This content was originally published by The Hop Review, a digital magazine that joined the Hop Culture family in March 2020.
This piece was written by Jack Muldowney.
Chicago Craft Crawl #8: Lincoln Avenue – Part 2
Lincoln Avenue is a 13 mile long tour through some of the most inviting neighborhoods Chicago has to offer. There is certainly no shortage of solid places to grab a beer. It’s also home to a whole lot of holes you don’t want to waste your time with. With so many options to sift through, we’ve split this Chicago Craft Crawl into two parts. In Part 1, we kicked things off in Lincoln Park, drinking our way north through some fine establishments as far north as George Street. But there’s a whole lot more to explore on the northern reaches of this bustling avenue. So, grab your nearest CTA bus or train and head to the intersection of Belmont and Lincoln for The Hop Review’s Chicago Craft Crawl v. VIII…
Crossing Belmont and Lincoln opens up an intimidatingly long list of options for the aspiring beer drinker. With the often college-student focused watering holes of Lincoln Park to the south, the average quality of bars north of Belmont on Lincoln increases dramatically. But where to go if craft beer is on the mind? With so many options and without a Lincoln bus to hop on and off (yet), walking from stop to stop is your best option. But that won’t be a problem as we’ve chosen a solid list of craft-centric pubs to make each stop worthwhile, all within easy walking distance of your last beer.
Northdown has long been a THR go-to for both food and drink. While the draft menu is a little shorter than others on this list, the quality is unmatched. You’ll find rare brews from around the world, some of them only available here. If you’ve somehow had all the drafts (which we doubt), flip over to the massive bottles and cans list and split a Belgian lambic or barrel-aged stout fromdown the street with your best bud. The beer possibilities are nearly endless here. And as this is the first stop on our lengthy Lincoln crawl, grab a burger to pair with that brew.
Our choice to get things started: 3 Floyds Yum Yum
3244 N. Lincoln Ave. – Lakeview
Just a few doors down from Northdown lies The Green Lady, one of the more underrated beer bars in the city. Featuring 30 taps, an impressive bottle list, and no kitchen, this place is all about the beer. We’ve always been met with friendly, knowledgeable service by the bar staff who are always willing to sample out a few beers before you make your choice. The low lighting, uber laid-back atmosphere, and dog-friendly policies make for a great place to throw back a few… if only this wasn’t the second stop on our CCC.
Our choice at the bar: Begyle Neighborly Stout on nitro
3328 N. Lincoln Ave. – Lakeview
3. BIG BRICKS
About a ten minute walk up Lincoln is the unassuming Big Bricks. Perhaps suffering from it’s low foot traffic, south of Irving location, no one every seems to talk about this place. We’re telling you, however, that there’s a quality beer list and great barbecue here. And did we mention every beer on the menu is $4 everyday? You won’t find the “whales” seen back at Northdown, but if you’re looking to pair quality, local beers with tasty food at a great price, we wouldn’t hesitate for a second to head here. If you didn’t eat back at Northdown, grab the truly awesome brisket sandwich.
Paired with barbeque: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (’13, ’14, or ’15)
3832 N. Lincoln Ave. – Northcenter
There are no shortage of Irish bars in Chicago and most of them aren’t very memorable. Mrs. Murphy & Sons is a refreshing change as the big, beautiful bar that dominates the center of this space serves as a fine for a midpoint slowdown of our CCC. This place couldn’t be more different from its sister bar, Wrigleyville’s own Murphy’s Bleachers. Definitely a place you’re going to want to come back for a dinner date, the beer list features a wide range of Midwest-centric brews, in addition to your typical Irish standbys.
Choose the house beer: Ale Syndicate’s Rua
3905 N. Lincoln Ave. – Northcenter
We’re unabashed fans of Half Acre and you’re likely to find a member of The Hop Review perched at the bar any day of the week. The recent addition of a full-service kitchen means it’s now even more difficult to snag a table at the diminutive taproom. But don’t let that get in the way of your Craft Crawl drinking, as it’s easy to grab a spot on the wall for a quick drink. Make sure you grab something that isn’t available outside the taproom — an easy task with the four new specialty taps, an always on nitro option, and beer engine.
Our beer at the brewery: Space IPA
4257 N. Lincoln Ave. – Northcenter
We don’t say this lightly when we say The Bad Apple might have the best beer menu in the city. The bottle menu requires a small book to house it, but the drafts are where they really shine. With some kegs so rare and fast moving you’re instructed to ask the server which one they have on, there’s always something new to try. To top it all off, the service here is unmatched with servers and bar staff who can speak to every beer they offer. Often overlooked as a restaurant only, the bar at The Bad Apple is one of the finest in Chicago. Oh, and come back for the burgers.
On their recommendation: Right Bee’s Dry Cider
4300 N. Lincoln Ave. – Northcenter
7. THE GRAFTON
Heading north to Lincoln Square, there are a plethora of places to grab a drink. The Grafton is our first stop as we head through the neighborhood. The dimly lit, unassuming bar packs a small, but impressive beer list that constantly changes. While table service has been known to suffer during the late night rush, it’s worth trying to grab a seat at the bar to talk beer with the well informed bartenders. This is yet another place where it’s worth paying another visit to try out the food.
Our choice at the bar: Revolution Anti-Hero
4530 N. Lincoln Ave. – Lincoln Square
Mash is one of those places that’s perfect for near the end of our Chicago Craft Crawl. With a long beer menu, largely consisting of stuff you’ve probably had before, but will almost definitely like, it’s easy to find something that suits your mood when eight stops deep into a Craft Crawl. We were peckish by this point, so we grabbed a few appetizers, all of them hitting the spot. We’d highly recommend the patio during the warmer months as it’s a great place to lose a few hours in the sun.
For the final stretch: Anderson Valley’s Blood Orange Gose
4535 N. Lincoln Ave. – Lincoln Square
Ok, if you’re still with us at the point, it’s likely you’re looking for something on the lighter side. The solid German selection at Huettenbar is a great way to finish off the night… or keep it going at one of the other stops listed below. The small, often crowded neighborhood bar has an “old (German) man” feel, but the traditional beer list is not to miss. We were a little thrown off by the mid-visit switch from traditional German tunes to modern club hits, but nine bars in, we’re betting you don’t mind. There may be better German bars in the area, but this is a great way to cap off a long Chicago Craft Crawl.
Finishing strong with Julius Echter Weiss from Würzburger Hofbräu
4721 N. Lincoln Ave. – Lincoln Square
Other stops to consider:
Bottles & Cans Beer Shop
The Northman (opens March 8)
Gene’s Sausage Rooftop
Check out Lincoln Ave., Pt. 1 CCC
For Part 1 of our Lincoln Ave. tour, we focus on a wealthy stretch of drinking options that lie within Lincoln Park and Lakeview. From our first stops near Old Town and the DePaul communities, to our northwestern jaunt towards the beginning of Lakeview, the avenue offers plenty of options and much in the way of variety from dives to brewpubs to cocktail lounges.
Photography by Jack Muldowney.