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I'm taking a road trip to Chicago soon and am curious about a couple things:

What are the top two or three places (locations please) to buy good (or rare) craft beers and what breweries are usually represented in them?

I know you can purchase Three Floyds, Allagash, and Goose Island, but any other good ones so I can start making a list?

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I'm taking a road trip to Chicago soon and am curious about a couple things:

What are the top two or three places (locations please) to buy good (or rare) craft beers and what breweries are usually represented in them?

I know you can purchase Three Floyds, Allagash, and Goose Island, but any other good ones so I can start making a list?

BeerFly on beeradvocate.com is full of the type of information you are seeking. Whenever I go to Chicago, I generally shop at Binny's and Sam's, both of which have multiple locations.

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According to my boyfriend, who has gone to Chicago, some other breweries to look for are (in order):

Bells

Founders

Dark Horse

Tyranena (may or may not be available in Chicago)

Surly (may or may not be available in Chicago)

Great Lakes

Hoppin Frog

BrentKulman's suggestion to look on BeerAdvocate is a good idea (Ratebeer's "places" section isn't as good as BA's but here's the Chicago one anyway). The boyfriend said he's also been to Binny's and recommends it. He hasn't really gone anywhere else in Chicago, so he can't recommend any other places

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Let me add Kalamazoo, MI's Bell's Brewery to that list, if you're not able to get Bell's beers where you live; Bell's makes a lot of different stouts, all of which are spectacular. My favorite Bell's brew is their Two Hearted Ale.

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Let me add Kalamazoo, MI's Bell's Brewery to that list, if you're not able to get Bell's beers where you live; Bell's makes a lot of different stouts, all of which are spectacular.  My favorite Bell's brew is their Two Hearted Ale.

Yep, I can actually buy Bell's here. And thank god because I was able to buy two six-packs of the Hopslam when it came out. Also a really big fan of the Expedition Stout, which tastes exactly like Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout (minus the Bourbon). The Two Hearted Ale is also good -- you're right. Pound for pound, Bell's is one of the most solid breweries out there in my opinion.

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Sadly, you won't be able to buy Bell's in Chicago.  Unless the laws have changed, Bell's can't currently sell beer there.

I think you may be about six months out of date. Bell's had a dispute with its distrubutor a few years ago and pulled from the market. While I cannot recall whether they were back on the shelves the last time I was there, I do recall reading last summer that they planned to return to the market.

Anybody local know the current status?

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Anybody local know the current status?

Bell's various beers are currently available throughout Chicagoland.

If you need to find a convenient location for either Sam's or Binny's, you can find one on their websites:

Sam's

Binny's

Both chains have an extensive assortment of beers as well as hard liquor, but are best known for their wines. Their wines are viewable and searchable on their websites, too.

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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You can definitely find Bell's here, but you already have access to it, so what's the point?

I would agree with both Sam's and Binny's, though Binny's can be very hit or miss depending on what location you go to. Some Binny's have a huge assortment of micro's. Others have next to none. Personally, I go to the one in Naperville. It's an hour outside the city, but it just happens to be close to where I work.

Another place is West Lakeview Liquors (not too far from Wrigley). I've never been there, but I hear good things about their selection (though I also hear they are quite pricey).

Aside from the aforementioned, other breweries to look out for:

-2 Brothers

-New Holland

-Jolly Pumpkin (exceedingly difficult to find, but absolutely incredible beers)

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Sadly, you won't be able to buy Bell's in Chicago.  Unless the laws have changed, Bell's can't currently sell beer there.

I think you may be about six months out of date. Bell's had a dispute with its distrubutor a few years ago and pulled from the market. While I cannot recall whether they were back on the shelves the last time I was there, I do recall reading last summer that they planned to return to the market.

Anybody local know the current status?

Although I'm not a resident of Chicago, I'm a huge Bell's fan so people always keep me up to date with any Bell's related news. They did have a dispute with their Illinois distributor and due to a stupid Illinois law that protects beer distributors, they could not simply switch distributors. To circumvent this problem, Bells was selling beer in Illinois with a different distributor under a different name (Kalamazoo Brewery I think, which used to be the real name for the brand until they switched a few years ago to Bell's). Finally Bell's was able to return to the Illinois market since the distributor who previously had the rights to Bell's in Illinois left the state. So, yes, Bell's is available in Illinois.

In terms of beer, I don't think you can do better than Bell's in the entire Midwest. I think it's better than Goose Island, it's definitely better than Boulevard (KC area brewery) and I think it's better than New Belgium.

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Thank you everyone for the feedback - I'll hit Binny's and Sam's while I'm up there. I think ultimately I'm headed to Chicago looking for Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, and Allagash. I can get quite a bit of other great beers here in KC so I feel pretty fortunate. The only other strong brewery I'd like to find more of is Russian River, but I'll have to go to Colorado (I think) or (obviously) California. Does anyone know if you can find Lost Abbey in Chicago?

Edited by avant-garde (log)

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Thank you everyone for the feedback - I'll hit Binny's and Sam's while I'm up there. I think ultimately I'm headed to Chicago looking for Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, and Allagash.  I can get quite a bit of other great beers here in KC so I feel pretty fortunate.  The only other strong brewery I'd like to find more of is Russian River, but I'll have to go to Colorado (I think) or (obviously) California.  Does anyone know if you can find Lost Abbey in Chicago?

Did you know that you can buy Lost Abbey beers direct from the brewery by joining their Saints or Sinners clubs. It's not cheap and they only allow so many members into the clubs but it may be worth looking into.

Another good brewery that is available in Chicago is Southern Tier.

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Might I recommend that you pick up a few six-packs made by Founders Brewing Co. right here in Grand Rapids. Excellent stuff all around. The Dirty Bastard Ale is terrific; the Breakfast Stout is outrageous. Binny's and Sam's both carry the brand, but Binny's is $1.00-1.50 cheaper.

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I believe Three Floyd's is about 45 minutes driving. There's a thread on LTHForum, I think, about a trip to their brewpub (though I can't seem to access right now) with attendant site-seeing or eating if you're up for that.

I might suggest Flossmoor Station, a brewpub in a suburb south of Chicago that has some stuff bottled too and gets high marks from beer connoisseurs.

Jolly Pumpkin, I could always find that stuff at Uncorkit! in Streeterville, though it's been several years. It's an odd little shop, if it's still there (and it's right across from Fox & Obel if you're interested), it's not worth a special trip nor is the selection mindblowing, but they tended to keep a few unusual things around....like the Jolly Pumpkin. You can also get that in the KC area, by the way, at least on the Kansas side at the Mission Batson's (Bam Biere and Bam Noire have been stocked for a while).

For Binny's, I'd hit the Ivanhoe branch for the best beer selection. The south loop branch is good too, and they have a tasting bar to boot, usually with a couple interesting handles. There's a new local brewer called Metropolitan that I've heard encouraging things about, all lagers, I believe.

They also sell a lot of Lagunitas in Chicago, which I don't see around here...Brown Shugga is a terrific beer.

New Glarus is also worth seeking out, though I can't right now recall which are their standouts (though they're all good).

Edited by Aaron Deacon (log)
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  • 1 month later...
Drive north on I-94. Cross state line into Wisconsin. Find a liquor store. Buy Spotted Cow.

The Woodman's in Kenosha at Exit 344 of I-94 probably has it.

Ditto this. Spotted Cow is made by New Glarus - the brewery alluded to in a previous post. Sadly, they do not distribute outside of Wisconsin (can't keep up with demand according to a spokesperson).

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IMO, New Glarus is overated and I wouldn't be making the trip to Wisconsin for it.

However, Woodman's has a beer selection that rivals both Binny's and Sam's and you can purchase Stone in Wisconsin.

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  • 1 month later...
IMO, New Glarus is overated and I wouldn't be making the trip to Wisconsin for it.

However, Woodman's has a beer selection that rivals both Binny's and Sam's and you can purchase Stone in Wisconsin.

I like Spotted Cow, but agree that it is overrated. New Glarus makes a lot of different beers. Spotted Cow is the basic (but good) ale. Woodman's will likely have the full New Glarus line up (including seasonal and one-time creations). But, if you are going to Wisconsin, there are a few other excellent local beers that are not available out of state. I've liked every beer I've tried from Furthermore.

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IMO, New Glarus is overated and I wouldn't be making the trip to Wisconsin for it.

However, Woodman's has a beer selection that rivals both Binny's and Sam's and you can purchase Stone in Wisconsin.

I like Spotted Cow, but agree that it is overrated. New Glarus makes a lot of different beers. Spotted Cow is the basic (but good) ale. Woodman's will likely have the full New Glarus line up (including seasonal and one-time creations). But, if you are going to Wisconsin, there are a few other excellent local beers that are not available out of state. I've liked every beer I've tried from Furthermore.

Yes, NG makes several beers. I'm just not a fan of their work. Personally, in the Chicago area alone, I think Goose Island, FFF, 2Brothers, and Flossmoor all make superior brews. Just my opinion, though.

As for Furthermore, I've only had the opportunity to try one of their beers - Knot Stock - a pepper enhanced pale ale, which I thought was quite tasty.

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  • 1 year later...

The best Chicago-area beers to stock up on if you're in the area (and can't get them at home) are:

Goose Island

Bell's

Three Floyds (buy ALOT of this)

Half Acre

Two Brothers

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