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?

The South may have some of the most competitive matchups in this year’s bracket. Powerhouses like the massive Lagunitas and the small, but hugely popular, Marz will take on upstarts such as lesser known Lo Rez, Horse Thief Hollow, and Around The Bend. While these breweries may not have the name recognition of their South Side brothers, that has not proven to be an obstacle in the past when their fans come out to vote. Will a South Side minnow make a run this year or will size reign supreme?

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 9:00pm CST.

Vote for the other regions here:  NORTH   |  WEST


Lagunitas Brewing (1) vs. ALULU Brewpub (16)

Again a southern one seed for 2018, Lagunitas looks to move beyond their Final 4 exit from a year ago. Producing over half a million barrels a year, this would be a tough matchup for anyone. First up to the plate is newcomer ALULU, the Pilsen brewpub that opened less than a year ago. We’re betting many of our readers have yet to visit the tiny Blue Island Ave. spot, but that hasn’t prevented others from snatching the crown from Lagunitas in the past. Can another upset happen this early?


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.

Marz Community Brewing (2) vs. Argus Brewery (15)

Is there a hotter brewery in Chicagoland right now than Marz? With a stunning, sparkling new brewpub just opened in Bridgeport and a seemingly endless stream of creative cans adorning city shelves, the breweries perception has no doubt changed dramatically since their Sweet 16 exit last year. Up against them is Pullman’s Argus, an often overlooked but long standing stalwart of Chicago’s south side scene, and a staunch supporter of the larger style in the city.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.

Whiner Beer Co. (3) vs. Berghoff Beer (14)

In just a couple years, Whiner has built a reputation for something different. Whether that’s building their brewery and taproom in a perhaps Chicago’s greenest building, or brewing styles most wouldn’t dare, there’s no doubt something special happening in Back of the Yards. Facing off with them is the oldest of old-hat Chicago breweries. Berghoff has attempted to resurrect the near-dead legacy brand by combining tried-and-true recipes with the occasional creative venture. Will new or old take your vote?


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.

Moody Tongue Brewing Co. (4) vs. Open Outcry Brewing Co. (13)

Any brewery will tell you their beer goes with food, but no one takes it quite to the levels of culinary creativity as Moody Tongue. Their stunningly chic taproom is a beautiful place to sip through their lineup along with oysters and chocolate cake. Open Outcry meets the challenge here as one of Chicago’s newest brewpubs. The latest addition to the southside brewing scene kicked off with the help of OG beer bracket champion Horse Thief Hollow — an endorsment that can’t be ignored.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Horse Thief Hollow (5) vs. Motor Row Brewing (12)

Our original bracket champion, Horse Thief Hollow boasts a number of medal winning beers and a major neighborhood following that’s proven to be a force to be reckoned with in years past. They find themselves up against Michigan Ave’s Motor Row Brewing. While the larger-forward brewery has occasionally distributed cans, they remain largely unknown outside of beer circles. Which overlooked brewery will reign supreme in round one?


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Around the Bend Beer Co. (6) vs. Vice District Brewing Co. (11)

ATB has really hit its stride since moving from their doomed shared space in Logan Square. Pumping out a solid core of year-round cans and one-off releases, they’ve gained a following that few breweries of their size can match. Vice District looks to emulate that success in 2018 as they work toward their own suburban production facility. Until that time comes, the brewery must deal with it’s tiny Michigan Avenue taproom and the limited exposure afforded by such a small space.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Burnt City Brewing (7) vs. Baderbräu Brewing Co. (10)

Burnt City blew us all away in 2017’s brewery bracket, making it all the way to the championship before succumbing to the juggernaut Noon Whistle. Not too much has changed a year later as the brewery continues to distribute a wide range of cans and one-offs from their northside taproom. Baderbrau has quietly become a southside go-to, thanks largely to their 4000 square foot taproom overlooking the brewery and their easy going european inspired beers.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Lo Rez Brewing (8) vs. Haymarket Pub & Brewery (9)

Lo Rez opened their doors last year after a long wait for the Pilsen taproom. Their beer is increasingly available around town and the simple but comfortable taproom offers the chance to try what you can’t find at your local bar. But have enough people been exposed to their beer yet? That isn’t a problem for Haymarket as the long running West Loop brewery finally took the leap into distribution last year after opening their Michigan canning facility. New versus old — who prevails?


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: