Bottoms Up

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Make some new friends on the Chicago Beer Experience, a walking tour of breweries in Chicago. (Photos courtesy of Chicago Beer Experience, Inc.)

Every city is known for three things: its sites, culture and food. These days, we can add a fourth to that list: beer. Some of the best brews around the world find a way to your fridge, but experiencing the best each state has to offer in person is the fun of it. In Chicago, the Chicago Beer Experience, Inc., is where it’s at and founder and president Bruce White knows just how to taste the city’s beer.

“Chicago is relatively new to the craft beer scene. Within the last 10 years, the city has seen an increase in breweries from 10 to more than 70 and that number jumps to 212 in the Chicago metro area,” said White. “The Chicago Beer Experience tour, which began in 2011, is great for tourists and for locals who just want to explore the bevy of brews their city has to offer.”

White said the walking tour takes groups of up to 20 people through three different neighborhoods of Chicago, sharing historical tidbits about Chicago through the lens of beer. There is the North Side tour, which takes the group to an Irish pub, a beer and bacon pub, a beer store that has the largest selection of local beer in the city and ends at a brewery bowling alley; the Wicker Park tour, which explores the neighborhood bars that have ties to gangsters, a local beer bar, a beer butcher shop space and ends at an arcade bar; and the Downtown tour, which focuses on Chicago’s sinful past: the brothels, gambling and gangsters. Said tour begins at an old bar with ties to Capone, the oldest bar in the city, a German bar, a blues club run by Buddy Guy and ends at a microbrewery.

“With the craft beer explosion hitting here in Chicago, we taste over 10 craft beers on the tours, talk about beer 101, the basics and different styles of beers. We take Chicago history and blend the two together,” said White, of the tour. ““We like to feature locally owned places that tell a great story if possible and a great selection of beer is also important.”

The Chicago Beer Experience tour is open year round and the beer selection is seasonally influenced. While White doesn’t give as many tours as he used to, there are nine tour guides who know their stuff.

“Chicago is my favorite city in the world and it has a combination of everything you need: it’s walkable, there’s a great casual food scene and excellent cultural institutions right on the water,” said White. “It’s an amazing city with friendly people that love to share it with others.”

For more information on the Chicago Beer Experience, Inc., visit www.chicagobeerexperience.com and follow along on Facebook and Instagram @chicagobeerexp.

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