Irish beer can be had in Chicago year round

March 17, 2012 8:27:04 PM PDT
Now that the official St. Patrick's Day parade is over and the river has been dyed green, many people are putting thoughts of Irish beer behind them.

But you can find Irish-style beers throughout Chicago all year long. A lot of these Irish-styled brews come from the Midwest.

Corned beef will be consumed in prodigious amounts this weekend.. but so will Irish beers. And yet, not every bar in the city carries the usual suspects, like the Small Bar, which has three locations in Chicago, including Ukrainian Village

"We're a craft beer bar. So we don't carry a lot of the big import brands that people might be more familiar with. But we always carry those same styles and we carry alternates, you know that kind of fill the void," said Phil McFarland, the owner of SmallBar-Division.

McFarland's team can easily recommend alternatives; often times, they're from as close as the Midwest. Let's say you can't find Guiness on tap.

"We can easily switch them to Boulevards, a brewery out of Kansas City. They make a dry style, a dry Irish style. Fits the bill, same flavor profile we actually pour it on nirto. So it gets that great creamy head. If you're looking for a Guiness it definitely scratches that itch," he said.

And to go with a Scotch egg, or a corned beef sandwich, you might want an E-S-B, or Extra Special Bitter, but he says Colorado's Left Hand Brewing makes a Sawtooth Ale that easily subs for an English Ale. If you're more of a Harp fan, he says Chicago's very own Metropolitan Dynamo is the way to go.

"Well they're both lagers, so fundamentally they are similar malt, similar process, similar production," said McFarland.

If you're more of a Smithwick's kind of drinker, seeking a red ale, McFarland says look no further than Cleveland.

"Great Lakes Brewing does an Irish red ale. It's a seasonal; they have it from January to March. They basically have it out available for St.Patrick's Day. Then it sort of goes away till the next year. But it's another great locally-produced ale," he said.

Now there's nothing wrong with a Murphy's or Harp or even Guinness. But now that St.Patrick's Day is almost over. It's good to know that there are lots of beers out there with similar styles. And the nice thing is many of them are produced right here in the U.S.

You can find these beers at any craft beer bar, as well as Binny's.

Small Bar
2049 W. Division St.
(773) 772-2727

1415 W. Fullerton Ave.
(773) 525-2727

2956 N. Albany Ave.
(773) 509-9888

March Beer Brunch with 5 Rabbit Brewery

SmallBar will offer a special menu designed by Chef Justin White to pair with unique brews from 5 Rabbit Brewery. The pairings for March (available only March 18, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at SmallBar Division) include dishes like Schnitzel Tinga Chilaquiles; Roasted Poblano Pepper and Potato; Hoja Santa and Balsamic Grilled Quail.

In keeping with the theme, each person will receive housemade Agua Fresca. The entrées and the beers are available a la carte. The full brunch menu will also be available during this special event.

Reservations are strongly recommended. Contact SmallBar at to save your seat.