A Howells & Hood flight | Courtesy of Howells & Hood
A quick look at the beer lists of Chicago’s best bars will demonstrate just how widespread and popular Belgian beer has become. So if you know your sours from your Saisons and your Tripels from your Trappists, these are the bars to check out.
Want a taste of Belgium in Chicago? Then Hopleaf should be top of your list. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, this north-side institution has an unrivaled selection of Belgian beers on draft and in bottles, as well as a Belgian-inspired food menu offering their famous mussels & frites. With no one under 21 admitted and not a TV in sight, it’s truly a haven for those who wish to savor a delicious beer in a quiet but friendly atmosphere. The staff really know their stuff, too, and regular events celebrate the best Belgian breweries.
Monk’s Pub in the Loop goes all out for the Belgian theme better than anywhere else in Chicago. Named for a monastery where the founder resided one summer as a young boy, the Trappist theme is featured in its old-timey wooden barrels, lanterns, and exposed bricks and beams. The beer list is certainly up to date, though, with the vast majority of the taps dedicated to Belgian styles, supported by an extensive bottle and can list.
This low-key neighborhood tavern is known for its carefully selected and extensive beer list and its amazing rooftop garden. To give you an idea of the beer options, the bottle list has three pages dedicated solely to Belgian and Belgian-style ales, featuring numerous Belgian IPAs, Stouts, Lambics, and Wild Ales, while there are always a number of Belgian options on the 26 taps. If you like your beer as golden as your weather, you know where to head in summer.
This travel-themed bar in Bucktown can certainly take you on a journey to Belgium. With 26 taps and an exhaustive bottle list, there’s always something new to try, whether it’s an authentic Belgian or something Belgian-inspired from the United States. They regularly host a Beer School, where you can try some exciting new brews and learn more about the brewing process, and the bar staff is more than capable of handing out an impromptu lesson. Alcohol is served from 11: a.m.
Behind the scenes at Howells & Hood | Courtesy of Howells & Hood
What could be more Belgian than fries and beer? Located inside the Chicago French Market, the beer selection here is small but satisfying, with several taps and a number of bottles. It’s certainly impressive enough to accompany a lunchtime snack.
Bar, American, Vegetarian, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
If you’re in need of a break from sightseeing on the Magnificent Mile, Howells & Hood may not seem like a beer lover’s place at first, but wait until you see the bar. With 119 taps, this is allegedly Chicago’s biggest list, and with so many taps, a great Belgian selection naturally follows. With a focus on offering locally brewed beers, this can be the place to find great Belgian styles from Chicago breweries.
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This gastropub on the Near North Side has just opened inside a stunningly refurbished 129-year-old building, and the signs are good for Belgian fans. It has two levels and 56 taps, with an exciting selection of Belgians and Wilds, and a decent bottle and can list. The chef has come from Hopleaf, and knows a thing or two about pairing food and beer.