We’re here to help visiting
Clevelanders tourists find a good place for a beer in our fair city.
[Editor’s note: This piece was originally concieved for out-of-towners visiting for the 2016 World Series. As those games have passed, we’ve updated this to assist all baseball-minded beer-drinking Chicago visitors.]
Hello, Clevelanders. Welcome to Chicago. We’ve spent some time in your fair city, and even we documented our beer-drinking trip here — man, that Willoughby porter was good — so in return, we thought we’d kindly direct you to the places to spend your drinking money if you’re here with the intent of watching some
World Series baseball baseball at any time during the season.
Some of you more local readers may be saying, how dare you assist these interlopers, here to cheer on the wrong team with their Major League references and their racially insensitive mascots. Don’t get me wrong, I hear you on that last point. As to the wrong team thing, I’m here as a White Sox fan and I have no dog in this hunt. I’ll be just fine with whoever wins (though it’d be nice if we could just get past this 108-years-ago thing and just have the Cubs be a normal team like everyone else).
And besides, everyone deserves a good beer or two when they come to Chicago, considering we named the city America’s Best Beer Town for Thrillist a couple of years ago.
So! We’re going to make some basic assumptions here. You
Clevelanders visitors from any locality are going to want to drink beer near Wrigley — no shortage of options there — and we’re going to guess you’re staying somewhere close to the Red Line, so we’re going to help you there too.
NOTE: Not all of our suggestions are for Chicago’s best representation of craft beer. Some of these are just good Chicago bars that you’ll be glad to have said you visited when you head back home to the suburbs or whatever likely-National-League city you hail from.
First: You should definitely bookmark our Chicago Craft Beer Map ASAP.
Now, let’s start with…
Your Recommended Wrigley-Centric Drinking Choices:
Here’s where you shouldn’t bother going: Any place that’s going to charge you $100 just to get in the door, or $250 for a seat, or $2000 for a couch, or really any place with goddamn bottle service. We’re all Rust Belt friends here — we assume that’s nothing you’re interested in anyways. But since it really does have to be said — don’t be a fool who’s parted with any amount of money just to get into a bar and stare at a TV. That’s madness, even to be close to the field.
Instead, drink at:
Sheffields: This bar doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit that it should in this city, being one of the founding beer bars on the scene going back to when we called ’em microbrews, Pete’s Wicked was still kicking and Bells was still having quality control issues. The BBQ is pretty good, the beer selection at their three different bars is excellent and represents a wonderful cross-section of the best Chicago has to offer, including many beers from Half Acre, Off Color, Maplewood and Temperance, to name a few.
If it’s still warm out, the beer garden is top-notch. Hell, even if it’s cold out, it’s still top-notch. (And far less crowded when it’s 45 degrees.) No cover.
The G-Man Tavern: Pretend you’re a local and proclaim loudly when you walk in that “I liked it better when this place was called the Gingerman!” The name doesn’t really matter, but if you want a decent selection of good beer within sight lines of the park, you can do no better. The layout is weird, the back room with the pool tables rules, the jukebox is good, and they finally take credit cards. They also shot part of The Color Of Money here.
I’ve been at the G-Man/Gingerman before Cubs games on beautiful sunny summer days and seen just three other patrons there, when other bars are lined up with undergrads looking to get blackout before sundown. You probably (certainly) won’t have the same luck during the Series, but you should know that moments like that can exist near Wrigley Field. Also, no cover.
The Wrigleyville North: There once was a marvelous honky-tonk dive about a mile north of Wrigley on Clark Street called Carol’s. (“Once” was really just a few weeks ago.) Now that they’re shuttered, the Wrigleyville North is basically the only semi-country dive that the North Side has anymore, and it’s really a Cubs-centric sports bar that also has a country band from time to time. Everyone else seems to forget they exist, except for me and anyone else who’s lived near the Sheridan Red Line Stop.
They don’t have a website, a Beermenus site or a Twitter account, and their last Facebook post is from 2013 asking if anyone wants to take the page over. Old Styles are reasonably priced which is really all you need to know, and it’s just a few minutes of a stumble away from the ballpark.
Uncommon Ground / Green Star Brewing: The closest actual brewery to Wrigley Field, the beers at Uncommon Ground are all organic and can be pretty interesting — I’ve had a pretty good berry-infused Kölsch from here, for example. If you’re looking for the freshest beer you can get, this is your best bet near Wrigley, but to be fair, the turnover of High Life and Old Style is pretty quick everywhere else, too.
Holiday Club: The whole retro-lounge swing-dance vibe makes it feel very 1998 in here, but still, the beer is decent, and it’s both far enough removed from the Wrigley insanity and still close enough to hike to quickly. (Technically, this is in Buena Park or Uptown, depending on what your realtor is trying to sell you.)
The L&L Tavern: A bit further south of the park but still well within walking distance is the L&L Tavern at Belmont & Clark. You’d never believe it now, but this intersection used to be scary, with weird Lakeview punks wandering around the Alley and Egor’s Dungeon and Taboo Tabou and the Punkin’ Donuts. Now you can get a bahn mi and a $7 cup of coffee and shoes from DSW. Some call it progress. Anyways, the L&L has survived the neighborhood’s transition away from gutter punk to yuppie Big 10 School transplant…for now.
