Chicago-World’s Greatest Beer Town
Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 26, 2008
I received an e-mail from Kevin Brown, a writer with the Ale Street News. I met Kevin a few months ago in St. Louis when we were enjoying the hospitality of St. Louis brewers at a beer dinner, the prelude to a long weekend of beer tastings and tours.
His latest article will be about great beer towns and Chicago, of course, has to be included…but why?
For a historian like myself, Chicago is still rich with beer and brewing history although old local brewing sites still fall to the wrecking ball on a regular basis. Chicago’s fading beer past, however, sets the greater Chicagoland area up for today’s diversified selection of beers from the U.S. and around the world.
I’ve often heard the criticism that Chicago still lags behind other big cities when it comes to local breweries. Chicago, however, is more than the city itself, and if you add the greater Chicagoland area to the mix, you can enjoy craft beers from dozens of brewpubs, three breweries (with one more coming soon online) and the biggest selections of U.S. and worldwide beers in our area liquor stores and retail outlets.
And you have to talk about the macros; A little more than a year ago, Pabst moved their headquarters to Woodridge, IL a Chicago suburb; Just a few weeks ago, MillerCoors announced that their new venture would be headquartered in Chicago.
Topping all of this off are old and well-established beer distributors such as Schamberger Bros., Inc, established in Chicago during the early days of Repeal, and Louis Glunz Beer Inc., a distributorship that first supplied Schlitz beer for the 1893 World’s Columbian Expo in Chicago. Along with niche distributors such as Stawski Distributing, which imports beers from Central Europe for our area’s Russian, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovakian population, plus the occasional beer or two from India and even Thailand, Chicago’s centralized location makes it a hot market for brewers and distributors.
The West Coast and the Northwest can maybe claim the greatest concentration of U.S. craft breweries, but when it comes to accessability to the greatest selection of craft, imported and macro beers, I can’t see how any other location can make the claim of being the greatest “Beer Town” in the world. That’s Chicago.