Discover the Best Breweries in Illinois for Craft Beer Enthusiasts

Welcome to the craft beer paradise that is Illinois! With a thriving beer scene, the Land of Lincoln offers countless opportunities for enthusiasts to explore and enjoy unique brews, innovative flavors, and exceptional food pairings.

In this journey through the state’s finest breweries, we’ll uncover new favorites, hidden gems, and must-visit destinations for beer aficionados.

So, grab your tasting glasses, and let’s get started on discovering the best breweries in Illinois!

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the vibrant craft beer scene in Illinois, ranging from hidden gems to pioneering breweries with innovative flavors.
  • Discover family-friendly and dog-friendly breweries that offer a range of craft beers, plus unique ambiance and history.
  • Keep an eye out for up-and coming brewers offering seasonal beers and special releases for new experiences.

Exploring Chicago’s Craft Beer Scene

Chicago is renowned for its bustling craft beer scene, boasting some of the most prominent Illinois breweries, such as:

  • Revolution Brewing, the largest craft brewery in Illinois, offers a diverse beer portfolio ranging from IPAs to stouts, catering to all tastes.
  • Half Acre Beer Company, recognized as Chicago’s first craft brewery to can its beer, is known for its flagship brew, Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, alongside a variety of seasonal offerings.
  • Goose Island Brewery, a well-known name in the craft beer industry, offers a wide range of beers, including their famous Bourbon County Stout.

One standout in the Windy City is Bent River Brewing Company , renowned for its Uncommon Stout, a delicious coffee-infused oatmeal stout that will leave you craving more.

Decatur Brew Works takes the experience up a notch with its Mug Club, offering loyal patrons exclusive benefits and discounts.

And for those who enjoy a bit of fun and games with their beer, Crystal Lake Brewing hosts trivia nights and even yoga and beer events, making for an unforgettable experience.

Mikerphone Brewing, inspired by music, offers a unique twist to traditional brewing with beers like the She Blends-A-Lot Imperial Stout, Jagged Little Pils, and the Barrel-Aged Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit.

Finally, Goose Island Brewery, known for its barrel aging program and sponsorship of over 60% of Chicago’s street festivals, is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking quality beer and a lively atmosphere.

With an extensive selection of breweries providing exclusive beers, experiences, and tasting rooms, Chicago is an ideal location for craft beer aficionados.

Southern Illinois Hidden Gems

Venturing beyond Chicago, Southern Illinois offers its own hidden gems with breweries like Carbondale Craft Brewing, Big Muddy Brewing, and Little Egypt Beer.

If you’re looking for unique brews and a cozy atmosphere, Carbondale Craft Brewing, home to the famed Little Egypt Beer, is certainly worth a visit.

Big Muddy Brewing, on the other hand, offers a delightful selection of craft beers, such as Winter Ale, Blueberry Blonde, Vanilla Stout, and the delicious Columbia Street Coffee Stout.

They also host an exciting Beer-B-Que Cook-Off, giving you a chance to enjoy some tasty barbecue while sipping on their award-winning brews.

And if you’re looking to explore the surrounding area, the nearby 17th Street BBQ, Carbondale, and Shawnee National Forest offer fantastic attractions to enjoy during your visit.

Little Egypt Beer, a standout in the Southern Illinois beer scene, is celebrated for its Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, which earned a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Fest. Make sure to have a taste of this award-winning brew while exploring the region’s hidden gems.

Unique Brews and Flavors

If you’re on the hunt for innovative flavors and unique brews, Illinois houses numerous pioneering breweries. White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery, for example, draws inspiration from Belgian farmhouse breweries and offers experimental beers like their coconut stout and two sour options.

Triptych Brewing, on the other hand, sources local ingredients for their award-winning craft beer, such as Pretty Nice Little Saturday (Midwest lager), and intriguing beverages like These Aren’t the Blueberries You’re Looking For, Tart Ale, and Endless Loop IPA.

Another innovative brewery is 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, the USA’s first Latin American brewery, which offers unique brews like the ancho chile-flavored 5 Vulture Oaxacan-style Dark Ale and the coffee-flavored Yodo Con Leche.

For those who appreciate farm-to-table ingredients, Wishful Acres Farm and Brewery grows its own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, offering a diverse selection of beer that incorporates these homegrown ingredients.

Additionally, the Blind Pig Brewery is a must-visit for craft beer enthusiasts.

Each of these innovative breweries showcases the creativity and passion for brewing that Illinois has to offer. From experimental flavors to locally sourced ingredients, these establishments are perfect for those seeking a unique and memorable craft beer experience.

Breweries with Great Food Pairings

A great beer is often best enjoyed with delicious food, and several Illinois breweries excel at providing exceptional food pairings. Old Herald Brewery & Distillery, for example, not only produces beer, rum, and gin, but also offers a diverse menu that complements their wide range of beverages.

Scratch Brewing Company, renowned for using local ingredients like elderberry, hickory, and maple sap in their beer, also offers a selection of mouth-watering dishes to enjoy alongside their unique brews.

The Flossmoor Station Brewing Company offers:

  • A restaurant and brewery with an extensive beer selection
  • A menu of hearty pub fare that has been carefully paired with specific beers
  • A patio area that provides a perfect setting to enjoy a delicious meal and a refreshing beer in a relaxed atmosphere.

These breweries enhance the craft beer experience by coupling their unique beers with exquisite food from food trucks in their tasting room, promising to leave you with a satisfied palate and memorable experiences.

Barrel-Aged and Belgian-Inspired Brews

Illinois also offers an impressive selection of barrel-aged and Belgian-inspired brews for those seeking refined, complex flavors.

Some notable breweries include:

  • Solemn Oath, known for their barrel-aged beers, such as the Heavyweight Ticklefight Champion of the World, which boasts a rich 12% Alcohol By Volume
  • Scorched Earth Brewing Company, specializing in barrel-aged and Belgian-inspired brews
  • Hailstorm Brewing, offering unique takes on traditional styles

Mikerphone Brewing, a music-inspired brewery, offers a range of intriguing beers like the She Blends-A-Lot Imperial Stout, Jagged Little Pils, and the Barrel-Aged Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit.

These brews showcase the creativity and dedication to quality that makes Illinois a premier destination for barrel-aged and Belgian-inspired beers.

Whether you’re a fan of the rich, complex flavors of barrel-aged beers or the refined, traditional notes of Belgian-inspired brews, Illinois has a diverse selection of breweries and beers to explore and enjoy.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Practices

Several Illinois breweries are committed to eco-friendly and sustainable practices, ensuring that their passion for beer goes hand in hand with a dedication to protecting the environment.

Metropolitan Brewing, for instance, specializes in German-style beers and lagers and incorporates sustainable practices into their daily operations, including the reuse and conservation of water during the brewing process.

Church Street Brewing Company, known for its award-winning craft beer selection, including the Heavenly Helles and the Brimstone IPA, also demonstrates a commitment to eco-friendly practices.

Some of the ways they do this include:

  • Using sustainable brewing practices
  • Recycling and reusing materials whenever possible
  • Minimizing water and energy usage
  • Supporting local farmers and using locally sourced ingredients
  • Implementing waste reduction strategies

In doing so, these breweries ensure that their passion for crafting exceptional beer is in harmony with their dedication to protecting the environment.

Craft beer enthusiasts can relish a guilt-free experience when they support breweries that prioritize eco-friendly and sustainable practices, as they can rest assured their favorite brews are produced with environmental consciousness.

Breweries with Unique Ambiance and History

Illinois is also home to several breweries with unique ambiance and rich histories, making for an unforgettable experience.

Two Brothers Brewing Company, founded by Jim and Jason Ebel, is known for its signature Domaine DuPage French country ale and gluten-free Prairie Path golden ale, as well as a captivating history.

DESTIHL Brewery offers a distinctive atmosphere and a wide range of beers, including year-round offerings like the World Beer Championship award-winning Black Angel American Stout and specialty releases like the Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Ales series, as well as the unique coconut stout beer.

