The age of specialty beer is upon us. If you haven’t yet visited one of the many craft breweries cropping up around Logan Square and the city at large, chances are you will soon. Sifting through a long list of unfamiliar names can be daunting—especially if you’re someone who prefers red wine or a cold PBR—but bartender Desiree Pontarelli is here to help. Pontarelli has served in Chicago’s craft beer industry for five years, most recently at Hopewell Brewing Company (2760 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
Here are her tips to find the craft beer that speaks to your soul.
1. Be honest with the bartender.
If you’re overwhelmed by the menu, start by telling the bartender your drink preferences, whether that be a specific beer, alternate alcohol or just a general flavor.
“Most people who work in the brewing industry have had a lot of beer, so chances
She also has recommendations on hand for customers who typically drink wine or who don’t like beers that taste “
2. Ask for a sample.
Some breweries, like Hopewell, allow you to sample their beers before going all in on one. Take advantage of this, because craft beer can be pricey and you don’t want your $8 going to a wasted drink. If after sampling a few you still can’t commit to just one beer, order a flight of five or six small ones instead.
3. Don’t gloss over the specials.
Seasonal offerings and promotions can bump your experience up a notch if you’re feeling adventurous. Hopewell’s Oktoberfest-inspired draft, Endgrain, is a dark beer that encapsulates dreary fall days, while 10 percent of the proceeds from its People Power draft go to the American Civil Liberties Union.
4. When in doubt, go light.
If all else fails, find a lager or pilsner that you can sip on in peace. These are typically the lightest beers and most reminiscent to domestic beer. Don’t worry, you can go home and drink a PBR later if necessary.
Featured photo: Quinn Dombrowski