABV. $7.99/22 oz. bottle

Binny’s (213 W. Grand Ave.; 312-332-0012) and other locations; gooseisland.com

 

Related:

« BEST HOMETOWN BREWS
Check out the 36 best brews in Chicago

10 THINGS… »
Homebrewing and beer-drinking tips, plus our beer-making video and details on our beer release party

TOP BARS, GASTROPUBS, AND LIQUOR STORES »
Our 15 favorite places to find craft beer

BEER SCHOOLED »
A history of the Siebel Institute of Technology

WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE NOW? »
Four connoisseurs tell us what they’re drinking

THROWING A BEER TASTING PARTY »
Pros tell us how to pair beer with food

CCBW 2011 »
Check out pics from this year’s Chicago Craft Beer Week

Plus:
Download your own tasting sheet (PDF)

And vote in our poll to name Chicago’s signature summer brew on our Facebook page

FOR LADIES WHO BRUNCH
Goose Island’s Sofie

Move over, Miller. Turns out Sofie is really the Champagne of beers, with more bubbles per taste bud than a jeroboam of brut. Zesty and sprightly, this saison will please sparkling-wine drinkers and seafood lovers alike, but its citrusy notes get us thinking breakfast or—better yet—a hip bridal shower. A word of advice to overworked bridesmaids: Why mix beermosas when you can raise a flute of this sassy lass? 6.5% ABV. $7/12 oz. pour, $15/22 oz. bottle. Goose Island Clybourn, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-915-0071

 

FOR DRINKABLE SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

In the old days, Dad cracked open a can of Coors after his weekly lawn-mowing expedition, but today’s sophistidad turns to Daisy Cutter, a tangy pale ale bursting with whiffs of dandelion and mulch that glides down the gullet like silky extra virgin olive oil. 5.2% ABV. $8.99 four-pack.

FOR OKTOBERFESTIVITIES
Half Acre’s Over Ale

There’s something almost briny about this cola-colored brown ale, a surprise given its malty-sweet aroma. Within a few sips, we’re craving a hearty German snack. Pass the sauerbraten and spätzle, bitte. 6.5% ABV. $8.99 four-pack

Half Acre Beer Company, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-248-4038, halfacrebeer.com

 

FOR HAMBURGLING
Hamburger Mary’s Gangster Hopped-Up Amber Ale

Need some liquid courage? This amber only smells like malt whiskey; at less than 6 percent alcohol, a nip won’t knock you flat. While Gangster probably would help steel the nerves before a bank heist, we find it a formidable partner for Mary’s criminally good half pound of Angus beef. 5.6% ABV. $4.50 pint, $16 pitcher. Hamburger Mary’s, 5400 N. Clark St.; 773-784-6969, hamburgermarys.com

 

FOR LAWN CHAIR ENTHUSIASTS
Haymarket’s Mathias Imperial IPA

There you are, about to sip a cold one after a long day at work, when suddenly you smell fresh-cut grass in the air. Or is that your brew? You take another whiff: Hello, hops—and yet this refreshing IPA doesn’t have the grab-you-by-the-ears bitterness you might expect. Launched in 2010, Haymarket doesn’t promise any official year-round beers, but, thankfully, Mathias is like some weeds: It keeps popping up. 10.5% ABV. $9 pint, $32 growler ($27 refill). Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St.; 312-638-0700, haymarketbrewing.com

 

FOR NORTHWOODS WANDERING
Limestone’s Flying Pig Imperial IPA

Grab a growler to go, then head to Wisconsin for a weekend of the three Cs—camping, canoeing, consuming beer—or just pitch a tent in the yard and pretend you’re in nature, as this IPA packs enough pine to fill a forest. Hoppy as a hare and bitter as a backwoods hermit, the Pig smells as strong as it tastes, which might help drown out your own eau de outdoors after a couple of days in the wild sans shower. 8.14% ABV. $6.50/10.5 oz. pour, $16 growler.

FOR THE LOVE OF WHEAT
Limestone’s Wheatlander

Seriously, what’s in the water in the western suburbs? We were pleased as spiked punch with several of Limestone’s brews, but this hefeweizen had us at first sip: a big, bouncy gulp bursting with banana. When you name a beer after your home turf (Wheaton Township encompasses Plainfield), you’d better not screw it up; fortunately, this unfiltered ale ably sidesteps the soapy aftertaste of lesser wheats (we’re looking at you, Blue Moon). 4.7% ABV. $4.50 pint, $6.50/23 oz. pour

Limestone Brewing Company, 12337 Rte. 59, Ste. 155, Plainfield; 815-577-1900, limestonebrewingcompany.com

 

Photograph: Anna Knott

 

Piece's Golden Arm, Haymarket's Mathias Imperial IPA, Half Acre's Over Ale, Finch's Cut Throat, Revolution's Bottom Up Wit, and Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale
(Clockwise from top left) Piece’s Golden Arm, Haymarket’s Mathias Imperial IPA, Half Acre’s Over Ale, Finch’s Cut Throat, Revolution’s Bottom Up Wit, and Flossmoor Station’s Pullman Brown Ale

FOR A TASTE OF THE FATHERLAND
Lucky Monk’s Fallen Angel Amber Lager

No dough for a pleasure cruise down the Danube? Don those lederhosen stashed in the back of your closet and swim in a river of Fallen Angel, a mild and toasty brewski cooked up German-style at this year-and-a-half-old suburban pub. 4.8% ABV. $6.95 pint, $60 five-gallon keg. The Lucky Monk, 105 Hollywood Blvd., South Barrington; 847-898-0500, theluckymonk.com

 

FOR A STELLAR STOUT
Lunar’s Total Eclipse Stout
(Click here for a sample tasting sheet for this beer)
Talk about once in a blue moon: Lunar’s longtime brewmaster left in January, leaving the brewpub scrambling to re-create his half-recorded recipes. We don’t know what Total Eclipse tasted like before, but the oatmeal stout we inhaled couldn’t have been better, hitting all the right cocoa and coffee notes with none of the bitterness or thinness that can derail the style. As of presstime, Lunar’s other year-rounder, Moondance IPA, was still in the fermenter, but we won’t need any convincing to revisit this charming bar. 6% ABV. $5.50 pint. Lunar Brewing Company, 54 E. St. Charles Rd., Villa Park; 630-530-2077

 

Related:

« BEST HOMETOWN BREWS
Check out the 36 best brews in Chicago

10 THINGS… »
Homebrewing and beer-drinking tips, plus our beer-making video and details on our beer release party

TOP BARS, GASTROPUBS, AND LIQUOR STORES »
Our 15 favorite places to find craft beer

BEER SCHOOLED »
A history of the Siebel Institute of Technology

WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE NOW? »
Four connoisseurs tell us what they’re drinking

THROWING A BEER TASTING PARTY »
Pros tell us how to pair beer with food

CCBW 2011 »
Check out pics from this year’s Chicago Craft Beer Week

Plus:
Download your own tasting sheet (PDF)

And vote in our poll to name Chicago’s signature summer brew on our Facebook page

FOR URBAN BIKE SNOBS
Metropolitan’s Flywheel

It’s a steamy Friday in July—no, August—and you’ve just cycled your ten-mile commute home from work. You’re sweaty and thirsty, so what do you do? Crack open a Flywheel, stat. With its grapefruit aroma and grassy zing, this revitalizing pilsner is the perfect reward for a hard-core pedal pusher but, unlike some watery alternatives, is by no means a pushover itself. 5.2% ABV. $9.79 six-pack.

FOR MOVIES ALFRESCO
Metropolitan’s Krankshaft

Lots of local breweries shy away from slow-fermenting lagers, but Metropolitan, in Ravenswood, rises to the challenge. We can’t say enough about Krankshaft: Each buttery, salty swallow reminds us of popcorn, which leaves us longing for another summer-in-Chicago favorite, the Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park. Then again, maybe this German-style kölsch will inspire us to start our own backyard cinema. First up? Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, of course. 5% ABV. $9.79 six-pack

Archer Liquors (5996 S. Archer Ave.; 773-582-4767) and other locations; metrobrewing.com

 

FOR THE SUBURBAN PROUD
Mickey Finn’s 847 Suburban Wheat Ale

Too bad Mickey decided its Amber was the ale to can. The brewpub’s other year-rounder is the sort of beer we’d carry to parties to please a majority of palates without sacrificing taste. This friendly revenge on Goose Island’s 312 is served so chilly you won’t taste the wheat until the beer warms up. Let it. Once you’ve fought for a seat at Mickey’s cutthroat bar, you’ll want to savor your victory. 4.28% ABV. $4.50 pint, $18 growler ($15 refill). Mickey Finn’s Brewery, 412 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville; 847-362-6688, mickeyfinnsbrewery.com

 

FOR HOLDING HUNGER PANGS AT BAY
Moonshine’s Able Danger

If happy-hour specials weren’t illegal in Chicago, we’d head to Moonshine after work and chug this IPA by the bucket. It’s got enough heft to sate growling tummies—but then again, why abstain? Able Danger’s assertive apricot and pepper notes will slice right through the tavern’s ooey-gooey four-cheese mac ($9), and with house drafts just $3 to $4 most nights, who needs happy hour? 6.9% ABV. $3–$5 pint, $16 growler ($12 refill). Moonshine, 1824 W. Division St.; 773-862-8686, moonshinechicago.com

