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Chicago is experiencing quite the local beer boom, with more than 10 new breweries opening doors in 2014 alone. To keep up the pace, beer-focused bars are opening left and right to make sure the citizens of the Windy City are properly acquainted with all the new beers. 

Kaiser Tigher offers 24 taps with an emphasis on local brews, with Belgian and German options playing second fiddle.

Staff at Logan Square’s The Radler.

Chicago is experiencing quite the local beer boom, with more than 10 new breweries opening doors in 2014 alone. To keep up the pace, beer-focused bars are opening left and right to make sure the citizens of the Windy City are properly acquainted with all the new releases. Here are our favorite new bars to find the good local stuff.

1. Kaiser Tiger
This new West side beer mecca is big, bright and airy — and in a city where space comes at a premium, the 260-seat beer garden provides a huge draw during the summer months. Open since May, the bar boasts 24 taps with an emphasis on local brews, with Belgian and German options playing second fiddle. One of the major perks is that they offer different sized pours, so if you feel inclined to try two or three Oktoberfests this season instead of one, you can order five-ounce taste for a reasonable price. Throw that together with a menu of comfort food and a very strong list of encased meats (including the $70 whole bomb: five pounds of sausage, cracked pepper bacon and spices cooked for four hours on the pig roaster), and you’ve got a formula for a great lazy afternoon in the West Loop. 1415 West Randolph Street, kaisertiger.com

2. The Radler
Logan Square is brimming with new hip spots with good beer selections, but perhaps the best place for fresh brews on tap is Radler, the urban beer hall and modern German restaurant housed in an open warehouse-like space on the booming stretch of real estate on Milwaukee near Fullerton. The bar opened last December with 24 taps featuring mostly Chicago-based craft breweries and imports from Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. The food lands on the more upscale side of the beer hall spectrum, making it an ideal option for a fancy night out for craft beer enthusiasts. Also of note: they have an excellent aged beer program, with linear vintage lineups from many popular craft breweries available to try. 2375 North Milwaukee Avenue, dasradler.com

3. Beermiscuous
Less of a formal bar and more of a “beer café,” this Lakeview shop has all the trappings of a great coffee shop but with the added benefit of serving beer of all sorts and sizes. Think: comfy couches, nooks and crannies for good conversation, and an assortment of board games to boot. Beer can be purchased from one of the 12 taps behind the bar, or the front room’s refrigerated cases, which feature 350+ bottle and can options priced either to-go or for on-site consumption. An outstanding collection of local beers lines the shelves, as over 130 are from the Chicago area, and the full lineup showcases as least one option from every beer style at any given time to cater to a wide variety of drinkers. Open since June, the bar also hosts a monthly bottle share event for enthusiasts to gather and taste new and exotic findings. 2812 North Lincoln Avenue, beermiscuous.com

4. Links Taproom
Sausage and beer go hand-in-hand in the Windy City, and Links Taproom nails both needs with superb skill. Open since January, the Wicker Park joint boasts 36 beers on tap, with three beer engines for cask ale fans. The beer department organizes the menu via hierarchy, with local beers enjoying the biggest percentage of the tap lines, Midwestern brews coming in second and other American crafts filling in the remaining spots. A main appeal is their rotating firkin program, where the bar will send out vessels to local breweries to be returned brimming with exciting one-off experiments. We also like the fancy menu technology, which displays the entire tap list with handy stats like ABV, IBUs and more, and also shows how full or drained each keg is, if you’re into getting really nerdy about how fresh the beer will taste. 1559 North Milwaukee Avenue, linkstaproom.com

5. Xoco Wicker Park
The second outpost of Rick Bayless’ popular Mexican street food restaurant is larger than the downtown location and puts a new focus on craft beer as well. Patrons can sit at the bar and enjoy brews from 20 seasonal taps, including styles chosen specifically to pair with the Mexican cuisine. Bonus booze: local beers are also featured in house cocktails, like the Off Color Apricot Chelada Cocktail, made with Chicago’s Off Color Scurry, Mezcal Peloton de la Muerte, Giffard apricot liqueur, guajillo chile and fresh lime. 1471 North Milwaukee Avenue, rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco

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