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Clark Street Ale House
Taps: 25 / Bottles: 50
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar ]
742 N Clark St
phone: (312) 642-9253
Monday - Thursday: 4pm - 4am
Friday - Saturday: 4pm - 5am
Sunday: 5pm - 4am
(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 88
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $
Located a brisk 15 minute walk west of Daly Plaza, the Clark Street Ale House is close to being this beer lover's dream pub. Its a long, narrow, building with a nice mix of tables and seats at the bar, which runs almost the entire length of the place. Ditch the music and keep the sound off on the TV and I'd be in heaven.
22 beers on draft, all regional micros (except Guinness and Harp), and Bell's Two-Hearted ale on cask (no sparkler for those who care). When I was there, I noted selections from Bell's, Three Floyds, Sprecher, and Two Brothers, Dog Fish Head although there were more. There is a chalkboard list and a paper menu describing the beer's in more detail, and the selection rotates.
The bottled list was impressive as well, and limited almost exclusively to small micros. Anderson Valley, seven from Rogue, Dog Fish Head, Shipyard, Allagash, and seven from Bell's (including Expedition Stout, Third Coast Old Ale, Batch 6000 and the Sparkling Ale). The Bartender said they had Expedition going back over seven vintages, but that a staffer had unknowingly consolidated them all, so they were charging the same price for them all as there was no way to tell them apart.
The Bartender was extremely knowlegable and friendly. We had a rather long discussion about the various beers on offer, homebrewing and other great bars in Chicago. I was there early, and it was not yet very crowded, however. Proper glassware was used for each of the beers I sampled.
Prices are outrageously cheap, particularly for downtown Chicago. An imperial pint of cask 2 Hearted was $4, and bottles of Bell's Batch 6000 were $5. Highly recommended. Need more? They also have a great selection of small batch and single barrel bourbons and single malt scotches (including independent bottlings) for equally reasonable prices.
11-17-2003 15:55:06 |
More by Realale
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Clark Street was the first bar I hit on my recent Chicago trip, and I was not disappointed! The atmosphere was nice and open in a fairly happening area, but it was not overly crowded for a Saturday night. I saw up at the bar and went through many samplers of all the great Midwest/East Coast ales I can't get in San Diego (Three Floyd's Two Guys, Goose Island, etc). The service was excellent, but then again I was at the bar by myself and didn't order food. The beer selection was awesome, with about two dozen craftbrews on tap. I was kind of bummed to be myself (my friend's flight was delayed), but I had a blast sampling all those great selections. A solid bar in a city full of great ones!
UPDATE 3/9/08- Hit Clark St for the second time last week, and it was even better than my previous visit. Had a blast talking beer and spirits with David and my friend until last call. Another great lineup of regional craftbrews (FFF, 2Brothers, etc.) and we even dove into some of the rarer whiskeys. I have to say that this is my current favorite bar in Chicago and look forward to my next visit to this bar. Bonus points for close proximity to the hotel district! HIGHLY RECOMMEDED!!!
03-09-2008 22:01:24 |
More by Stoneman78
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Stopped here for the second time on a trip to Chicago.
Had a wonderful evening here... great selection, with a concentration on local stuff. About 16 or so taps, along with a hand-pumped cask ale (which was incredible). Excellent service. Very friendly, attentive bartender who made some very nice recommendations. No food here, but some seriously good pretzel rods all along the bar. Roomy bar with plenty of stools and pub-height tables. Good weather while we were there... so the window up front was open, and the place wasn't smoky at all, despite a number of people smoking.
09-10-2007 22:50:31 |
More by bobbyc881
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I recently attended a four day convention held at McCormick Place in Chicago and stayed at a Hampton Inn several blocks away from the Clark Street Ale House. I have frequented the Map Room many times on my usual business trips (and adore it!), but always stayed in hotels in the suburbs. Due to the traffic congestion, making my way back and forth to a suburban hotel seemed to be a depressing thought so I stayed downtown. I had read about the Clark Street Ale House in Beer Advocate magazine and was delighted that it was close by and I could drink all I wanted and not have to drive.
