Illinois possesses a vibrant craft beer culture, featuring numerous breweries offering a diverse array of styles and flavors. Whether your preference is for a traditional American pale ale, a crisp wheat beer, or a robust imperial stout, Illinois has a multitude of options to satisfy your palate.
Wondering where to experience the finest local brews? Check out these Illinois towns renowned for their exceptional craft beer scenes, determined by the excellence, diversity, and popularity of their breweries and brewpubs.
Chicago not only stands as the largest and most populous city in Illinois but also boasts a home to some of the state’s most renowned and pioneering craft breweries.
From the trailblazing Goose Island Beer Company, celebrated for its innovation in barrel-aging and sour beers, to the critically acclaimed Revolution Brewing, offering a diverse range of hoppy, malty, and sessionable brews, Chicago caters to the preferences of every beer enthusiast.
Among the city’s other noteworthy breweries are Half Acre Beer Company, the first in Chicago to can its beer, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, the inaugural Latin American brewery in the USA, and Pipeworks Brewing Company, distinguished for its experimental and imaginative beer creations.
In addition to its vibrant brewery scene, Chicago plays host to numerous beer festivals and events throughout the year, including the Illinois Craft Beer Week, the Chicago Beer Festival, and the Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers.
Peoria, situated in central Illinois, boasts a rich brewing history dating back to the 19th century. Today, the city is home to a number of craft breweries that honor this tradition by producing high-quality beer infused with local character.
One standout brewery in Peoria is Thyme Kitchen and Craft Beer, a popular spot that seamlessly blends a gastropub with a brewery, offering a diverse array of seasonal brews.
Another noteworthy establishment is Obed and Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery, housed in a historic building that once served as both a church and a funeral home.
Obed and Isaac’s crafts a range of beers, from ales and lagers to stouts and porters, complemented by a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. Notably, Peoria hosts the annual Peoria Jaycees International Beer Festival, one of the oldest and largest beer festivals in Illinois.
Rockford, situated in northern Illinois, boasts a thriving craft beer scene, thanks to the dedicated efforts of passionate and skilled brewers.
Notably, Prairie Street Brewing Company stands out among Rockford’s breweries. Housed in a historic late 1800s brewery building, it offers a diverse range of beers, including classics like pilsners and IPAs, as well as specialties like sours and barrel-aged ales.
Another noteworthy player in Rockford’s brewing scene is Carlyle Brewing Company, the city’s first and only brewpub.
Specializing in European-style beers such as German lagers, Belgian ales, and English bitters, Carlyle Brewing Company complements its offerings with a food menu designed to pair seamlessly with the beers.
Adding to the city’s beer culture is the annual Screw City Beer Festival in Rockford, featuring over 40 breweries and 130 beers from Illinois and beyond. This event has become a highlight for beer enthusiasts, contributing to the city’s reputation as a vibrant hub for craft beer.
What Are Some of the Popular Beer Styles in Illinois?
In Illinois, popular beer styles include:
1. New England IPA: A hazy, juicy, and mildly bitter IPA with tropical and citrusy hop flavors. Examples from Illinois include Green Moss, Mikerphone Check 1, 2, and Beer Hates Astronauts.
2. American Imperial Stout: A dark, rich, and strong stout with flavors like roasted, chocolate, coffee, or caramel. Examples from Illinois are Bourbon County Brand Fourteen Stout, Benthic, and Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit.
3. Gose: A sour wheat beer brewed with salt and coriander, offering a tart, refreshing, and slightly salty taste. Examples from Illinois include Here Gose Nothin’, Blueberry Gose, and Gose Face Killah.