Haymarket Hard Times American IPA
Haymarket Pub & Brewery continues to make an impressive case for being the IPA King of Chicago. I don't think I've ever seen fewer than three IPA variations on tap since they've opened, and each one is distinctly delicious. The Hard Times American IPA goes for the classic IPA flavor with strong citrus aromas and flavors, and has a solid malt character to balance it out.
Goose Island "Berliner Weisse" 312
At Goose Island's events, they always pull out some delicious limited-edition brew that you may never see again. As if a mini golf event in a barrel warehouse wasn't creative (and fun!) enough, it was paired with several unique brews including "Berliner Weisse" 312. This beer started out life as Goose Island's standard 312, but went through a lactobacillus and brettanomyces fermentation to bring out tart and rustic flavors. Not a traditionally Berliner Weisse, but delicious and refreshing.
Central Waters Illumination Double IPA
Rich malt flavors do nothing to hide the intense pine and grapefruit character of this Double IPA. The bitterness isn't overwhelming, but it does linger long after the glass is empty.
What kind of beer week would it be without the king of barrel aged stouts? I happened to be walking by the Map Room Tavern on a 95°F day as they were tapping this beer, and decided it was just the thing to quench my thirst. Coffee, chocolate, vanilla, oak and bourbon come together in perfect harmony in a glass of Founder's KBS.
Against the Grain Brewery Raucho Man Randy Beverage
With a name like Raucho Man Randy Beverage, you've got to try it, right? This brew came through with nutty and caramel malts and a lingering smoke flavor. If you're in the mood for an American made Rauchbier, this one is worth a try.
Local Option Kentucky Common
Local Option is a great craft beer bar in the middle of Lincoln Park that recently started brewing their own beer. An affinity for skulls in the decor and a sign stating "No specials EVER" lets you know they're serious about their business. Their revival of the old Kentucky Common style brings a surprising blend of tart and sweet malt flavor that makes me think of burnt chocolate cherries. Sour beer fans should seek out this gem.
Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
While not a Chicago brewery, Firestone Walker has done a great job in having a strong presence in the local market. When I had the chance to taste their newly released Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA, I couldn't pass it up. Velvet texture, spicy rye and an beautiful west-coast hop character makes this one of the best black IPAs I've ever had.