The 62 Best Chicago Beers

Illustration by Jamie Ramsay

Watch your backs, Portland, Asheville, and San Diego. Chicago beer is having its moment. At last count, the region is now home to more than 60 microbreweries, nanobreweries, and brewpubs, from Lake Bluff to Lake View to Lansing, and they’re pumping out barrels in numbers that rival the city’s output during Prohibition. Some credit should go to Chicago’s roaring culinary scene—after all, those grassfed burgers and farm-to-table feasts wash down best with something local, right? What’s more, Illinois legislators are finally chucking those Old Styles and passing laws more favorable to craft brewers and distillers (praise be to SB 754!).

But it’s really you, the drinker, who should be thanked for this surge of foam. You’ve been flocking to brewery tours and buying local beers en masse—so Chicago decided to conduct the most comprehensive survey of the scene yet.

Pale Ale Smackdown

The popular pale ale is the style most open to interpretation— and thus the ideal test of a brewer’s talent. Here 18 recommended locals—nine American and nine India pale ales—faced off. Three winners emerged.

American Style / India Pale Ales

Bonus: Watch a video about the judging process

9 Other Great Styles

Drink From the Source

Use our map to find one of our 22 recommended microbreweries.

Have You Been Served?

Use our interactive checklist to  count how many of our 62 recommended beers you've tasted.

Show Your Love

Jamie Ramsay’s illustration of local beers is available as a wallpaper for your desktop. Download the size that best fits your screen size:

If You’re Scoring at Home

Host your own scoring party by downloading the scoring sheet that our judges used in the Pale Ale Smackdown.