Seven Chicago bars are on this year’s Craft Magazine list of the 100 Best Beer Bars in America. Last year, only five bars made the cut. Fountainhead and the Old Town Pour House are the two new entries.
Craft Magazine‘s criteria are bars with less than three locations and a passionate focus on beer. Check out the full list here.
BANGERS & LACE – Fueled by artisan sausages and the Wicker Park hipsters who down them en masse, this vintage-sparse beer bar’s libations are nothing if not thought-provoking: The 32 taps are obscure (Bourganel Biere Au Nougat, previews from newbie Solemn Oath), and the short but sweet bottle list wanders even further off the beaten path (think Sarasola Sagardoa cider from Spain). 1670 W. Division St.,bangersandlacechicago.com
FOUNTAINHEAD – Still a baby in Chicago’s beer-bar scene, this buzzing tavern wins over connoisseurs with a pedigreed beer director (he’s a Goose Island and Sheffield’s alum, as well as a Cicerone), a friendly rooftop garden and 200 globe-spanning, rotating beers. The beer’s topnotch, but the mood’s low-key. 1970 W. Montrose Ave., fountainheadchicago.com
LOCAL OPTION – If Lars Ulrich had a beer bar, it’d be this edgy Lincoln Park cavern. The rocker crowd’s a little surly, but they’ve got a soft spot for craft beer; 31 taps touch on Belgium’s De la Senne and the East Coast’s High & Mighty, plus a few seriously unsung house beers. 1102 W. Webster Ave., localoptionbier.com
MAP ROOM – Want to travel the globe for beer without the jet lag? Visit the great beer nations (Belgium, England, Germany, and the U.S. of A., of course) by pint glass with super-smart staffers as your translators and old National Geographics as your inspiration. You’ll never taste everything—the Cicerone who mans the beer list rotates the spigots often—but it can’t hurt to try. 1949 N. Hoyne Ave., maproom.com
MICHAEL & LOUISE’S HOPLEAF BAR – Even a new expansion that doubled its size (not to mention a visit from “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”) couldn’t squash the humble, neighborhoody vibe of this beer bar icon. The Belgian-leaning food menu’s grown, and with a slew of new taps, the beer list remains one of the world’s best. 5148 N. Clark St., hopleaf.com
OLD TOWN POUR HOUSE – More upscale and less neighborhoody than Chicago’s other beer bars but just as beer-heavy, Pour House boasts Cicerone-certified staffers slinging pints from 90-plus taps. The beer’s not your usual Chi-town stuff, either, with Cali’s Port Mongo IPA and Michigan’s Greenbush Distorter Porter pouring alongside Bottlenectar, the bar’s collaboration amber with nearby Two Bros. Brewing. 1419 N. Wells St.,oldtownpourhouse.com
SHEFFIELD’S – Real geeks may scoff at the loud Lakeview crowd, but four separate bars pouring the best in craft, a barbecue menu that stands on its own, and what remains one of the city’s best beer gardens keeps Sheffield’s at the top of the pile. No wonder it’s still a top stop for visiting breweries like Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada and Michigan’s Brewery Vivant. 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., sheffieldschicago.com