As many craft beer enthusiasts are well aware, there is a wide array of different Craft Beer Brands available. While most microbreweries only brew one type of beer, larger breweries such as Anheuser-Busch, breweries like Harpoon and Cigar Mountain offer an almost limitless selection. Depending on what type of beer you are interested in, you can either buy a brand for consumption on-site or get a case of your favorite microbrew to take home and enjoy at home. This article is intended as a quick introduction to the different types of beers available, what they are, and my personal opinions on each. Hopefully this will be useful to anyone considering making the plunge into microbrewery ownership.
There are three common types of craft beers; American Pale Ale, English Pale Ale, and Irish Red Ale. Within these styles of microbrews there is further division based on the ingredient utilized in creating the brew. Some main ingredients used are malts (golden malt, oats, or other grains), hops, and yeast. Many times an adjunct to the main ingredient of the beer will be added, including hops for that extra touch of hop flavor.
When discussing Craft Beer Brands I feel it is important to highlight the varied offerings of small breweries. Due to the fact that these small breweries often start with a blank slate, and are not dependent on a distributor, they can and will come up with creative ways to make their mark on the market. Two of my favorite craft beers from small breweries are Bell’s ESB and Widmerbier German Pale Ale.
If you are looking for a place where you can get quality brewpubs, there are more than enough brewpub options in Chicago. One of my favorite is Fat Jack’s brewpub and restaurant. Located at 35th and Wisconsin, just east of downtown Chicago, this brewpub has been gracing the area with great tasting and exciting new beers for over seven years. Along with the huge selection of beers, Fat Jack’s has also become known as one of the premier brewpubs in Chicago and is often mentioned as a drinking destination not just for tourists, but locals as well. Of course, not all brewpubs brew beer, but many do, and if you are looking for a place where you can taste some of Chicago’s finest brew, this is one of the best places to go.
Another great microbrewery to visit while in Chicago is Alta Bicycle Workshop. If you love biking and stopping at breweries, this is a great stop because they have microbrews to take home along with your tour of Chicago. Many of Alta Bicycle’s beers are award winners and can be found on tap at several bars throughout the greater Chicago area. Along with Alta Bicycle, there are many other great bike-friendly businesses in the city. One of my personal favorites is the Friends of Chicago Cyclists, which is a great organization dedicated to providing bicycling infrastructure throughout Chicago.
If you are looking for a great destination that not only offers a wide range of entertainment and food, but also a wide variety of beer, I recommend you consider taking a day trip to River North Craft Beer Company. This award winning brewery is located right in the heart of Chicago and offers tours of their facility, along with tastings of their brews. In addition to offering great tasting beers, they also serve lunch and dinner, so you can see why this is such a popular stop among tourists. River North is also one of only a few Chicago breweries that makes all of their products on site. Once you visit, you will want to come back.