By Joshua Riley
The Brew Dude On Tour rolls on to another few stops to visit every taproom in Chicagoland. This one took two trips to complete because I didn’t check to see if the three breweries I visited were open the same days.
I think this short trip is one of the pound-for-pound best groupings of breweries outside of the Ravenswood “Malt Row,” Chicago Brewing District or the Milwaukee Avenue collective of breweries in Chicago.
I hadn’t had much from Blue Nose Brewery outside of a few samples at fests such as Naperville Ale Fest, so I didn’t know what to expect from them.
I’ve had everything in cans and on draft from Buckledown Brewery and 5 Rabbit numerous times. I will grab anything new these breweries come out with. I just recommended a 5 Rabbit beer at Lake Shake — it was the first craft beer I went for at that festival, and I’m glad I did.
The first stop on the list is Buckledown Brewing, which started a theme for the trip of these breweries being slightly hard to find. Buckledown Brewing isn’t itself in an industrial space, but I have been to enough of these breweries at this point (112 in Chicagoland alone) that when I drove down 47th Street in suburban Lyons and saw the huge industrial spaces across the street, I automatically assumed the brewery was tucked in there.
Their logo and name are emblazoned on a garage door of a small, brick operation, which seemed hard to miss as I drove back by, and I pulled into a parking spot right next to their Buckledown van.
The taproom is small and cozy with a bar area and couches and tables throughout. A large American flag hangs along one wall, and stacks of board games along the other. I loved being in that space. It felt homey in a way I truly love about craft beer taprooms.
I had had several of their beers before and knew what I like. This is a pet- and kid-friendly environment — a couple of kids were playing some board games as I enjoyed my flight.
The next stop, Blue Nose Brewery, isn’t far from Buckledown — just down 47th Street and then a turn down East Avenue. I never have been in this area before, and I really liked the drive.
Blue Nose Brewery is tucked into a little shopping strip next to a Menards in Hodgkins. I didn’t know what to expect from this outfit when I walked in. I had seen their website, and I might have had one or two of their beers before. I was delightfully surprised to try a bunch of high-quality, hazy IPAs and excellent kettle sours from this unassuming brewery.
Their taproom is a large, beautiful space that looks as though it could be a lot of fun on a Friday night. People were playing bags in the parking lot as I walked up, and there were arcade games along one side of the taproom. They have an arrangement worked out with a local restaurant to have deliveries to the taproom, which I didn’t utilize while I was there. I liked this spot and definitely will check back in with them to see what else they come up with.
The last stop on this short trip is the well-beloved 5 Rabbit Brewery or Cerveceria in Bedford Park. 5 Rabbit Cerveceria is the first U.S.-based, Latin American-inspired brewery.
I’ve been meaning to get up to 5 Rabbit for years, and I’m glad I did. You have to be careful with this brewery and planning your trip because they only are open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (4 to 10 p.m.) and Saturday (1 to 11 p.m.).
On Thursdays, tacos start at 5:30 p.m., and they have tamales on Saturdays. I love this brewery, and I dig their beer. The taproom has beautiful murals on the walls and has a real chill vibe for an industrial space.
I parked in a lot to the west of the taproom. There were two garage doors slid open for guests to enter through, but I asked a staff person where I should park because it didn’t seem clear to me as I entered. 5 Rabbit is an essential part of the craft beer experience in Chicago, and I am glad I finally made it up there.
Painted Turtle from Buckledown Brewery
ABV: 7 percent
Style: IPA — American
Notes: Bitterness is balanced by a well-selected malt backbone.
Where to Buy: Binny’s Beverage Depot in six packs of 12-ounce cans for $9.99.
Cool Hair from Blue Nose Brewery
ABV: 7 percent
Style: Sour — Other
Where to Buy: The taproom in 16-ounce pours for $7.
Paletas Tuna and Zarzamora from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
ABV: 4.3 percent
Style: Fruit beer
Notes: Summer ale with prickly pear and blackberry.
Where to Buy: The brewery in 16-ounce pours for $6.