By John Dodge

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — There has never been a better time to be a beer lover in Chicago.

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Right now, there are hundreds of breweries crafting unique beers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

According to statistics from 2012, there are 423 breweries in those states, including 83 in Illinois, which is more than double the number from eight years ago.

According to the Brewers Association there are more small, craft breweries now than ever in the United States.

Of course, the beer fan in your life doesn’t always have the time to pay a visit to their favorite pub.

That is why a six-pack of a good craft beer makes a great Christmas or party gift.

Half Acre

Half Acre Daisy Cutter

First started in a spare bedroom, this Lincoln Square brewery has been developing a loyal, local following for a few years now.

Their big seller is the Daisy Cutter pale ale. We also hear good things about their Pony pilsner. They offer about 20 seasonal selections and brew up several single-release varieties.

It’s nice that these brews come in pint-size cans. That’s the perfect single beer size.

Epic

Hopulent IPA

The Hopulent IPA is one of Epic Brewing’s offerings from the “Elevated Series”–essentially a limited release. Hopulent carries a healthy 8.9 percent alcohol by volume and its complex malts combine with plenty of hops flavor. However, it doesn’t have a strong bitter finish like many IPAs.

It’s not available in Illinois, but worth traveling over to Indiana to pick up a six-pack or two. Jeff Leetz, of Indiana Beverage distributors said it can be found it at: Liquor Stop , 9218 Indianapolis Blvd., Highland; Nicks Liquors, 6914 Indianapolis Blvd., Hammond; St. John Wine and Spirits, 9540 Poplar Lane., St. John, and Cask N Cellar, 2171 US HWY 41, Schererville.

Three Floyd’s

3 Floyds

Gumball Head (American wheat beer), Robert The Bruce (Scottish ale), Alpha King (American Pale Ale) are among this legendary Munster, Ind, brewer’s most popular.

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Visit the pub or check their twitter feed for beers available to go. Some of their products, like Alpha King and Robert The Bruce, are available at many liquor stores.

Two Brothers

Two Brothers

Jim and Jason Ebel started their family brewery in the 1990s, with Jim providing the business chops and Jason handling the brewing.

Highly rated brews, like the Domaine DuPage French Country Ale and Prairie Path Ale, are available at the Warrenville brewery, 30W315 Calumet Ave W. the Aurora restaurant, 205 N. Broadway; and several retailers.

Beer Geeks

Jason Owens -- Beer Geeks
When it comes to craft beers, sometimes it is hard to choose.

So why not give a gift certificate from Beer Geeks Pub?

Located at 3030 45th Street in Highland, Ind., Beer Geeks rotates 20 beers on tap. They also offer dozens of beers in bottles.

For those who prefer hard cider, there is a healthy list of those available as well.

Beer Geeks has a good, but limited, food menu, but owner Jason Owens doesn’t mind if customers bring in food from a nearby restaurant.

The pub also has a terrific live music lineup, including the Blues on Tuesday nights.

Call (219) 513 9795 to purchase a gift certificate.

Bells

Bells Beer

A sure sign of summer: When Bell’s Oberon hits the shelves.

This winter, drinkers who don’t like traditional heavy beers, might want to try the Winter While Ale.

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The Kalamazoo, Mich., brewer’s offerings are available in Chicago, including favorites like the Big Two-Hearted Ale, Amber Ale and Kalamazoo Stout.