It’s that time of year again, so eloquently referred to as “March Madness”: three weekends of alma mater disappointments, busted office pool brackets, and Cinderella stories. For 2018, we are back with 64 breweries from the city and surrounding ‘burbs. We have divided them into four regions: North, South, West and Suburbs, and seeded them 1–16. Seeds are not-so-scientifically-based on production, reputation, years of operation, and recent growth. The last two years have seen champions come from some of the least expected breweries; will this year produce another Cinderella story or will one of the top seeds finally raise a banner in our friendly, yet very competitive Readers’ Choice competition?

Chicago’s North Side is an embarrassment of brewing riches, from fanboy faves–Half Acre, Spiteful and Corridor–to some new region additions in Aleman, ERIS and Middle Brow. Toss in the state’s first certified organic brewer, some top-notch brewpubs and the country’s first Michelin Star brewery, and, well, Chicagoans have enough to realize how spoiled they truly are in the world of beer…

So, there ya have it, vote for your favorite breweries across Chicago, below, and we will tally the votes in order to select 32 winners for the next round. Voting for Round 1 concludes, Thursday, 3/15 at 9pm CST.

Vote for the other regions here:  SOUTH  |  WEST  |  SUBURBS

Half Acre Beer Co. (1) vs. Greenstar Brewing (16)

HABC has been a Chicago favorite for 10 years now, with last year commemorating the brewery’s second taproom opening in Bowmanville. Here, Half Acre takes on Lakeview’s favorite Wrigleyville brunch-joint-meets-brewery, Uncommon Ground’s Greenstar (Illinois’ first certified organic brewery). A true David vs. Goliath matchup on the North Side.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Metropolitan Brewing (2) vs. Aleman Brewing Co. (15)

Twenty-seventeen was a big year for the venerable Metropolitan Brewing, as they moved from their original space in Ravenswood to an expansive Avondale warehouse overlooking the river (our ’17 Best New Taproom). Finally having a public space has allowed ‘Metro’ some draft explorations of its lager-only lineup. They’ll face off with festival stalwarts, Aleman, from the Northwest Side, who has made a big packaging push as of late.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Begyle Brewing Co. (3) vs. Rock Bottom Brewery (14)

Malt Row’s Begyle has made impressive leaps over the last year, adding a bevvy of new beers to their menu–on draft and in cans–and has consistently packed their taproom, no matter the day of the week (not to mention the fanfare around their BA Imperial Pajamas stout release day…). Across town in River North, their Round 1 opponent is none other than one of Chicago’s first craft beer makers, chain brewpub behemoth, Rock Bottom Brewery. They’ve done nothing but quietly win medals at the World Beer Cup, GABF and FoBAB the last few years.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.

Spiteful Brewing (4) vs. Alarmist Brewing (13)

Last year, both Alarmist and Spiteful opened their doors to long-anticipated taprooms–in quieter neighborhoods Sauganash and Bowmanville, respectively. From sessionable pale ales to robust porters to impressive barrel-aged barleywines, Spiteful’s legion of fans know they’re getting some of the best and some of the freshest. They’ll line up against Alarmist, who has maintained a relatively quiet existence on the far North Side, since their days as ‘Panic Brewing’. However, with their cavernous new taproom and several classic styles in cans, that likely won’t be the case for much longer. 


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.

Dovetail Brewery (5) vs. Empirical Brewery (12)

Another pair from Malt Row battle it out in this 5 vs. 12 matchup. Dovetail is hot off a Top 10 finish in ‘USA Today’s 2017 Best New Breweries’, and recently released their first packaged beers, with their Flanders Rauch, X01. Twenty-eighteen hints at Dovetail’s long-anticipated lambic-style beers awaking from three years of rest (although, we’ll remain patient). Straight up Ravenswood Avenue sits their opponent, Empirical, who also had a banner ’17, with the opening of their second location–a brewpub in Rogers Park. 


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Corridor Brewery & Provisions (6) vs. ERIS Brewery & Cider House (11)

In the battle of brewery-names-with-ampersands, Corridor takes on newbie, ERIS. While the 6-seed here has had success inducing lines for their first canned beer releases for haze-bomb, SqueezeIt. Apart from their NEIPA hype, they’ve also managed to make soem of the best brewpub grub around. They’ll pit it out against fellow brewpubbers, ERIS, who finally opened their doors and draft lines this year in Old Irving Park after announcing their massive brewery-meets-cidery project a few years back.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


DryHop Brewers (7) vs. Gino’s Brewing Co. (10)

Another battle of brewpubs has Lakeview East’s DryHop square off with River North’s brewery inside a pizza chain, Gino’s (who, to their credit, renamed this location simply to ‘Gino’s Brewpub’ last year). DryHop is entering its fifth year as a neighborhood favorite while Gino’s has also been supplying its downtown ‘hood crowd with under-the-radar beers for a few years now. Both of these beer lineups still manage to not get enough credit, in our opinion, given the versatility in style and execution. Look out… 


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Middle Brow Beer Co. (8) vs. Band of Bohemia (9)

The final matchup is maybe the most intriguing. Hot off the announcement of their Armitage Ave. taproom (last week), Middle Brow has made the jump from suburban brewery to city brewery–and folks will quickly learn to welcome their quirky brewing styles if they haven’t already. Fittingly, they’ll take on fellow culinary and recipe-pioneering brewers, Ravenswood’s Michelin starred Band of Bohemia. A tough Round 1 battle…


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Best of luck to all 64 breweries. It’s hard to pick a favorite Chicago beer maker as we all know, but hey, here’s your chance. Stay tuned as we tally the votes in order to select a “Round of 32.” 

Vote for the other regions below: