Breweries are as trendy as bacon, pervasive as irony and are launching in the suburbs as fast as podcasts by stand-up comedians. Chicago has fine breweries in Revolution Brewing and Lagunitas Brewing Company, just to name a couple, but when you want a day trip for a change of scenery and great craft beer, head to any of these nearby breweries so that your pint runneth over with pleasure.
3 Floyds Brewing Co.
9750 Indiana Parkway
Munster, IN 46321
3 Floyds Brewing Co. is what most other breweries aspire to be. This brewery corners an outsider hip atmosphere, excellent beer, witty branding and plainly exceptional vittles all served without snark or ironic pretension. The Munster, Indiana facility offers free tours on Saturday. The brewpub pulses with rock tunes and as chefs Pat Niebling and Scout Hughes dish up food that’s as entertaining and delicious as popular Floyds’ beers like Zombie Dust, Gumball Head and Permanent Funeral.
Figure Eight Brewing
150 Washington St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Call ahead for a free tour at Figure Eight Brewing that offers six year-round beers, over 30 seasonal recipes, a dozen beers on tap as well as a root beer that hasn’t tickled your nose this way since age 12. Have a grilled cheese on bread made from the brewery’s own spent grain. This is a college town and brewery, after all, so expect the requisite bacon dish as this one is on a stick and sticky from maple syrup and sprinkled with black pepper. Every Sunday the special is biscuits and gravy. The name refers to a knot used in sailing and rock climbing but all you need to know is that the beer tastes great, the staff is friendly, the food is yummy and downtown Valparaiso is fun to stroll.
613 S. 2nd St.
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Milwaukee has been the suds capital of the country as America’s largest brewers — Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz and Miller – brewed their fizzy yellow suds here since the 19th century. The other city on Lake Michigan has some fine upstart craft breweries, too, including the bold, intrepid and rakish Milwaukee Brewing Company. The 90-minute tour is tongue-in-cheek and beer sampling occurs at check in and after the tour including seasonal offerings, year-round staple flavors and some special stash. Located in the hip Walker’s Point neighborhood, the brewery is adjacent to Central Distillery for those who like the stronger spirits.
Rockford Brewing Company
200 Prairie St.
Rockford, IL 61107
The historic building that was the site of the original Rockford Brewing Company has been renovated and is bringing new life downtown on the Rock River. The tap room is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner serving poutine, fish and chips, fish tacos, wings, smoked egg salad sandwiches and more. “No matter if you like IPA’s or like a light crisp lager, we’ve got it. Our two most popular, Screw City Light (light lager) and our West Coast IPA are great examples of both styles,” VP Reed Sjostrom said. Rockford Brewing boasts a barrel aged program and two beer engines currently pouring a Belgian Quad on one of the faucets and an English Pub Ale on the other. A new outdoor dockside bar serves tap room options plus another 12 guest taps for other tasty craft brews. Dinner on the docks starts May 21 with live music every Thursday.
Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.