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Chicago Brew Pass Encourages Patrons To Drink Local Beer And Get Free Stuff

The new Choose Chicago program awards points (and prizes) to hopheads who visit two dozen area brewpubs.

Chicago Beer Pass stop ERIS Brewery and Cider House offers not only drinks but a full food menu and both indoor and outdoor dining spaces.
ERIS Brewery and Cider House
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CHICAGO — Free swag for sipping craft beer? Sign us up! Chicago Brew Pass is a new, free, web-based program that encourages residents and tourists to visit local breweries.

Choose Chicago, the city’s official sales and marketing organization, devised the program, which is the first-ever digital pass of its kind in the city.

Patrons 21 and over can register on the Choose Chicago site and earn points for visiting any of the 24 participating breweries, which are displayed on a digital map. Chicago Brew Pass is not an app, but rather a site that uses geolocation to award points. (The technology was developed by the Bandwango company, and no download is required.)

Patrons can collect points to become eligible for prizes (such as a trucker hat or a sling bag), as well as entry into a sweepstakes for “the ultimate Chicago weekend experience,” which includes a $100 restaurant gift card, two theater tickets, two CityPASS tickets and a two-night stay at a Downtown hotel.

“Chicago’s brewery scene is unique because there are so many amazing spaces, from old industrial buildings to riverfront taprooms, to Michelin star taprooms,” said Jason Lesniewicz, the Choose Chicago senior director of cultural tourism. “There’s such an array of experiences here.”

Metropolitan Brewing, one of the many sites on the Choose Chicago Beer Pass, features a riverside deck.
Credit: Metropolitan Brewing

Among the brewpubs participating in the program is ERIS Brewery and Cider House, 4240 W. Irving Park Road, co-owned by Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza. ERIS, which opened in 2018, distributes its cider, and many of the breweries in the program sell it, both on tap and in cans.

Foik avoids the word “competitors” when referring to other local breweries, including Old Irving Brewing, 4419 W. Montrose Ave., which is located near ERIS.

“Old Irving Brewing has been our friend for a long time,” Foik said. “They’re our colleagues. Everyone’s got a different attitude, and we all make different styles. I like the days when people come in and say, ‘We just stopped at OIB, now we’re heading to you, and then we’re going down to Revolution Brewing.’”

Pizza said the Chicago Brew Pass provides a great incentive to check out a variety of activities in the Old Irving Park neighborhood, including BATL Axe Throwing, 4842 W. Irving Park Rd.

“The axe throwing is just down the street,” Pizza said. “But do the axe throwing first, and then visit ERIS. That’s a pro tip right there.”

Just a few of the myriad options available at Forbidden Root in West Town.
Credit: Forbidden Root Brewery

Kevin Cary, who owns Begyle Brewing, 1800 W. Cuyler Ave., echoed Foik’s sentiment about viewing other brewers as colleagues.

“In the beer industry, we work together,” said Cary, who opened Begyle in 2012. “We have a brewery right next door to us called Dovetail, and together we host a festival twice a year. If we treated each other like competitors, it wouldn’t work.

“Each brewery has its own theme. We have approachable, modern American styles, pale ales, IPAs, blonde ales. Dovetail focuses on classic European styles, and they do some Belgian styles as well. So, it’s a totally different vibe over there.”

The Chicago Brew Pass program runs through Jan. 31, so there’s plenty of time for area beer/cider lovers to visit new spots and rack up points. Beyond the swag, Cary said, “Anything that drives traffic to small businesses in Chicago is great.”

Participating breweries and taprooms in the Chicago Brew Pass program:

• Begyle Brewing, 1800 W. Cuyler Ave.

• Burning Bush Brewery, 4014 N. Rockwell St.

• Casa Humilde Cerveceria, 417 N. Ashland Ave.

• Corridor Brewery & Provisions, 3446 N. Southport Ave.

• Crushed By Giants Brewing Company, 600 N. Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor

• Cultivate (by Forbidden Root), 4710 N. Ravenswood Ave.

• Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Ave.

• DryHop Brewers, 3155 N. Broadway

• Duneyrr Fermenta Winery & Brewery, 2337 S. Michigan Ave.

• ERIS Brewery and Cider House, 4240 W. Irving Park Road

• Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

• Goose Island Taproom, 1800 W. Fulton St.

• Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St.

• Hopewell Brewing Co., 2760 N. Milwaukee Ave.

• Illuminated Brew Works, 6186 N. Northwest Highway

• Maplewood Brewery & Distillery, 2717 N. Maplewood Ave.

• Metropolitan Brewing, 3057 N. Rockwell St.

• Midwest Coast Brewing Company, 2137 W. Walnut St.

• Old Irving Brewing Co., 4419 W. Montrose Ave.

• Pilot Project Brewing, 2140 N. Milwaukee Ave.

• Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.

• Spiteful Brewing, 2024 W. Balmoral Ave.

• The Perch Kitchen & Tap, 1932 W. Division St.

• Twisted Hippo, 417 N. Ashland Ave.

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