Horse Thief Hollow
Horse Thief Hollow takes its name from 1850s Beverly—horse thieves would hide their embezzled equines in the woods there before bringing them to market. Neil Byers opened the brewpub in 2013, rehabbing a former carpet store and using reclaimed wood wherever possible. After spending eight years working as a chef in South Carolina, Byers wanted a place in his hometown “where people could come for hand crafted beer and flavorful cooking with a Southern accent.” Right now, you can find burnt brisket ends, burgers made from venison, and gumbo on the menu.
10426 S. Western Ave. Monday–Thursday, 11:30am–10pm; Friday–Saturday, 11:30am–midnight; Sunday, 11:30am–10pm. (773) 779-BREW. horsethiefbrewing.com
The Caretaker Scottish Ale 5% ABV
Appearance: Golden bronze goodness—think caramel, think butterscotch.
Label: We still dislike Horse Thief’s wanna-be western growler.
Smell: Surprisingly subdued, like an ale.
Taste: Sweet and caramel on the first taste, this brew is mellow and a little buttery, with a peaty, malty aftertaste.
Feel: Smooth, creamy, smooth as cream.
Overall: The first of Horse Thief’s spring release is well timed—this quiet, unassuming beer is exactly what you’d want for an April snowstorm, even if the moniker that ultimately comes to mind is Sleepy Hollow rather than Horse Thief Hollow.
Little Wing American Pilsner With Malted Barley 5.2% ABV
Appearance: Reminiscent of ginger ale, but cloudier, like a shandy.
Label: This whimsical can, featuring a girl riding a winged zebra and chasing a butterfly, is not what we would have designed, but should surely appeal to the horse girls out there.
Smell: A subtle citrus, wheaty and airy.
Taste: Very full-bodied, dry and clean and crisp, though not in a bad way. Not a lot of flavor aside from a finishing of lemon zest.
Feel: So soda-pop bubbly that we wouldn’t want to drink it out of a Pilsner glass—give those bubbles the long life they deserve.
Overall: This light and drinkable pilsner has an early afternoon, late spring/early summer feel—sitting on the porch watching fireflies, watching the kids running through the sprinkler, paying attention to nothing much…including, maybe, the beer itself.
A small Pilsen brewpub featuring twenty beers on tap from brewmaster Jason James and an eclectic menu from chef Darren Lim, Alulu offers a wide variety of flavors in both liquid and solid form.
2011 S. Laflin St. Wednesday–Thursday, 5pm; Friday–Sunday, 3pm; Monday, 5pm (special menu). (312) 600-9865. alulubrew.com
Goslar Locus Sour Gose With Passionfruit, Pink Himalayan Salt, Coriander 4.33% ABV
Appearance: Bright, golden straw, without much of a head.
Label: Sleek and geometric, featuring a snake overlaid on the outline of a bear and stylish lettering, Alulu’s growler makes us wonder what they’d do on an actual beer can.
Smell: Pink, fruity, perfumy, fragrant—like shampoo, really (tastes a little like it too).
Taste: It’s like a green apple jolly rancher in the way that a green apple jolly rancher doesn’t taste a thing like green apple—that is, tart to the back. A welcome salty, briny tang balances the first sweet taste, resolving into a very complex but balanced flavor profile.
Feel: lighter, not as vibrant or bubbly
Overall: Take this sunshiney/vinegar-sunshine beer in a small glass, or share it with friends at an afternoon picnic.
Malogaan Sky Belgian Dark Ale, Cognac Barrel–Aged Brewed with Cascara 12% ABV
Appearance: Pepsi…with a melted ice cube.
Label: The more you drink, the more you can change your mind over whether that illustration is of a bear or a wolf.
Smell: Whiskey, malty.
Taste: Jack Daniels took a cream soda out on a date for a slice of fruit cake. Once you know, you can taste the skin of a coffee cherry (cascara), with sweetness coming from the cognac.
Feel: Take this strong one slow—with a bit of a burn, it puts hair on your chest like any good whiskey would, but on the whole is pretty smooth for a twelve percent.
Overall: Pepsi look and slight taste aside, this intense beer’s meant for the end of the night, paired with a pub’s dimly lit corner and hushed conversation.
Moody Tongue describes their style as “culinary brewing.” Brewmaster Jared Rouben applies his culinary experience to making serious, experimental beers and food menus that alternate heavily between the sweet and salty: fresh oysters, German chocolate cake, sausage and cheese plates. Check out their taproom in a former glass factory in Pilsen, decorated with a white marble bar, leather chairs, and cozy fireplaces, to try their rotating drafts and snack on the rest of their rotating gastronomic fare.
