Chicago currently has more breweries than any other city in the U.S., with some 167 in the metro area. Most of these opened within just the past five years. And Chicago can lay claim to the world’s first Michelin-starred brewpub, Band of Bohemia. It stands more or less in the center of a corridor of commendable breweries, most of which also have taprooms. This section of Ravenswood Avenue, a light-industrial stretch on either side of some commuter rail tracks, doesn’t look fancy. But the quality of the beer is unimpeachable, and the taprooms are great fun.
These breweries are listed in geographic order from north to south.
Half Acre Beer Co.
In 2017, this brewery opened its second space, on Balmoral, just west of Ravenswood, with a taproom and a full restaurant. We sat at the bar, where a bartender provided cordial, if not especially helpful, service. When I expressed interest in ordering a flight, he produced a piece of paper on which he wanted us to write our selections, without offering to help us make our choices. Even so, I enjoyed all four beers we ordered, including the bright and zippy flagship Daisy Cutter pale ale, the citrusy and hoppy Fran saison, the fragrant and appealingly bitter Sailor’s Kush double IPA and a rich and strong barrel-aged Big Hugs imperial stout. In the summer, patrons can sit outside in the beer garden.