Believe it or not, you can get a decent beer at the L&L, as long as it comes in a bottle or a can — no draft lines and no soda guns here, because someone would have to clean those things if they had ’em and no one’s got time for that. PBR is their specialty here, cold and cheap, though I personally like the fact that you can also reliably get a Busch Light in a can.
The Nisei Lounge: Another quintessential Wrigleyville dive and the oldest in the ‘hood, in business since the early 50’s. If you have to pick a place in the city to drink Malort, this should be at or near the top of your list. What’s Malort, you ask? Well, you could Google it…or you could just go to Nisei and have the bartender force a shot on you. Trust us. Otherwise, Old Style is as always your friend.
This completes our brief tour of places we can vouch for in terms of quality beer drinking and the drinking of quality beer. There are many, many other places to enjoy fermented malt beverages around the ballpark; your mileage may vary.
Your El-Friendly Drinking Spots Near the Red Line:
From the near South Loop all the way up to Andersonville, we’ve got a few thoughts on where you can head before or after a game. Again, we’re making assumptions here — our guess is that anyone reading this from out-of-town has a hotel in the Loop, River North or near Michigan Avenue, so all of y’all are within a quick walk from any of a half-dozen Red Line stops.
We’ll do this in order from South to North, starting with:
The Roosevelt Stop:
Down Roosevelt and around the corner on Michigan Avenue is Vice District, which is a cool little taproom and brewing setup that feels like a neighborhood bar complete with board games and takeout menus. They’ve got a reliable rotating array of decent beers, including a black IPA that is pretty good, especially as it’s hard to find a black IPA reliably anymore. Also, I like that they call it a Cascadian Dark Ale, which sounds much more exotic than a black IPA.
If you’re feeling energetic, you can hike (or more likely Uber) down to Motor Row Brewing, which isn’t anywhere near a Red Line stop, but we felt like including it anyways.
The Harrison Stop:
Kasey’s has been a Printer’s Row tavern for about a century now, so they’re doing something right. They’ve got a good selection of draft and bottled beer, but if your taste is set on something more exotic, the nearby Villains has a very good 40-handle tap list (usually with some super interesting import selections and weird small batch stuff you rarely see elsewhere) and well-above-average cuisine. Right in the middle of those two is First Draft — they’ve got a huge number of draft beers and decent bar food as well. Pretty much all you need to know.
Jackson — Monroe — Lake
Not much, but if you’re stuck in the Loop, you can do far worse than Monk’s Cafe.
The Grand & State Stop:
Just after you get out of the Loop, the Rock Bottom right by the Grand stop is a fine, if relatively bland, place to get a beer brewed in the heart of River North. Eataly’s brewery is also all right, and they have a reliable selection of Half Acre, Revolution and Three Floyds beers behind the bar there as well. If you want a truly impressive array of taphandles, Howell’s & Hood over on Michigan Avenue has about 360 of ’em split between their three bars (though the patio likely isn’t open at this point) and if you want one of the city’s best dives, you want a beer at Rossi’s — which has surprisingly decent beer selection, too.
Chicago & State:
You’re heading to Jake Melnicks for wings and beer, Clark Street Ale House for good beers with a vintage film-noir kind of vibe (and a great neon sign), and a little further west, Headquarters Beercade for good beers and pinball games.
Clark & Division:
I mean, I guess you could hike up to Old Town Pour House if you had to.
North & Clybourn:
It’s worth jumping off the El for a couple things here: Goose Island Clybourn and Binny’s Marcey Street location. Yes, Goose Clybourn is owned by A-B now and it’s a taproom, not a true brewpub any more, but they are still making beers and you should go pay homage to where the whole thing kicked off like three decades ago. The Binny’s Beverage Depot just a block away has one of the most impressive beer selections you’ve ever seen, and there’s a bar there too, which never hurts.
Only one reason to stop here: Local Option. Reliably named one of the best beer bars in the nation, it’s chock full of excellent tap handles, loud metal, creole-inspired cuisine (which I’ve never actually bothered to order but looks good when I see it) and a selection of their own house brews including their Outlawger pilsner, Mourning Wood red ale and Blood Ov the Kings pale wheat. It’s berzerker Viking attitude paired with a NOLA flair. Try and beat that.
Belmont & Addison:
See the beginning of this post, duh.
Wilson – Lawrence – Argyle:
There’s a lot to love about Uptown and Argyle street, but a great beer selection ain’t really one of ’em. Stay on the train til you get to…
The Berwyn Stop:
It’s a bit of a hike, but if you’re in Chicago, if you’re interested in beer, if you’re on the El and you don’t make a trip to the Hopleaf, then you’ve committed a cardinal sin of beer drinking and should be excommunicated from your Untappd and BeerAdvocate accounts accordingly.
There you go. I hope we helped. Again, if you need some more direction, why not try our Chicago Craft Beer Map, which will take you all over the place, or just wander up and down Lincoln Avenue for an afternoon, since we’ve got a ton of great craft beer spots up and down that street (though we understand that Clark St. has its own specific gravity).
Any questions? You can find us on Twitter. Until then, enjoy the spectacle, be safe, and remember it’s just a game, so try not to riot. Also, please bring us back some of that Columbus IPA and Willoughby peanut butter porter next time you visit. Thanks.