One day I was walking down Milwaukee Avenue towards Armitage when my iPhone died. On a whim I walked up to this beautiful glass-enclosed bar on the corner of Milwaukee and Talman and knocked on the door, where a smiling bearded gentleman opened a little early to let me in and charge up.
That gentleman was Tim Enarson, co-owner of Navigator Taproom (2211 N. Milwaukee Ave.), a new bar that allows you to “navigate your craft beer and wine experience” by self pouring beer and wine and paying by the ounce. Partnered up with Erik Swanson, Enarson launched Navigator Taproom in July 2017. They’ve been wholly embraced by the neighborhood, supporting local vendors such as Whiner Beer Company, Half Acre Beer Company and Eternally Nuts from Chicago Candy and Nut.
“Hey, within two minutes of walking in our door, you could be drinking your favorite new beer,” Enarson said.
Navigator Taproom was inspired by a visit to Joe’s Wine Cellar (2108 W. Division St.), a self-pouring wine store in Wicker Park, where the guys thought, “Why not do this for craft beers, as well as a selection of wine?” It’s a popular idea, with self-pouring breweries exploding across the U.S.
How it works
Every individual leaves a credit card with the attendant, who gives you an e-card that allows you to pour the tap of any draft, craft beer or wine one ounce at a time from their menu.
Once you’ve had your fill, return the e-card and you can pay with debit, credit or cash. You and your friends can enjoy a tasting party without debating over who ordered what.
From the heartiest of drinkers to the teatotalers, anyone can come in and sample a pale ale or chardonnay. Also, there’s a bar for mixed drinks or soda.
There’s free popcorn and pretzels to snack on, and for those wanting a meal, you can B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own Pizza) or order food from local restaurants like the nearby Serai (2169 N. Milwaukee Ave.), one of Enarson’s favorite Malaysian places, and have it delivered to your table for a minimal fee.
Tim’s wife Devron is delighted by the location.
“We’ve been looking for the right destination for awhile, and I always openly rooted for Logan Square,” Devron said.
Navigator Taproom is a bright and inviting hangout, with HD TV screens, couches and stacks of board games along with tables and stools.
You can curl up in a corner and quietly sip and read a book or you can take advantage of their weekly events:
If you’re a Meetup fan, the taproom is a favorite destination of the Beer and Board Games Chicago group, as well as birthday parties and local organizations, like a special event March 1 that featured local attorney Emily Wessel Farr talking about harassment at work during the #MeToo era. Read our coverage on the event here.
Don’t depend on serendipity like yours truly—come in and find your new favorite drink. I highly recommend trying out the Noon Whistle while it’s available.
Click here to see more Navigator Taproom photos in Erik’s Flickr album.