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.
For many, it’s that time of year commonly referred to as “March Madness.” For many others, after a weekend of alma mater disappointments and busted office pool brackets, the NCAA tournament is already in the rear view mirror. So, we decided that in the spirit of the newly determined Sweet 16, that we here at The Hop Review would shift focus and conduct our own tournament, of sorts.
We’ve selected 16 breweries from around the city, and seeded them a (1), (2), (3) or (4) ranking, based on the following criteria:
– (1) Seeds are considered the city’s top beer producers
– (2) & (3) Seeds are breweries that are certainly pulling their weight, respectively.
– (4) Seeds are popular brewpubs
– All breweries included must have their own facility.
– (1), (2) & (3) seeds [non-brewpubs] must have packaged product available.
– Lastly, all breweries must very loosely fall into one of our 4 regions of the city: North, Northwest, West & South
There ya have it. We wanted to still enjoy some friendly March competition, so vote for your favorite breweries across Chicago, below, and we will tally the votes in order to select an “Elite 8” for next round. Voting for Round 1 concludes, Wednesday, 3/23 at 7 pm.
Half Acre Beer Co. (1) vs. DryHop Brewers (4)
Northcenter’s favorite maker of all things pale ale has been brewing since 2008 and recently expanded their own taproom (food, finally!), as well as exapnded to a new facility in Bowmanville (More Daisy Cutter!). Here, Half Acre takes on Lakeview’s popular DryHop brewpub – also makers of the hoppier stuff…and a damn good burger.
Winner HALF ACRE, with 80% of the votes!
Begyle Brewing Co. (2) vs. Ale Syndicate (3)
Chicago’s most neighborhood brewery, Begyle, sits in the shadow of the L and Metra in Northcenter, quietly brewing some of the best to-style beers in the city. They’re matched up against another fantastic, and true-to-style brewer, in Logan Square’s Ale Syndicate.
Winner BEGYLE, with 56% of the votes!
Revolution Brewing (1) vs. Piece Pizzeria & Brewery (4)
Formerly known solely as one of the city’s most accomplished brewpubs, Revolution has since grown into an Avondale space that has allowed them to become one of the country’s fastest growing breweries. It only seemed fitting that they get pitted against another stalwart brewpub, Piece. Wicker Park’s favorite pizza & beer makers have been satisfying famished Chicagoans since 2001.
Winner REVOLUTION, with 71% of the votes!
Spiteful Brewing (2) vs. Forbidden Root (3)
In this matchup, we see possibly Chicago’s hottest brewery–Northcenter’s Spiteful–battle the city’s shiniest new brewpub–East Village’s Forbidden Root. Aside from Spiteful’s recent expansion announcement (Bowmanville), they’ve also been collecting plenty of coveted hardware for some really intriguing ales (anyone at FoBAB?..). West Town’s Forbidden Root opened its doors after years of anticipation last month, to showcase it’s uniquely innovative botanic beers. Who can spice a beer better?…
Winner SPITEFUL, with 73% of the votes!
Goose Island Beer Co. (1) vs. Haymarket Pub & Brewery (4)
As Chicago’s grandfather of craft (since ’88), Goose is a brewer that needs no introduction. Their storied history has allowed them to brew plenty of popular wheat, mild and pale ales. Not to mention, some of the most coveted barrel-aged beers in the U.S. Fittingly, they’ll face FoBAB founder and former Illinois Craft Brewers Guild president, Pete Crowley’s, brewpub – West Loop’s cornerstone Haymarket. Battle of the barrel-agers…
Winner HAYMARKET, with 54% of the votes!
Metropolitan Brewing (2) vs. Off Color Brewing (3)
Why is Metropolitan in the West bracket, you ask? Well, their recent lease signing on a space near Rockwell & Barry seemed west enough for us. Here, the makers of old world German styles battles it out against another old world inspired brewery, Hermosa’s Off Color. What’ll ya have, a schwarzbier or a gose?
Winner OFF COLOR, with 69% of the votes!
Lagunitas Brewing (1) vs. Horse Thief Hollow Brewing Co. (4)
Enter South Side newbie, but American pale ale pioneer, Lagunitas Brewing. The Douglas Park behemoth isn’t without controversy. But no risk, no reward–as they’ve proven. They’ll take on relative darkhorse (pun intended), Horse Thief Hollow. The Beverly brewpub shouldn’t be overlooked however, they can count a GABF bronze medal and a World Beer Cup silver medal in their trophy case. Still, a true David verus Goliath in every sense…
Winner HORSE THIEF HOLLOW, with 57% of the votes!
Pipeworks Brewing Co. (2) vs. Marz Community Brewing (3)
Lastly, we pit two of Chicago’s most interesting and hype-worthy breweries against each other. Although not so South (hey, we tried hard to make this bracket work), West Side brewer, Pipeworks, dances to the beat of their own drum by making some of the weirdest one-off recipes (a syrup and waffle stout?), as well as the widespread Ninja vs. Unicorn. Their opponent, true South-Siders in Bridgeport’s Marz Community Brewing. Masters of the experiemental sour and odd ingredient (rooibos tea, soy sauce, yuzu…). These are two brewers with an approach uniquely their own.
Winner PIPEWORKS, with 66% of the votes!
Best of luck to these 16 breweries. It’s hard to pick a favorite Chicago brewer as we all now, but hey, here’s your chance. Stay tuned as we will tally the votes in order to select an “Elite 8” for next round.