My first impression of the Clark Street Ale House was that it was not very exciting visually and wasn't very impressive. After examining the beer list, I was disappointed not to find any Belgian beers on draft, or even in bottles. However, there is nothing shabby at all about the craft beers on tap. I tried and loved the Surly Furious Ale and had both the Three Floyd's selections. I consumed many pretzels and got into the bar scene which consisted mainly of locals. I had a great time talking about beer, sports and politics with the patrons and had a great time.
If you are a liquor lover, I noticed the strong pours of the knowledgeable bartenders who treated the locals as friends and greeted them by name with hearty handshakes and slaps on the back.
If you are staying in the downtown area, the Clark Street Ale House is a fantastic place to visit. The thought of paying $20 each way to go to the Map Room or Hop Leaf wasn't to appealing for a salesman who is on a per diem. I always invest in beer!
03-05-2008 15:37:37 |
More by rudyarmand
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This was definitely a solid place to go. I went during somewhat "off-hours" (a Saturday afternoon) and hung out for a few hours. I was pretty impressed with their beer selection on tap and ended up trying 3 snifters and a sampler of 3-5oz beers. Since it was fairly quiet, I got to chat with the bartender. He was rather knowledgeable about the beers that they serve and gave me some insight on what they were aging and what I should try.
Overall, I'm looking forward to going there again. It sounds like they rotate their selection and I'm looking forward to seeing what else they get.
09-29-2012 21:41:42 |
More by SpasticKoala
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $
Notes taken during a visit from July 2003.
Short walk from the hotel, although parts of the neighborhood seem dicey to me, it was all good stepping inside.
No food, no need. Stop and get yourself a bit before you come through here if you must.
Dark wood and a good large space. I was in there on a Monday evening and the place was fairly empty with an attentive bartender who knowing I was an out of towner (by the Chicago Beer Guide in my hands) set me up with a good review of what was on tap (20+ and a cask. All damn fine beers) and where to go for good beer on my trip through town.
Definate neighborhood regulars character to hte joint as people drifted in and out and talked with each other.
Good place and just what I'd want around me. (Ok.. maybe a little food)
(Update from June 2005)
Now on my Fifth visit this place continues to still be my favorite quiet place to grab a pint in the downtown loop. Still definately worth a look and my previous ratings.
12-17-2003 03:15:00 |
More by drewbage
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
Visited the Clark Street Ale House about a month ago while waiting for buddies. They were coming up from downstate for my friend's bachelor party.
For some reason I had visions of this place being huge (for reasons I don't know) but it's just a normal sized bar. By no means is it a dive but its not ultra fancy/trendy. Just the way I like em! Really cool dark woodwork adorns the bar along with a big selection of spirits. The beer selection was fairly nice as well. I kind of got unlucky and hit it on a night were I had already tried everything on tap but they had some good stuff. Lots of local Three Floyds, Two Brothers, Goose Island among some Left Hand, North Coast, Ommegang and the newly received Bells. They had maybe 10-12 taps and a good bottle selection.
The bartender who was working that night was really nice and cool. He definitely seemed to know his shit about the beer. The prices seemed reasonable but honestly since it was Bells return to Chicago, I only paid for 2 beers. Larry Bell was there that night and he bought almost all of my beers. Can't remember exactly how many I had but I know it my bill was like $8. Turns out Mr. Bell is hella freaking generous and just a cool ass dude. (And hilarious. If you doubt me ask him to order a margarita)
Overall it was a great experience and a great time. I was definitely ready to hit up my bachelor party after the couple hours spent getting "warmed up" at the Ale House.
10-22-2008 20:30:03 |
More by younger35
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Yeah, I know they were closed the day before when I came here, but I'm going to give them a chance to redeem themselves, 'cause I'm good like that. After dinner, I led a group of 8 to Clark Street for another go around. I mapped it out. It's exactly 6 blocks this way and then 6 blocks up. They're shortish blocks, it's no big deal, it's completely walkable. We'd get (like) 2 blocks this way and a block up and Scotty B would be all bitching, "Where is this place already?" "Um, okay, 4 blocks this way and 5 up". Another block this way and 2 blocks up, "Where is this place already?!?!?" Um, okay, 3 blocks this way and 3 up". Another 2 blocks this way and a block up, "Where is this place already?" "Jesus Christ!!! It's a block this way and 2 blocks up!!!!" Another block this way and 2 blocks up and we were nearly there, he started yapping again, I could see the place, I just stopped answering him...
