This week is Chicago Craft Beer Week, so now is as good a time as ever to go out and have a cold one. Here are some websites to help you decide what to drink, where to drink it, and even how to describe what you're drinking so you can impress your friends.
This website has beer news and information as well as an online community dedicated to beer. Some features (including searching) require you to register with this site; registration is free, however. The Best of BA lists the highest rated beers on the site. Beer 101 is a "ready reference" section for beer; you find out about different styles of beer, how to pour beer, how to taste beer, what glass to use for what beer, and more. Beerfly is a great place to locate places to drink and buy beer when you're on vacation.
Site Tip: One good way to work around registration is to type the name of the beer manufacturer and the style (ex. Miller's Genuine Draft, Founder's Double Trouble, Goose Island's Sofie) into a search engine like Google , usually the Beer Advocate profile of the beer will be in the first two hits (example here).
You've probably seen Rate Beer ratings if you've ever shopped at Binny's. This is another site similar to Beer Advocate where you can review beers. Rate Beer has a lot of contributors from Denmark, which has one of the hottest craft beer scenes right now. This is a good place to find out about all the up and coming Scandinavian brews; two of the most widely distributed in this country (besides macrobrew Carlsberg) include Mikkeller and Nøgne Ø.
This is my favorite beer magazine and the online website is jammed pack with features. Beer Talk has experts like Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery discuss and rate beer. Don't know what to drink next? Check out the Beer of The Week or the Buyer's Guide for Beer Lovers. If you want to try new and different types of beer, check out stylistically speaking. If you still want to read more, check out their blogs Bradford on Beer and Beer Soup. This is probably the best sight for people who really want to learn about beer, its history, how it's made, and how to appreciate it.
A major sponsor of Craft Beer Week, this website is a great place to find out about beer events around the state. My favorite feature is the Breweries Map, where you can find breweries in your neighborhood that you might not be aware of yet.
Not the most attractive website design, but a great site for finding local and international breweries. For beer snobs on the go, check out Beer in Airports, because you wouldn't want to settle for a Sam Adams, when you can have a Honker's Ale instead. The Beer List is also sortable, pretty cool.
This website has lengthy reviews of bars in Chicago and a few of the suburbs. Reviews are written by locals and often times include the history of the bars. Bars are sorted by geographic location (i.e. "West Side") and neighborhood (i.e. "Noble Square"). Chicago Bar Project also has guides to certain types of bars including those that are good for bachelor and bachelorette parties and bars where writers hang out (a great place to go if you want to end up as a character in a screenplay). This is a great place to find a bar that matches your mood.
Also, if you are wondering about the beer pictured at the top, it's an amazing stout with an 18 % ABV from Delaware brewing company Dogfish Head. Read about it here and here.