Football season is upon us and you know what that means, don’t you? If we weren’t so freakin’ beer happy all year round, we would call it beer season, because there really is no better way to cheer your team than with a pint or mug of your favorite local craft brew. All season we will be taking a look at the beer scenes in cities representing all 32 NFL teams — from local brewers to beer-centric bars to beer shops.
And if you’re not into sports but enjoy a quality imperial oatmeal stout (it’s OK, we’re not judging), then read on anyway to see how cities across the country are taking their suds more seriously than ever. Up first, the Chicago Bears. There is no city in the Midwest that takes their beer drinking more seriously.
WHAT TO DRINK
Goose Island’s Père Jacques: Hard to choose from Goose Island’s many award-winning brews, but this tawny-colored beer is brewmaster Brett Porter’s take on a Belgian-style Dubbel Abbey ale. It’s malty and fruity, and comes in an attractive 650-ml bottle, (almost) like a fine wine. gooseisland.com
Pipeworks’ Ninja vs. Unicorn: Attention hopheads. This cloudy (unfiltered) amber-hued double IPA is brewed with more than five pounds of hops per barrel. Redolent of pine with some caramel notes. pipeworksbrewing.net
Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter Pale Ale: No girl can resist flowers. Get your lady to watch the game with you by offering her this golden, aromatic, hoppy West Coast pale ale. It comes in a pretty tall boy covered in daisies. halfacrebeer.com
WHERE TO DRINK IN CHICAGO
Hopleaf Bar: A recent expansion at this 20-year-old craft beer mainstay grew the draft list to 65 taps and doubled the space. (There are also more than 300 bottle options.) Line your belly with moules and frites and Flemish stew. 5148 North Clark Street, 773-334-9851, hopleaf.com
Sheffield’s: The 50-strong draft selection here includes a good number of local beers, as well as other Midwestern options. There are regular featured brewery events and saucy barbecue platters and a smoking room if you need to christen the season with a cigar.3258 North Sheffield Avenue, 773-281-4989, sheffieldschicago.com
The Map Room: Welcome, beer geeks. This self-proclaimed “traveller’s tavern” provides the back issues of National Geographic, the 200-plus beer list and the certified cicerone (that’s a beer-tasting expert) on staff. It also offers beer classes for those who want to learn to drink like a pro. 1949 North Hoyne Avenue, 773-252-7636, maproom.com
The Bluebird: Originally billing itself a wine bar with a focus on biodynamic bottlings, the bar has blossomed into a beer geek’s haven with more than 100 bottles on the list, including several vintage beers. 1749 North Damen Avenue, 773-486-2473, bluebirdchicago.com
WHERE TO BUY
Binny’s Beverage Depot: This massive beer emporium with 28 locations throughout Illinois stocks some 1,600 different brands, with about a quarter of the inventory falling squarely into the craft brew category. It also sells everything else you might need to watch the game: wine, cheese, snacks and cigars. Multiple locations, binnys.com
Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar: Don’t be fooled by the tunes emanating from the back room. This beer bar with the über-extensive beer list (like, not far from 500 different brews) sells nearly everything to go from the front-room shop. 960 West 31st Street, 773-890-0588, community-bar.com
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