The Run Down

Ravenswood, Wrigleyville’s cozy sibling to the north, is home to Chicago’s Malt Row. With Ravenswood Avenue hosting more than 10 craft breweries and distilleries, hitting them all in one go could be quite the doozy. Instead, this guide focuses on two spots for a chill evening of snacks, digestifs and, beer.

1. Lagers @ Dovetail Brewery

2. Smash Burgers @ Cultivate

1. Dovetail Brewery

From the Irving Park Brown Line stop, head down Ravenswood Avenue for our first stop. Being on Malt Row, you’ll first run into a different brewery. Although there are worse problems to have, we’ll save Begyle for a different night. Dovetail resides on the brick-lined 1800 block of Belle Plaine Avenue, and if you’re there on a nice sunny day, they’ll probably have a few taps set up in their back lot as well.

Greeted by the chatter of lively conversations and the aroma of malts wafting through the air says most of what you need to know about Dovetail’s space. Like a carpenter’s dovetail joint, the space is all about bringing folks together over a strong mutual connection. In this case, beer. With a constantly rotating draft list full of lagers, smoked beers, collaborations with other local breweries, and a section solely dedicated to wacky concoctions, you’d be remiss trying to find something here that isn’t up your alley.

Enough talk, let’s grab a pint (or a .5 liter, as these European lager enthusiasts will tell you). Founded by two Chicago locals who met in Munich while studying to be master brewers, you’ll be able to see Dovetail’s dedication to craft shine through each pint poured. If you need a snack, snag a kabanos sausage, pretzel or pickled egg to hold you over.

Ask for an “Underberg” alongside your beer. For the unfamiliar, ask your bartender. Since Dovetail is considered by some to be Illinois’ no. 1 seller of Germany’s nearly 200-year-old bellyache cure, they’d love to sell you on it. It’s like Malort and Jagermeister had a weird German cousin but actually made your stomach feel better afterward. Hear us out on this one.

Dovetail has done the work to solidify its place in the bustling Chicago beer scene since opening in 2016 and has been ramping things up since then. For the real beer nerds, swing by around noon when they open on any Saturday for a tour of their production space.

If you’re solely into IPAs, maybe Dovetail isn’t the place for you. Luckily, for those more hop-inclined or just have a wider beer palate, our next stop is.

2. Cultivate

A quick bike ride northbound on Ravenswood Avenue or a Brown Line ride up to Damen Avenue will lead you to our next beer haven.

Nuzzled alongside the Metra, whooshing to and from downtown, awaits an old brick building. If you’re lost, it’s the one with the script that reads “restaurant,” “brewery,” and “bar.” If that doesn’t help, maybe the wandering smells of carrot cakes, duck, and ricotta will.

Getting their initial footing in 2016 in West Town, just off Chicago Avenue, Forbidden Root has built a reputation for brewing artisanal, rustic farmhouse-style beers. In 2021, they took over the former Michelin-star studded space you’re hanging out in, bringing their fruity witbiers, luscious botanical ales, and seasonal oak ales with them to Malt Row.

Snag a spot at the bar, dive deep into their beer list, grab a few 5-ounce pours if you’re feeling indecisive, and take in their welcoming, cozy, and aristocratic space.

As easy as it is to get lost in the deep botanic beer menu, you’ll want to check out their food menu. Beyond your typical few items that’ll always go well with a cold beer, Cultivate’s menu goes beyond and willingly travels from one end of your pallet to the other.

You’re here for a full meal, and Cultivate’s menu goes hard with plating to match. Opt for the smoky beer-braised ribs, Hawaiian prawns fire-roasted in chimichurri or a giardiniera-soaked double smashburger. Cultivate also has you covered with some artisanal marinated olives, six different kinds of cheeses, or beer’s familiar counterpart: popcorn.

Things to note:

– If you’re ever around for Sunday brunch, you’ll face a completely different menu that features plates such as shrimp & grits, beermosas, and a maple vinaigrette drenched veggie hash.

– If you swing by anytime from 4 – 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or 3 – 5 p.m. Friday, be sure to check out their happy hour menu that includes $10 beer flights and half-off bar snacks. Every Tuesday, any time, oysters are $2.