Beer Bistro, Chicago, Illinois

By | June 19, 2013

Beer Bistro, Chicago

Being dragged around the shoe department of Macy’s in Chicago for an hour and a half is my idea of hell.

I hate shopping. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT.

However, having been whisked through the store’s revolving doors faster than Usain Bolt by my good lady InnSpectre, 90 minutes later she astutely assessed that my patient approach to shoe shopping had done enough to earn me some beer.

Once again, she was just as quick as the great man to suggest a solution to my Macy’s misery.

She said she knew a little place which would be right up my street.

God bless her. It was a stroke of genius because it turns out my street just happens to be West Madison – the home of the Beer Bistro.

Soon enough, thoughts of the high-heeled hell I’d been trapped in for what seemed like an eternity gave way to waves of excitement as we prepared to enter the Bistro with it’s bounty of booze.

This drinking den looks unassuming on the outside, with it’s brown awning and small patio area, but once through it’s doors the drinker enters a world of possibilites, where beers from all over the world are either on draught or invitingly stacked behind the bar.

The interior is classy. Ceiling fans lend a sense of nostalgia while the walls are lined with breweriana such as mirrors, posters and signs from around the globe, including London’s very own Fuller’s brewery.

We pulled up a couple of seats by the Delirium Tremenshand pump and before we had chance to draw breath, a bartender with a pen stuck behind one ear called Scott placed a couple of beer menus down for us to peruse the 21 draught options.

I went for a pint of Lake Erie Monster (9.1%) from Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewery. It was the first time I’d tried this particular beer and the rich hoppy taste certainly packs a punch.

Talking of punches, Chicago is a sports-mad city, so expect to find some guys or gals sat at the bar watching a ball game or boxing match.

On this occasion, we were the guy and gal glued to the TV screen at the bar (well, I was, she wasn’t) – watching the Chicago Cubs slug it out with the San Diego Padres at the city’s legendary baseball stadium, Wrigley Field.

The Beer Bistro may cater for sports junkies like myself, but it also appeals to a wider demographic such as the city’s womenfolk, some of whom grabbed the opportunity for a good old fashioned post-work bitching session with great gusto.

The Kardashian sisters would be proud.

Reassuringly, there were also guys just hanging out on their own, sat staring into the far distance wondering where their lives had gone wrong, like guys tend to do from time to time.

I felt happy after my hoppy experience at the Beer Bistro to such an extent that I suggested to my good lady that I’d be glad to escort her on another magical Macy’s shoe shopping trip in the near future.

I instantly regretted what I said but it was the beer talking, all 9.1% of it.


ADDRESS: 1061 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607.

ATMOSPHERE: *** It was quiet, but it was late afternoon/early evening.

DECOR: *** Classy and clean.

SERVICE: ***** I don’t normally name names, but Scott was a lovely guy and answered my questions about the beers with authority. He finished his shift before we left and bought us both a shot each before heading for home. We chose Sambuca, and I blame that for my moment of madness when I suggested returning to Macy’s. The other members of staff were very friendly too, cracking jokes while pouring the pints.

SELECTION: ***** A total of 21 draught beers speaks for itself. Choices included Scurvy from Wisconsin’s Tyranena Brewery – a zesty, citrusy beer made using blood red oranges.

PRICE: To be honest, I was so delirious after Macy’s that I forgot to pay attention when my good lady InnSpectre was trying to worm her way back into my good books by plying me with booze. It was a crafty tactic, but it worked. Let’s just say I think the drinks were reasonably priced.

GERRY’S FINAL THOUGHT: What Chicago’s boozers lack in history and tradition they make up for with warmth, hospitality and a range of great beers. Customer service is everything in the US and us British folk could do with learning a thing or two from our American cousins, like Scott.

The InnSpectre reviews…

The Ship and Shovell has an area called The Snug which consists of a table and two chairs at the top of a small staircase. It provides the ideal place for two lovers to gaze into each others’ eyes and have a blazing row in private – a point well worth remembering the next time you and the missus have one of those make-or-break chats.

The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge is surrounded by the beauty, peace and tranquility of the North Yorkshire Moors and this is what lures me back time after time. It’s where I come to escape the rat race and the wretched rodents who compete in it.

A young barman at the King’s Head in Deal came right over to me and played the spoons to an impressive standard before wowing his audience by drinking beer from his shoe. Once the applause died down the lad jumped on a table where he danced with a blonde female colleague. If I’d done that I’d have fallen flat on my face.

The barman at the Windsor Castle in Clapham could barely take his eyes off television coverage of the horse racing and pulled my pint with about as much vim and vigour as a donkey being led to the glue factory.