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Chicago’s Top Brews and Bites

Chicago’s beer scene is thriving, thanks to a growing number of local brewers and a bustling festival scene. We can’t wait for Beer Hoptacular (beerhoptacular.com), a knowledge-driven festival on Nov. 8-9 featuring more than 50 breweries and a bevy of seminars and demos. And while the festivals are fun, sometimes you just want to cozy up with friends at a local hangout and enjoy a few pints. Here’s a shortlist of some of our favorite hotspots offering unique brews and bites.

The interior of Public House

 

1. Dryhop
This craft brewery and kitchen offers shared plates with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. The hops-centric beer list curated by Brant Dubovick features a short but impressive selection. Try the Shirt Rides Shotgun, a collaboration between DryHop Brewers and Buckledown Brewing with Chinook and Cascade hops. All of their brews are available on draft or in 64- and 32-ounce growlers. Feeling famished? Order the Poutine (Belgian frites topped with with Broadbent’s hickory smoked bacon, aged cheddar, scallions and smoked country sausage gravy). Our mouths are already salvating! 3155 N. Broadway., 773.857.3155, dryhopchicago.com

2. Hopleaf
The more than 400 bottle selections and 64 drafts of beer alone is enough to attract us to this European tavern (and Andersonville institution). Add in the vintage beer posters, a pot-bellied stove and friendly staff, and we’ve set for the night. Go local with a goblet of Virtue’s Sidra de Nava ($8.50), a Spanish-style cider, or go Belgian with the Fin du monde ($6.50). This gastropub’s food is also award worthy. Try the heaping bowls of mussels ($13), steamed in your choice of Wittekerke white ale or white wine broth. 5148 N. Clark St., 773.334.9851, hopleaf.com

3. Public House
This 10,000-square-foot River North favorite is filled with neighborhood regulars, in-the-know tourists and industry folk looking for a post-work pint. The venue boasts 25 beers on tap, 12 “table tap” booths, six cicerones (aka beer sommeliers) on staff and a house brew designed and brewed by Goose Island ($7). Menu highlights include the Wagyu brisket sandwich ($16) and pickled vegetable tempura ($8). 400 N. State St., 312.265.1240, publichousechicago.com

4. Howells & Hood
This new American restaurant/bar hybrid in Tribune Tower is perfect for the experimental beer lover. Our pick? Finch’s Secret Stache ($4-$9), a full-bodied stout brewed with vanilla beans. The beer list wows, but it’s the grilled cheese sandwich ($12) that really steals the show. Feast on heirloom tomatoes, braised pork belly, butterkase and white cheddar, an over easy egg and smoked tomato veloute piled between two slices of brioche. 435 N. Michigan Ave., 312.262.5310, howellsandhood.com

5. Half Acre
Looking for local-brewed beers in an intimate setting? This traditional tap room offers only the beers produced at the brewery next door. The selections rotate quickly, meaning there’s something new for every visit. Current favorites on tap include the Lager Town Octoberfest and the Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. And while everyone’s heard of BYOB, this tap room is BYOF (Bring Your Own Food), with plenty of takeout menus for local restaurants behind the counter. 4257 N. Lincoln Ave., 773.248.4038, halfacrebeer.com