Craft beer is kind of a big deal in Chicago. But what if I said you can drink a craft beer just steps from a Tyrannosaurus Rex?
Originally, we had planned on mainly visiting breweries, beer bars and retail stores. But then we discovered something about Chicago that isn’t written about as much: Craft beer is everywhere!
So, we decided to just be tourists, to do all that tourists do in Chicago and see where we’d find craft beer on our travels.
Beer in airports isn’t unexpected. But for some reason, craft beer in Canadian airports is still a surprise. I can’t explain it, but independent craft beer in our airports remains an anomaly.
What we drank – Porter Airlines
- Steam Whistle Pilsner. I consider this a gateway craft beer. Steam Whistle has truly lived their slogan of “Do One Thing Really, Really Well”. As a very drinkable, yet flavourful, pilsner, Steam Whistle gives Budweiser, Coors and Molson drinkers a much better alternative. And the best part? Steam Whistle is free on Porter flights!
What we drank – Midway International Airport
- Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA. My reaction to this one was really unexpected. At 70 IBUs, this should have been a middle of the road beer for a malt lover like me. But the bitterness isn’t harsh. I can only describe it as a smooth bitterness.
Tourists in Chicago are spoiled for choice. It makes choosing difficult, but we went with The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum and Buckingham Fountain. Aside from the combined total of over 50,000 steps exploring these amazing attractions, we were shocked to find craft beer at all three!
What we drank – The Field Museum
- Tooth & Claw, brewed exclusively for The Field Museum by Off Color Brewing. This 4.8% ABV Czech-style pilsner is available on tap at The Field Bistro and as bottle singles (or six packs) in the museum gift shop. Pilsner lovers will enjoy it. Crisp, yellowish-pale colour and perfect for after walking nearly four hours.
- Cabinet of Curiosities, brewed exclusively for The Field Museum by Two Brothers Brewing Company. In this 6.5% ABV IPA, you get lots of coriander on the nose and a pleasant citrus flavour. The coriander comes out in the flavour too, but it’s subtle.
What we drank – The Art Institute of Chicago
At $6.00 a bottle, buying beer at The Art Institute can hardly be considered one of our budget friendly options!
- Metropolitan Brewing Krankshaft. With only 28 IBUs, this Kölsch style beer is very drinkable. Metropolitan says there is a lemony flavour, which I did pick up on. Feels like a lager as you drink it, and would be a perfect backyard summer beer.
- Goose Island Honkers Ale. Goose Island was THE craft brewery in Chicago until InBev bought it up. We bought it as an homage to the brand’s place in Chicago’s beer history, but we don’t knowingly review conglomerate beer.
The Public Space
The billowing grill smoke to the south of Buckingham Fountain, in Millennium Park, signals both hot dog deliciousness and refreshing craft beer!
What we drank – Buckingham Fountain
- 5 Rabbit Cerveceria 5 Vulture. A suggested food pairing for this Oaxacan-style dark ale is grilled or smoked meats, which made it the perfect beer with my Chicago-style hot dog. Dark in colour – amber, verging on a brown – it is sweet, smooth and a tiny bit spicy.
We loved finding beer in unexpected places. Craft beer in museums, art galleries and public gardens is a new concept to us. A concept we love!
Chicago is a craft beer paradise and we barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. In total, we tried 10 new breweries and 18 new beers; all without leaving the downtown. How amazing is that!?
Watch for our next posts about being first-time visitors in Chicago and how to do so on a budget!