Meanwhile, Iron Spike Brewing Company, housed in a historic train station, has recently expanded its statewide presence by introducing canning operations of its Flatback IPA and Light Rail cream ale.

A visit to these breweries, rich in unique ambiance and history, allows craft beer enthusiasts to savor not just exceptional beer but also an enchanting experience that offers a glimpse into Illinois’ rich brewing heritage.

Family-Friendly and Dog-Friendly Breweries

For those looking to enjoy craft beer with the entire family, including their four-legged friends, Illinois offers several family-friendly and dog-friendly breweries.

One such establishment is 4204 Main Street Brewing Company, where you can enjoy a range of craft classics, including:

  • Blonde ale
  • Chocolate stout
  • Saison
  • Multiple IPAs

All in a welcoming environment.

Temperance Beer Company is another great option for families and pet owners, offering a tap room with a variety of beers on tap, including:

  • Pale ales
  • Sours
  • The Gatecrasher IPA
  • Peach Saison

Both breweries provide a relaxed atmosphere where the whole family, including pets, can enjoy a day out exploring the world of craft beer.

With these family-friendly and dog-friendly breweries, everyone can join in on the fun and experience the diverse and exciting craft beer scene that Illinois has to offer.

Up-and-Coming Breweries to Watch

Illinois’ brewing scene continues to grow and evolve, with several up-and-coming breweries making their mark. Marz Community Brewing is an exciting small-batch artisanal beer brewery with popular brews like Jungle Boogie and What the Pho.

JT Walker’s Brewery, known for producing a variety of original beers and specialty collaborations, showcases the creativity and innovation that is driving the Illinois craft beer scene.

Excel Brewing Company, with its unique history dating back to the 1930s, brings West Coast style to the Land of Lincoln with their specialty beers, rich in hops and traditional German-style lagers that change with the seasons.

Their Flash Bang American Wheat Ale and Radler Grapefruit Wheat beer are just a few examples of the exciting brews Excel has to offer.

Craft beer enthusiasts can stay ahead of the curve and uncover new favorites ahead of the mainstream by keeping tabs on these burgeoning breweries.

Seasonal Beers and Special Releases

Illinois also offers a variety of seasonal beers and special releases for those seeking limited-edition brews.

Lagunitas Brewing Company, renowned for its IPAs and smooth ales like Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and Bourbon County Brand Stout, offers seasonal brews such as Cappuccino Stout, Censored (Kronik), Contents Under Fresher, and DogTown Pale Ale.

Pecatonica Beer Company, known for brewing small batches of beer inspired by the history of Midwest brewing, also offers a range of seasonal and limited-release beers for those seeking something truly special.

Their innovative brews showcase the creativity and passion that defines the Illinois craft beer scene.

Savoring these seasonal beers and special releases allows craft beer enthusiasts to discover new flavors and experiences, rendering their journey through Illinois’ breweries even more memorable.


From bustling Chicago to the hidden gems of Southern Illinois, the craft beer scene in the Land of Lincoln offers something for everyone.

With innovative flavors, unique brews, eco-friendly practices, and a rich brewing heritage, Illinois is truly a craft beer paradise.

So, whether you’re a seasoned beer aficionado or new to the world of craft beer, it’s time to raise a glass and embark on an unforgettable journey through the diverse and exciting breweries of Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many breweries in chicago?

There are over 160 breweries in Chicago, making it a craft beer capital of the country. It is home to both experimental microbreweries and well-known names in craft brewing.

Revolution Brewing, Half Acre Beer Company, Goose Island Brewery, Bent River Brewing Company, and Mikerphone Brewing are well-known breweries in Chicago.

Are there any eco-friendly breweries in Illinois?

Yes, Metropolitan Brewing and Church Street Brewing Company are eco-friendly breweries in Illinois.

Can I bring my dog to any breweries in Illinois?

Yes, you can bring your dog to 4204 Main Street Brewing Company and Temperance Beer Company in Illinois.

What are some up-and-coming breweries to watch in Illinois?

Marz Community Brewing, JT Walker’s Brewery, and Excel Brewing Company are all up-and-coming breweries to watch in Illinois.