 

FOR QUENCHING EPIC CRAVINGS
Piece’s Golden Arm

Too bad Piece wasn’t around in Nelson Algren’s day. We can imagine The Man with the Golden Arm author and onetime Wicker Park scenester putting away quarts of this kölsch, pale as watery sunlight the morning after a bender. Order two at a time and guzzle ice-cold. (Golden Arm is Piece’s only always-on option, but look for frequent cameos by Dark-n-Curvy Dunkelweizen, a.k.a. zucchini bread in a glass; smoky-as-a-charcuterie-platter Big Black Mariah; and clean-as-a-whistle Full Frontal Pale Ale.) 5% ABV. $5 pint, $16 growler ($12 refill). Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, 1927 W. North Ave.; 773-772-4422, piecechicago.com

 

FOR POOLSIDE LAPPING
Revolution’s Bottom Up Wit

This swimmer-blond witbier—a Belgian-style wheat—calls to mind cold dips and chlorine and long days in the sun. Crisp and invigorating, with a whiff of cilantro and a tangy kick, it’s a lifesaver for fans of Three Floyds’ blink-and-you’ll-miss-it seasonal Rabid Rabbit—and for those of us with no pool to lounge beside. We could drink it by the gallon. Dive in, the water’s fine. 5% ABV. $5 pint, $16 growler ($12 refill).

FOR FOUR-SEASON SATISFACTION
Revolution’s Eugene

God bless you, Revolution, for seeing the light: No way is a porter too rich for summer. When we want a velvety pint or three, calendar be damned, we turn to this inky beauty. For those who’d rather save dark beers for cooler weather, Eugene does wonders to help ease Chicago’s annual transition to arctic tundra. 6.8% ABV. $6 pint, $18 growler ($14 refill)

Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-227-2739, revbrew.com

 

Photograph: Anna Knott

 

Related:

« BEST HOMETOWN BREWS
Check out the 36 best brews in Chicago

10 THINGS… »
Homebrewing and beer-drinking tips, plus our beer-making video and details on our beer release party

TOP BARS, GASTROPUBS, AND LIQUOR STORES »
Our 15 favorite places to find craft beer

BEER SCHOOLED »
A history of the Siebel Institute of Technology

WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE NOW? »
Four connoisseurs tell us what they’re drinking

THROWING A BEER TASTING PARTY »
Pros tell us how to pair beer with food

CCBW 2011 »
Check out pics from this year’s Chicago Craft Beer Week

Plus:
Download your own tasting sheet (PDF)

And vote in our poll to name Chicago’s signature summer brew on our Facebook page

FOR HOPEFUL METEOROLOGISTS
Three Floyds’ Alpha King American Pale Ale

Picture April in Chicago: As new growth claws its way through the winter-hardened earth, an untimely flower punches you in the face. Down, hops, down. Warm weather is almost here. Hooray for this assertively botanic alpha brew, a welcome reminder of spring year-round. 6% ABV. $5 pint, $10 six-pack.

FOR A POSTGARDENING PINT
Three Floyds’ Dreadnaught Imperial IPA

We confess a bias for Three Floyds, but that’s because its brews all share a distinctive hops profile—earthy, tangy, natty—that’s so, well, Floydian. With Dreadnaught, those hops are practically fertilized: Think damp moss meets compost. 9.5% ABV. $5 pint, $30 growler

FOR THE FREEDOM FIGHTER, PART 1
Three Floyds’ Gumballhead

Back off, man. This six-pack is mine. Come July 3, we’re scouring the aisles at Whole Foods, praying this unusually hoppy wheat brew, the perfect summertime quencher, is in stock. Otherwise, there will be blood on Independence Day. 5.5% ABV. $5 pint, $12 growler

FOR THE FREEDOM FIGHTER, PART 2
Three Floyds’ Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale

Call us morbid, but this bready, muddy ale is perfect for savoring while watching a dreary historical epic, preferably one in which hordes of people perish in battle. Not every warrior is a hero (but Robert was), and not every Scottish ale will please hopheads (but this one will). 6.5% ABV. $5 pint

Three Floyds Brewpub, 9750 Indiana Pkwy., Munster, Ind.; 219-922-4425, 3floyds.com

 

FOR BONFIRE BOOZING
Two Brothers’ Cane and Ebel

The Ebel brothers’ “hopped up red rye ale” is meant for the campfire, with an aroma (sharp, sour, pitchy) brawny enough to permeate wood smoke. C&E is hoppy all right, but since it’s brewed with cane sugar, there’s an underlying sweetness—charred marshmallows, maybe—that makes for a bold but well-balanced sipper. Sort of like those campfire songs: bittersweet. 7% ABV. $6 pint, $15.98 growler ($11.99 refill).

