Spotlight on Haymarket Brewing Company: Plenty of award-winning beer, scrumptious food and a lively, versatile space in Chicago’s dynamic West Loop
Haymarket Brewing Company
737 W. Randolph
Chicago, IL 60661
Monday-Wednesday: 4-11 p.m.
Thursday: 1-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 12 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Sunday: 12-9 p.m.
History in short: Co-owner Pete Crowley has been brewing beer for 25 years (and has some 75 medals to show for his skills), starting his professional career at The Flying Dog in Aspen and then eventually Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Chicago, where he met his business partner, John Neurauter. The pair had numerous conversations about starting their own thing and, while looking at real estate in 2008, happened across their current location in Chicago’s now incredibly popular West Loop neighborhood.
“Let me tell you, the West Loop wasn’t super sexy at the time,” says Crowley, who opened on Christmas Eve in 2010. “The area’s anchor restaurants were closing, but we did our research and really fell in love with the history of the area. Our building was right across the street from where the infamous Haymarket Riot started, we were near the expressway, on a major corner. Location, accessibility and legitimate Chicago history.”
With a lively bar up front followed by a dining room, brewing facility and large, secluded private-party room in the back, it is truly one of the city’s most welcoming brewpub experiences.
The space: Crowley and Neurauter wanted to create two distinctly different vibes in one space. They both had an affinity for pizza, homemade sausage and craft food, but while Crowley favored more of a sports pub feel with sports on the TVs and the camaraderie that’s formed from watching games together, Neurauter preferred more of a coffeehouse atmosphere with bourbon and live music.
They managed to establish both angles with Haymarket, with a lively bar up front followed by a dining room, brewing facility and large, secluded private-party room in the back. It is truly one of the city’s most welcoming brewpub experiences.
Interesting note: For many years, Haymarket has been at the forefront when it comes to increasing diversity in the craft-beer scene in Illinois. Its residency program for black-owned brewers routinely provides a spot in downtown Chicago to have their beers on tap, get some exposure and host events.
“We’ve been collaborating with black brewers and helping them tell their story when they didn’t have a voice or a seat at the table,” Crowley says. “We’re not doing it to look cool or because we have to, but because it needed to be done to get folks a foot in the door of this process.”
On vacation in southwest Michigan and looking for some award-winning craft beer? You’re in luck, as Haymarket expanded to Bridgman — some 84 miles from downtown Chicago — in 2016.
Yes, Michigan: On vacation in southwest Michigan and looking for some award-winning craft beer? You’re in luck, as Haymarket expanded to Bridgman — some 84 miles from downtown Chicago — in 2016 with a larger facility for canning, a taproom and beer garden. The crispy wood-fired pizza is worth the stop alone.
What we’re drinking and eating: The Baltic porter and 100% Chance of Change NEIPA are personal favorites off a constantly evolving draft list, but don’t pass up a chance to try the tasty and light Swingers Paradise pineapple wheat or easy-drinking Speakerswagon German pilsner.
Haymarket’s burgers, fried chicken sandwich and tavern-style pizzas are more than worthy, but if you want a sandwich you’ll be talking about weeks later, go for The Riot. It consists of smoked pork shoulder, fennel and barley Italian sausage, topped with mozzarella, Memphis BBQ sauce and serrano and pear giardiniera. Now that’s a sandwich.
What’s on tap: Haymarket is known for their seasonal releases, so try to get your hands on The Defender, a robust, slightly hoppy American stout with hints of coffee beans, chocolate and citrus. And the Mathias Imperial IPA (named after the first officer killed during the Haymarket Riot of 1886), loaded with citra hops with a hint of mango and grapefruit.
From the brewery: “Having our two locations — in Chicago and southwest Michigan — really is the best of all worlds. Whether you like sand dunes and small towns, suburbs or downtown city nightlife, we have every environment you could want.” — Co-owner and head brewer Pete Crowley