2136 S. Peoria St. (312) 600-5111. Wednesday, 5pm–10pm; Thursday, 5pm–11pm; Friday, 5pm–midnight; Saturday, noon–midnight; Sunday, noon–9pm. moodytongue.com
Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison 6.3% ABV
Label: You’ve seen one Moody Tongue label, you’ve seen them all. Here, the yellow allows the simple, deft design to pop.
Appearance: Deep yellow. Looks like Martinelli’s.
Smell: Smells like Martinelli’s, too, with a sweet yeasty tinge. A little like the fish crumbs in the bottom of the bag of J&J’s Fish and Chicken, but maybe that’s just us.
Taste: Delivers upon its advertising: whether you think it’s like a lemon drop or lemon pith, anyone would agree it’s lemony, accompanied by some mild, warm spices.
Feel: Small, smooth bubbles burn your throat on the way down, but light and crushable.
Overall: A past Weekly favorite, this saison remains friendly as ever. Great for dinner, receptions, whatever’s up first in the evening.
Sliced Nectarine IPA 5.9% ABV
Appearance: Bourbon, apple juice, iced tea, maybe all together.
Label: We repeat: you’ve seen one Moody Tongue label, you’ve seen them all. (We wouldn’t say no to a redesign in time for next year’s beer review.)
Smell: This year we detect a definite fruity nectarine scent, along with definite hops.
Taste: Much more bitter than it smells—definitely an IPA, but fresh rather than skunky. Dry, without the sweetness you might expect, or want.
Feel: The carbonation fizzles out strikingly—and disappointingly—quickly.
Overall: The IPA for someone who doesn’t drink IPAs, this somewhat underwhelming beer would go well with spicy food like Rajun Cajun or Uncle Joe’s.
A self-described collective of “homebrewers, professional brewers and artists that found each other while drinking beers at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar,” Marz Community Brewing opened their own taproom in McKinley Park in February 2017. Recognizable for its quirky label art and experimental brews, Marz has deep roots in the Bridgeport community. Ed Marszewski, owner and president of the brewery, also runs the Co-Prosperity Sphere, an art gallery and home to Lumpen magazine and 105.5 FM WPLN Lumpen Radio. Ed’s brother, Mike, owns Maria’s—a great spot to try Marz’s newest offerings or pick up a bottle or two to go.
3630 S. Iron St. Tuesday–Thursday, noon–11pm; Friday–Saturday, noon–midnight; Sunday, noon–10pm. (773) 579-1935. marzbrewing.com
Cloudy Boyz New England IPA in collaboration with Collective Arts Brewing 7.77% ABV
Appearance: A mimosa-like gradient that almost matches the can; a beermosa, we guess.
Label: Marz used to wow with artful quirky-wallpaper labels; it only makes sense that it’s tracked the evolution of hipster aesthetics with hyperactive self-mocking labels that refer to noise shows and “art book fair after-parties.” We hate that we like it.
Smell: Dewy pineapple.
Taste: Dry and bitter, of course, but the notes of pineapple and passionfruit are there, too, and strong, making for an uplifting, well-rounded juiciness.
Feel: Swells in your mouth, making for an IPA that goes down easy.
Overall: Aside from being great for drinking conspicuously in public because it looks so much like a juice can, has the right vibes for a comics workshop at the Weekly, or for hanging out with foodie art kids pregaming for an event. We hate that we like it.
Whiner Beer has been brewing in The Plant—Back of the Yards’s favorite closed-loop farm and food and business incubator—since fall 2015, and its taproom has been an essential feature since 2016. Aside from promoting “environmentally responsible brewing” and playing a role in The Plant’s anaerobic digester, Whiner is the place to be if you’re in the mood for barrel-aged French and Belgian beers. The taproom makes smart use of its home, with plants nestled in its tables and wood-fired pizza you have to venture up a couple flights of stairs to Pleasant House Bakery’s space to order.
1400 W. 46th St. Wednesday–Friday, 4pm–11pm; Saturday, 12pm–11pm; Sunday, 1pm–8pm. whinerbeer.com
Save the Queen American Farmhouse Ale with Honey and Blackberries 6.9% ABV
Appearance: Cloudy, a little rosy, we’d even go so far as to say pretty.
Label: A huge teddy bear hot-air balloon spilling honey out of its mouth! Bee fighter planes! A duck releasing a cannon! A hot pink background! Somehow both lurid and chipper—Whiner at its Whinerest.
Smell: A little like candy—Red Vines, let’s say—and blackberry if you search for it.
Taste: Sour that sneaks up on you—at first it’s not sour, then it’s sour, then it’s really sour. Accompanied by the strange sense of having overeaten four pints of blackberries.