FOR PRE-, DURING, AND POSTNUP
Two Brothers’ Long Haul Session Ale

Designed for those days when you intend to crack open a few (hence the term “session”), this relatively low-booze beer outperforms expectations. Nutty and savory with a tart twist, it’s subtle enough to win over picky drinkers. In fact, it would make a great choice for a wedding reception, both for its name—good luck, happy couple, on the long road ahead—and for keeping Uncle Gary from getting too drunk. 4.2% ABV. $6 pint, $160 half-barrel keg

FOR MODERN-DAY MARINERS
Two Brothers’ Resistance IPA

So named because its makers were hesitant to go whole hops—er, hog—and embrace the India pale ale (a style dating back to British colonialism, when bitter hops preserved beer for long voyages), Resistance leaves us asking, “Why the wait?” Where some IPAs are weedy and astringent, this brew is oak-aged for a crisp green-apple finish. The delicate nuances wouldn’t survive sea passage, but for a day of fishing on the lake? Jolly good. 6.9% ABV. $5 pint

Two Brothers Tap House, 30W315 Calumet Ave., Warrenville; 630-393-2337, twobrosbrew.com

 

FOR A HARD NIGHT’S DAY
Wild Onion’s CentenniAle American Blonde

After battling a night of insomnia, you need a serious pick-me-up. This golden ale’s aroma of fresh-squeezed orange juice gives way to a tanginess that hangs on the tongue and sweeps away lethargy like a stiff cup of java (or a hair of the dog). Voilà! Breakfast of champions. 5.2% ABV. $4.50 pint, $145 half-barrel keg. Onion Pub & Brewery, 22221 Pepper Rd., Lake Barrington; 847-381-7308, onionpub.com

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Four more beers we would amiably toss back again
 

ARGUS’S MCCAFFREY’S IRISH CREAM ALE
The father-and-son team behind the young brewery Argus, in Pullman, whips up a handful of private-label beers for suburban bars, including this lightly carbonated ale for the Ballydoyle pubs in Downers Grove, Aurora, and Bloomingdale. Can’t make the trek? Argus bottles its beers, too. (For now, at least, Argus also contract brews for the just-launched 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, whose recipes—overseen by the local beer guru Randy Mosher—include the sprightly 5 Lizard). 4.6% ABV. $8.99 six-pack at Binny’s (1720 N. Marcey St.; 312-664-4394); other locations at argusbrewery.com

HARRISON’S WHEAT
Those seeking relief from strip-mall shopping sprees can pop across La Grange Road for a pint of this balanced brew and a heaping helping of nachos piled on what seems to be a turkey platter. A smidge bolder than 312, this standard American wheat beer makes for an appeasing replenisher when served ice-cold. 5% ABV. $3.25 pint, $11 pitcher, $25 growler ($7 refill), $110 half-barrel keg. Harrison’s Restaurant & Brewery, 15845 S. La Grange Rd., Orland Park; 708-226-0100, harrisonsbrewpub.com

STOCKHOLM’S STATE ST. PILSNER
Some suburban brewpubs multitask as all-purpose banquet rooms/music venues/community centers—giant halls where you can drink and carouse with pretty much everyone in town—but this cozy tavern shines for its intimate bar and genial hospitality. The underlying sweetness native to all of Stockholm’s brews works best in this pilsner that, with its gingery aroma and hint of spiced apple, could pass for a mild cider. 6.3% ABV. $4 pint, $13 growler ($6 refill). Stockholm’s, 306 W. State St., Geneva; 630-208-7070, stockholmsbrewpub.com

TAYLOR’S DARK SATIN GERMAN DUNKEL
Although only its Raspberry Wheat and Rusty Dog Amber snagged the “signature” seal out of Taylor’s dozen or so regulars, we say the dunkel would be most deserving of the honor—if, that is, it weren’t brewed offsite by Minhas in Wisconsin. The mahogany lager brims with malty toffeeness: It’s sweet enough you won’t want seconds, but pair a pint with a slice of sharp Cheddar and voilà! Dessert is served. 5.2% ABV. $4.50 pint, $7/25 oz. pour, $13.99 growler ($9.99 refill). Taylor Brewing Company, 717 E. Butterfield Rd., Lombard; 630-990-8700, taylorbrewing.com
 

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