Maria's Packaged Goods

Sustainably Brewed: Brian Taylor & Ria Neri of Whiner Beer Co.

Sustainably Brewed: Brian Taylor & Ria Neri of Whiner Beer Co.

BACK OF THE YARDS, CHICAGO

Straying far from the beaten path is Whiner Beer Co. in Chicago's Back Of The Yards. Seconds upon arrival, it's clear there's something special happening at this South Side brewery. Located in The Plant–Chicago's greenest collection of businesses under one roof–founders Brian Taylor and Ria Neri are at the helm of the city's most unique brewery.

The Brewers of Goose Island Clybourn

The Brewers of Goose Island Clybourn

LINCOLN PARK, CHICAGO

Chicago is a brewer's kind of town. The city's history is chock full of beer, dating back to the 19th century, persisting through the dark days of Prohibition, and finally to the near constant industry expansion we see today. If you define, as most do, the "modern" craft beer movement as beginning sometime in the late 1980's, there's an unquestioned name that pioneered the local movement during an otherwise miserable time for craft beer in Chicago.

Chicago Craft Crawl #2: Halsted Street

Chicago Craft Crawl #2: Halsted Street

There are very few streets in Chicago with Halsted's combination of history and diversity. Spanning 168 city blocks, the street daggers through over a dozen neighborhoods, passes near two Major League Baseball stadiums, offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, and is the location of countless historic landmarks.

We began our Sunday afternoon tour at one of the city's recently refreshed watering holes, Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar (31st & Morgan) in Bridgeport. If you're like us and hadn't made the trip to this south side establishment yet, the draw of the place might be a little difficult to explain. With a somewhat unassuming storefront exterior, it's an easy place to miss. Peek inside, however, and you'll start to see what all the fuss is about. A tiny front room is crammed from floor to ceiling with craft beer. Well-known local brews sit side by side with hard-to-find offerings from Chicago and beyond.