Feel: Very lingering. Lingered hard.
Overall: This sour-candy beer packs a punch. Share it alongside one of the Pleasant House vegan pizzas upstairs from Whiner’s taproom—you’ll probably only need to split a single bottle.
Coolship Sasha Fontaine Barrel-Fermented Raspberry Wild Ale 6.8% ABV
Appearance: Hazy, burnt orange.
Label: The Whiner cast of characters now features pink ’n’ purple monsters—makes us feel a little nervous about indoor swimming pools.
Smell: Sour-candy, again, with some fruitiness to it.
Taste: Less sour than Save the Queen, and the raspberry comes through strong to balance it out.
Feel: Smooth, slick, and airy.
Overall: Take this summery fruit-and-sour-cream ale to the Point after your second swim, drying off on the heat of the rocks.
Bubble Tub Kettle-Soured Saison Ale with Watermelons
Label: Classic Whiner, with the lovable critters and the lovable mustache.
Appearance: A little bit more of a head than Whiner’s other offerings.
Smell: As you might expect, there’s a little watermelon here.
Taste: This one takes us—okay, one of us—back to the 1970s. Anyone with a fake ID in 1980 was buying pink champale, the champagne-yeast-brewed beer in a can to have on hand while you were trying to sneak into a disco.
Feel: 1979 via 2019, sweet and friendly.
Overall: It’s 2019 and disco is over, but this family-friendly sour beer standby will still be welcome at any party.
This Morgan Park brewery—named, for some reason, for the strange sign language utilized by stock and futures traders on the trading floor—opened in 2017, and gives off what Weekly editors described as “strong pizza dad vibes.” Fitting, as owner John Brand, who lives in the area, told the Sun-Times in February his intention was to open a family-style restaurant and brewpub that would showcase his beers, which he began home-brewing fourteen years ago—and the fact that Open Outcry offers a pizza oven.
10934 S. Western Ave. Bar hours: 11am–11pm daily; kitchen hours: 11am–10pm daily. (773_ 629-6055. openoutcrybrewing.com
Speculator Cream Ale American Cream Ale 4.2% ABV
Label: Let’s just say these large brown-and-gold cans were meant for transport, not for ogling.
Appearance: Unexpectedly pretty, with the sheen of champagne.
Smell: Fresh, simple, lightly wheaty.
Taste: There’s a little wheaty sweetness here, but on the whole it’s—pretty boring.
Feel: Refreshing—drink it in midday when you don’t want to get a buzz.
Overall: All-American blandness: it’s what you drink while mowing the lawn, or at a baseball game, or, of course, alongside Open Outcry’s pizza.
Bang The Close New England Pale Ale 5.3% ABV
Label: Let’s just say these large brown-and-gold cans were meant for transport, not for ogling.
Appearance: True New England haze, with a good head—gotta appreciate that.
Smell: Sudsy laundry detergent. Oof.
Taste: Very wheaty, with a hop in the finish.
Feel: Like a PBR.
Overall: All-American blandness, but poolside. PBR’s fancy cousin from the city.
This Southwest Suburban brewery, which is expanding into a controversial Pilsen development called Mural Park in coming months, made headlines in 2015 when it stopped providing the Chicago Trump Tower with a custom beer in the wake of Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans in his presidential campaign launch (which subsequently became the subject of a short documentary). Named for an Aztec mythological character, 5 Rabbit says that it brews its beers with “píixan,” a Mayan word roughly translating to “free spirit.”
6398 W. 74th St., Bedford Park. Wednesday–Thursday, 4pm–10pm; Friday, 4pm–11pm; Saturday, 1pm–9pm. Tacos every Thursday starting 5:30pm, tamales every Saturday starting 1pm. (312) 895-9591. 5rabbitbrewery.com
5 Rabbit Cerveza Dorada American Blonde Ale 5.3% ABV
Label: Whimsical, folk tale–style illustration—the coloring on the zigzag rabbit and the tiny eagle is so pleasingly delicate that it makes the somewhat tacky, boisterous fonts all the more disappointing.
Smell: Definitely the skunkiest of them all.
Taste: Not so skunky as the smell—clean and balanced, with a subtle hint of lemon pith.
Feel: Full-bodied and rich—highly drinkable.
Overall: A sweetness comes through when you pair this golden ale with food—we like the idea of drinking it alongside a meal and a low-key activity: bowling alley brew.
Overall overall reflections: “I wouldn’t refuse any of these beers if someone gave them to me.”
Correction 7/31: Updated to accurately reflect the executive staff of Alulu Brewpub