Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chicago Day 2

A much needed sleep-in meant a late start to out first full day in Chicago.  Our first stop was Taste of Chicago in Grant Park.  Other than the plethora of doughy, fried sugar coated foods, the more interesting fare on offer included caramel & cheese popcorn mix, pork filled banana dumpling, mustard fried catfish, mango cumin fries and frozen hibiscus leaf tea with whipped cream to name a few.  The only beers on offer were Stella, Heineken and Bud.  We needed to find a good bar fast!

We didnt realise the scale of our map and wound up walking through one of Chicago's toughest neighbourhoods, Cabrini Green.  Our destination was the Map Room, but on the way we found a cool neighbourhood bar in North Damen called Big Star, a converted auto garage with a beer garden out front.  The set-up was very similar to Apex bar in Portland, though the beer garden was more for table service only and drinkers were encouraged to sit at the bar.  Enjoying communal tables outside was clearly not part of the equation.  We drank the Lost Abbey Devotion, Lagunitas Pils and one final Green Flash West Coast IPA for our lost comrade, Tom whom we had left in New York.  It was interesting to note that of the 6 beers on tap, 4 were from the west coast. 

Our final destination for the day was the Map Room.  They had around 24 beers on tap and a hand pump (empty at the time).  Our contacts in both Chicago and Detroit and recommended this bar highly.  A long bar with nice high ceilings and a nice roomy area in the rear.  The taps were a nice spread of international and local brews and a good bottle selection (though our first 2 choices were unavailable).  We drank the Three Floyds Hop King, Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Kaimai Porter's Rye Ale (New Zealand) and the Daisy Cutter Pale Ale from local brewery Half Acre.

We were treated to a tour of the coolroom, keg room and the firkin cooler.

It was interesting to chat with Laura (Owner) and discover they have had similar issues with some designs of disposable kegs.  Better designs such as the Key Keg, developed in association with Weihenstephaner have helped brewers like Mikkeller and Brewdog reach markets further afield.  Some brewers we have met have mentioned informally that they are thinking of exporting using the Key Keg.  As this technology becomes more widely used, it will be interesting to see what new draught products arrive in Australia (and what potential there is for Aussie craft brewers to export).


  1. Hey, not sure if you have all your Map Room details in order. There's only about 24 taps and they don't really have any area outside for seating or drinking unless they opened that up within the past week. Laura is the owner, by the way. And she is one seriously cool bar owner.

    I can't believe you guys walked all the way from the taste to Big Star, that is just crazy! Hope you enjoyed Chicago, it's a great beer city!

  2. Thanks beerinator, your suggestions have been noted and our blog adjusted - Barney

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  4. Thanks very much!

    Just to let you know, this blog was a diary of only one beer tour of the U.S. We live in Australia. If you would want more info on the craft beer movement in america, start with the Brewers Association based in Boulder, CO and go from there. If you would like to see what we're up to, check out or check out goodbeerweek on Facebook and Twitter.