25 taps and a cask (Bells Two Hearted). It took me about, oh I don't know, like .000010200320 seconds to decide that I'd have the cask, please. Like the Hopleaf, they have a good collection of micros regional (a pair each of Bells, 3 Floyds & Summit, 5 beers from 2 Brothers including the Clark Street Ale which they contract brew and offerings from Goose Island, Great Lakes, Capital & Stoney Creek) and beyond (Rogue, Anderson Valley, Allagash, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams) as well as Guinness and Harp for (some) effect. Hey, check this out. They do a 3 beer sampler of 5 ounce pourings for $3. You get to try some really good stuff for next to nothing. They're also packing a good collection of bottles just in case you don't like great taps. A bunch of offerings from Bells, Rogue, DogFishHead, Anderson Valley, Summit, Pioneer and a handful of macros and wah wah imports.
Somewhat English pubby with wood walls with exposed brick uppers, pressed tin ceiling, ceiling fans, a dozen bar tables towards the front and a half dozen to the rear adjacent to the bar amidst bar counters and a large old beer mural on the back wall. Wood bar seats more than a dozen with mirrored back bar shelving, big wood units and TV's above the bar. A large wine rack in the corner displays shirts and hats. Spot lighting, red lanterns and red candles. Beer signs and placards, a great CD jukebox and Phil's golf game.
Service was real good. Bartender knew his beer and even fed us some mead. He explained that the private party that had the place closed the day before when me and Shell came by, was their holiday party, an event that I have deemed "legit". I just want you to know, yes, you personally, I want YOU to know that I have officially forgiven them. It's important to me that you know that we're all good now.
02-06-2005 21:03:48 |
More by slander
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
Always worth a stop in the River North area. It's an oasis from the chi-chi elements of the neighborhood. Fairly down to earth crowd, a little noisy after work, but weekends are pretty pleasant. Last weekend we had the beer garden all to ourselves, which was pretty nice. There was even a hop bine growing on the edge of the patio. Brewing-themed murals on the back wall. Very classy dark wood interior, elements suggest an old-time "ale house" how it may have looked a century ago. Luckily the selection is contemporary.
Midwest theme to the selection, and that's where Clark St. shines.
Always a 3 Floyds or 2 Brothers seasonal or specialty on tap. Cask ale on the last visit was 2 Bros. Bitter End. Also enjoyed a draft Fantabulous Resplendence served in a snifter. There are a number of Wild Blossom meads in small bottles available here (five +1 not on the menu), which I haven't seen elsewhere. Selection is highly focused on US craft beer and regional stuff, if you were expecting something else, expect to be disappointed. Chalkboard is fairly current, look for the printed menus laying around for the most current selection. Bourbon & Scotch selection here is also top notch.
The owner can usually be found tending the bar, and gives good reccomendations. Service is always quick and friendly. They have hosted beer related events in the past, such as the release party for 2 Brothers 10 Kriek. This beer bar seems to be a popular destination for travelers staying downtown...be sure to also hit Rock Bottom & Binny's while in the area.
2011: Farmhouse has recently opened nearby, and is a great place to eat before hitting Clark St. Ale House.
09-11-2007 00:52:48 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
When I lived in Chicago this was one of my favorite places to waste an afternoon and evening or meet up with friends and co-workers after work. The room has high tin ceilings and is done in dark woods with a beautiful, large, dark wood bar. One of the best parts is the floor to ceiling windows facing out to Clark St. On nice days the windows are opened wide allowing the city to make its presence known. The staff is great. The servers are very attentive, and if they aren't sure about an answer to your beer question they will seek out one of the bartenders or owners who are all quite knowledgeable.
Though the beer selection many not be one of the largest in the city, it certainly ranks up there in quality. They really focus on the best beers the midwest has to offer, but you will also find a good selection of beers from around the country and a number of great imports.
This is one of the best places, in Chicago, to relax and enjoy some great beers.
09-07-2005 01:15:32 |
More by petercmartin1
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Clark Street Ale House in Chicago, IL
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