Fields of corn and swathes of prairies compose the breadbasket in the middle of the United we’ve come to call the Midwest. But this “flyover country” offers more than just crops and cows to wave to from your airplane window seat. The Midwest is a hotbed of unique and elite breweries from a taproom trading exclusively in lagers and a brewery brewing up lesser-known styles of beer in Chicago to an IPA mammoth in Iowa and a dark horse lord in Indiana.

We teamed up with our friends at 2ndKitchen to bring you a list of our favorite breweries in the middle of the nation. Connecting taprooms with restaurants across the Midwest, 2ndKitchen helps breweries serve food without the hassle of a kitchen and offers tools to breweries such as how to create a brewery business plan. With their experience working with hundreds of the best breweries around, we asked them to help us choose which ones are at the top of their game. Here are our collaborative picks for our seven favorite breweries in the Midwest.

Off Color Brewing

1460 N Kingsbury St, Chicago, IL 60642 | (312) 929-2916

Odd-ball, weird, quirky, off-the-wall, and vibrant. All of these words could be used to describe Off Color Brewing in Chicago, IL. The brewery specializes in experimenting with unknown or lesser-known beers styles. Ever heard of Sahti or Chicha? One a historic Finnish style of beer and the other an ancient Peruvian beer-making method, are two examples of Off Color specialties. Brewing up beers that are…well a little off-color has put this unique brewery on the map. The brainchild of John Laffler and Dave Bleitner, Off Color has been pumping out off-the-beaten-path beers since 2013. With a steady rate of growth and success, Off Color opened their current Mousetrap taproom in 2017. Go for current specialty beers which include 15 Feet Applewood Smoked Wheat Beer, Fierce Weiss with a Napoleonic sour streak, or Sparkles Finds Some Trouble Hibiscus Gose. While you’re there order up a burger or pizza from the 2ndKitchen kiosk for a truly memorable food and beverage experience.

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3 Floyds Brewing Co.

9750 Indiana Pkwy, Munster, IN 46321 | (219) 922-3565

Creating “not normal beers”, 3 Floyds Brewing Co. has been producing off-the-wall hits since 1996. Considered one of the OG breweries not just in the Midwest, but also around the county we couldn’t create a list of the best breweries without mentioned these punky pioneers. From barrel-aged behemoths such as their Dark Lord variants to outstanding versions of the classics like their sought after Zombie Dust pale ale 3 Floyds is the kind of brewery whose spirit will never die. We expect this brewery to be one of the top taprooms for many years to come.

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Metropolitan Brewing

3057 N Rockwell St, Chicago, IL 60618 | (773) 754-0494

These days you’ll most likely find any member of the Hop Culture team ordering up a lager. To us, this deceptively hard style of beer to brew truly highlights a breweries’ capabilities. No one in the Midwest brews better pilsners, festbiers, and German-style lagers than the all-lager microbrewery, Metropolitan Brewing. After all, these folks focus full-time on executing these finicky, bottom-yeast-feeding, and cold-temperature-loving beers. Pair their flagship Krankshaft Kölsch-style beer or Flywheel Pilsner with an iconic burger from nearby Kuma’s Corner, which you can easily order through 2ndKitchen from the comfort of Metropolitan’s taproom.

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Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.

1600 Prosperity Rd, Decorah, IA 52101 | (563) 387-6700

Accolades and award-winning beers are the backbone of this decade-old brewery in Decorah, IA. World-renown for its IPAs and barrel-aged stouts, Toppling Goliath was named the second-best brewery in the world by Beeradvocate in 2015. Churning out big beers brewed in small batches, such as the Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout named the #1 Beer in the World by RateBear in 2015, TG is overwhelmingly one of the top-tier craft breweries in not just the Midwest, but the whole world.

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Castle Danger Brewery

17 7th St, Two Harbors, MN 55616 | (218) 834-5800

Located in a small town on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Castle Danger Brewery specializes in dangerously good ales. This is a destination brewery as much about embracing the experience of Minnesota’s North Shore as it is enjoying expertly crafted beer coming off of their 30-bbl brewing system. Castle Danger strives to capture the crash of the waves off the Great Lake, the outdoor adventure in the woods, the millions of stars seen in the sky, the time spent sitting by a campfire at the cabin, or the scenic drive all inside of a can. It’s rare that a brewery can truly emulate the iconic spirit of an entire state throughout all of its beers, but Castle Danger manages to deftly take the life (and crystal clear water) of Lake Superior and transform it into amazing beer.

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Hopewell Brewing Co.

2760 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 | (773) 698-6178

After opening in 2016 Hopewell Brewing Co. has quickly grown up to one of the most progressive breweries in Chicago, serving modern, clean beers to Windy City residents. Minimalism is key here where the light wood and white walls house groups of thirsty craft beer drinkers looking for a place to work, play board games, or just enjoy good friends and great beer. Hopewell’s eight-ounce can of Lil’ Buddy is the epitome of Millennial cultural capital, packing the most refreshing, flavorful Helles Lager into the cutest handheld package. You can also pair any of the nine beers on draft such as their Alley-Oop Dunkel Lager or Ya Filthy Animal Holiday Sour with local food delivered by partner 2ndKitchen.

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Speciation Artisan Ales

3721 Laramie Dr NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321

Leveraging nature’s creativity and diversity as inspiration, Speciation Artisan Ales in Comstock Park, MI takes an evolutionary approach to brewing. This family-owned brewery consistently experiments to stir up a plethora of beers, ciders, and even wines. Focusing on Michigan-grown ingredients, Speciation is a totally new breed of brewery, one that ferments and brews with nature as its guide. This approach lets yeast and bacteria take the steering wheel, allowing for funky and often breathtaking beers to take flight. Speciation’s outstanding program has consistently wowed us in the past with their Genetic Drift farmhouse ale (which made our list of the Top 5 Beers We Had This Week) with a gentle funk and beautiful honey notes to their Protoconsciousness Mezcal barrel-aged sour ale with grapefruit, lime, and salt (which landed on our list of The 5 Best Beers We Tried at GABF).

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