When it comes to brewpubs, Chicago is woefully lacking in options. We have Goose Island, Wicker Park's Piece, chain brewpub Rock Bottom Brewery, and that's about it. While the location and the menu of Rock Bottom promises a "please the masses" beer-drinking experience, you might be surprised if you venture deeper into the brewery offerings.
Starting with the menu, Rock Bottom serves your to-be-expected bar food like buffalo wings and oversized pretzels, sandwiches, pasta and burgers. As something to soak up some of the Rock Bottom brews, the menu works well, and helpfully offers beer pairings to match your meal. A "happy hour" menu brings you specialty $3 offerings in the afternoon and early evening.
When it comes to the beer, Rock Bottom has a reliable stable of run-of-the-mill offerings which you can find at every location (Rock Bottom has outposts in 15 states) which is like a greatest-hits of brewpubs. There's a lager, a pale ale, a stout, a porter, a brown ale, a red ale and a light beer on hand just about everywhere. From there, things start to get interesting, because each Rock Bottom has an in-house brewer who is allowed the freedom to create specialty and seasonal beers of their own design. This makes each Rock Bottom unique unto itself; Chicago's Rock Bottom has recently had a very good Scotch Ale and Oatmeal Stout, to name just a couple.
The indecisive among us will appreciate their beer sampler, available with a selection of five of their main brews. If you don’t know much about beer, it's a good way to get an idea of what different beers have to offer; if you do know your beer, dive headfirst into the specialty beer menu and surprise yourself.
If you don't care about any of this and just want to hang out on the rooftop deck and drink in the scenery, that's certainly your right. It's a good place to do so.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars