Consider This Your Suburban Beer Bar Bucket List

Photo courtesy of Crafted

We all know that Chicago has an international reputation as an enviable culinary destination. But along with our vibrant restaurant scene, Chicagoland’s quality beer shops and bars are a plentiful—and frankly taken-for-granted—sector of the hospitality landscape.

Of course, the suburban beer scene is just as active as the city itself, but things are more sprawled out in the burbs, so the beer shops become oases for seekers of craft beer culture. That makes them destination-worthy places where communities escape for beer experiences and education, or to pick up the latest hot release from one of our many local gems. Check out these shining stars of the suburban craft beer scene.

Photo courtesy of Beer on the Wall

Beer On the Wall
Bottle shops with tap handles aka “slashies” are probably the coolest thing to blossom out of the craft beer boom. Beer On the Wall puts an emphasis on local brews but also stocks a global selection for beer patrons. Located steps from the Park Ridge Metra stop, it’s the perfect detour for a curated draft pour, and it also gets down with the ground, serving Dark Matter coffee and tea from Lula Tea starting at 6 a.m. on weekdays.

This bottle shop demonstrates a true passion for craft beer with an excellent packaged selection and curated draft options. As its slogan suggests, “Every pour has a story.” Crafted is more than a store—it’s a venue for people to communicate about their passions. Enthusiasts can pay to get a Hoperatives membership for discounts, monthly free drafts, and merch.

Iron & Glass
In a random strip mall on Weber Road, you’ll find this well-curated bottle shop with 12 tap handles and ample seating. This is one of the places to discover that limited release, since small breweries who self-distribute (like Hop Butcher) often show preference (i.e., greater allotments) to independent bottle shops over big retailers, even Binny’s.

Photo courtesy of Iron & Glass/Facebook

Consume is a needed option in the Northwest suburbs for its curated draft beer selection, bountiful beer bottle shop, and delicious, seasonally fresh menu. I love walking into this  well-appointed restaurant in the burbs and discovering some of the rare draft options I would only expect in the city. The food is thoughtful, vegetarian friendly, and a welcome break from the ubiquitous chain restaurants that inevitably surround it.

Beer Cellar
Downtown Glen Ellyn’s quaintness gets an alcohol infusion with the addition of a curated beer retailer (ain’t no Bud in these coolers), with about 10 tap handles for those who like to sip on a beer while they contemplate their take-home beer purchase.

The Open Bottle
Located on the other side of I-80 from the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, Open Bottle is the perfect pregame spot for that notoriously stringent no-tailgating venue. An ample seating area with a bar, including eight rotating taps and high tops, welcomes you on the way in, and walls of beer options surround the place.

Photo courtesy of Beer Shop

Beer Shop
This downtown Oak Park shop, located directly across from the Metra stop, has a nice selection of packaged beer, for take-home or on-site consumption, and 16 tap handles pouring a lot of local favorites. There are coffee and pastries available on weekends, and they keep it fresh with a variety of events like DJ and trivia nights and author readings.

Plank Road
Located way up in northwestern Elgin, this BYOF craft beer bar feels like a mirage—a log cabin structure with a welcoming front porch on a large open lawn. Inside awaits a retreat for the craft beer seeker, with 15 rotating draft handles of local gems, as well as far-flung tried-and-trues.

Orange & Brew Bottle Shop and Tap Room
In December 2018, the residents of Downers Grove received a present in the form of Orange & Brew, featuring eight rotating taps. Fresh craft beer, and a lot of it, is something consumers are demanding in all kinds of drinking communities. The owners (they’re Illini alums) understand this demand and are there to guide people through hazy curiosities about hazy IPAs or whatever brew is piquing your interest.

Beermiscuous (Highwood)
Beermiscuous, the popular slashie based in Lincoln Park, started fooling around at a new location in north suburban Highwood last October. The same emphasis on wide-ranging options is at play: Sixteen rotating tap handles and 350-plus bottles/cans are in the coolers ready for on-site consumption or take-home purchase. Lots of lounge-y seating and board games complete the comfortable confines.