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 West region has something to offer craft drinkers of all tastes and preferences. It’s home to the omnipresent, Goose Island, and the GABF winning Very Small Brewery of the Year, On Tour, as well as the massive contract house, Great Central–that is not only helping local breweries grow, but also producing some damn fine beers of its own. And if you like to eat while you drink, be sure to visit Piece, Cruz Blanca or Forbidden Root for some of the best brewpub fare the city has to offer. One might argue that the’ West Side is the Best Side.’

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:  NORTH  |  SOUTH


Goose Island Beer Co. (1) vs. All Rise Brewing Co. (16)

There is not a more polarizing brewery in the city than Goose Island, and they’re yet to make it past the second round in our bracket. With Bourbon County still living up to its reputation after all these years, and an explosion of new Goose Island brewpubs around the world, is this the year that GI lives up to its number one seed? Standing in the way is their West-West Loop neighbor, All Rise Brewing, a mere few blocks down Fulton Street. Sharing a home with The Cobra Lounge, they’ll do their best to bring the noise. 


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Revolution Brewing (2) vs. Finch Beer Co. (15)

With a growing army of ‘Heroes,’ and the expansion of the Deth’s Tar barrel-aged series, Revolution is ready for another strong showing in the tourney. Twenty-seventeen saw a year of benchmarks for Chicago faves, ‘Rev,’ and we’re guessing ’18 will be more of the same. Down in the newly-dubbed Brewing District, Finch Beer seems to have finally found its footing again. With a new home next to Goose Island and Great Central, and a taproom just about ready to open its doors, Finch looks ready to reestablish itself once again.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Pipeworks Brewing Co. (3) vs. Illuminated Brew Works (14)

Last year was more of the same for Pipeworks (in the best way possible), as they continued to push out a solid lineup of core cans and rack up the hardware with their limited releases and barrel-aged offerings. They finally opened their bottle shop ‘The Dojo,’ but it may be another year until we get the ‘PDubs’ brewpub. Meanwhile, Illuminated keeps a relatively low profile in their West Loop brewery. But their urban farmhouse brews speak volumes. Have you joined the cult?


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Maplewood Brewery & Distillery (4) vs. Great Central Brewing Co. (13)

It would be hard to argue that there was another Chicago brewery that had a more impressive year last year than Maplewood. With a drastic expansion of packaged beers, a GABF medal in their back pocket, and the long awaited opening of their lounge-meets-taproom, 2017 may just be a sign of things to come. Not to be overlooked is Chicago’s contract brewer, Great Central. While their main focus may be helping many of the city’s favorites take their production to the next level, GCBC opened a beautiful taproom showcasing their classic and flawlessly produced beers of their own.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Off Color Brewing (5) vs. Lake Effect Brewing Co. (12)

Off Color continues to impress with unique style beers—Russian Serf Stout and Gotlandsdricka—and now with the opening of taproom, The Mouse Trap, you have a one-stop shop for the full line-up of OCB brews, vintage bottles, and yes, High Life. They matchup with Northwest Side’s Lake Effect, with their impressive ‘Inland Seas Series’ inspired by the Great Lakes. Lake Effect is looking to have a big 2018 with plans of expanding into a new facility complete with taproom in a 1906 firehouse in Jefferson Park.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Forbidden Root (6) vs. Old Irving Brewing Co. (11)

When Forbidden Root opened their doors, the focus was on using botanicals to create some truly unique brews. Now the botanical brewers are garnering more attention for their impressive and trendy NEIPAs. Old Irving Brewing, is taking similar cues, highlighting its hazy pale ales alongside an impressive chef-inspired menu on the Northwest Side. Funnily enough, both are also currently battling for the title of USA Today’s 2018 Best Brewpub. An impressive menu on the taps, and in the kitchen.


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


On Tour Brewing Co. (7) vs. Piece Pizzeria & Brewery (10)

It is hard to top what On Tour did in year one, scooping up two medals and winning Very Small Brewery of the Year at GABF, for a West Town brewery that many Chicagoans had not even heard of yet. But, there are no signs of slowing down as they continue to crank out classic old world brews and equally impressive modern styles. Wicker Park’s Piece and their always intriguing (and award-winning) in-house-only beers need no introduction–especially to a city it’s called home long before most breweries in this bracket were even an idea. A battle of the hardware collectors…


Voting is closed, check back soon for results.


Cruz Blanca Cervecería (8) vs. Hopewell Brewing Co. (9)

Over on Randolph’s ‘Restaurant Row,’ Top Chef Master Rick Bayless and Brewmaster Jacob Sembrano continue to show they are a force to be reckoned with in the crowded Chicago market, showcasing a draft list full of beers inspired by the flavors of Mexico. Their Top 10 Best New Brewery nod, plus their head-turning new barrel-aged stouts, have been catching attention amongst beer nerds. Hopewell is entering year two and continues to bring it with fresh, clean brews from their beautifully minimalist taproom and brewery in Logan Square. They’ve done well themselves as of late, capturing back-to-back FoBAB medals for it’s barrel-aged saison. Look for this to be a close one…


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: