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How Much Is Beer At Your Fave Bar? Study Shows The Cost of Brews in Chicago

CHICAGO — North Center is the craft beer capital of Chicago, and brews in River North are just as expensive as those sold in ... Bridgeport?

One study says so.

Chicago-based Datascope Analytics pulled data earlier this month on beer prices and offerings at watering holes throughout the city as summer approaches. The data, mined from beermenus.com, includes 12,562 different beers sold at 190 Chicago bars. 

"In pretty much every part of the city, there are places you can seek out to find a nice selection," said Brian Lange, a homebrewer and the data scientist who did the study.

David Matthews discusses the beer data:

Since the study only includes bars that posted their selections on beermenus.com, it is far from comprehensive. But Lange said many of the local bars that take the most pride in its beer are on the site. One notable exception: Hopleaf in Andersonville. 

And with that disclaimer out of the way, the study shows:

• Chicago is segregated, but beer costs pretty much the same everywhere

[All charts courtesy of Datascope Analytics/Brian Lange]

Lange found the median price of beer at a Chicago bar is $6, with not much disparity on either end of the scale. The cheapest neighborhoods for going out drinking include Rogers Park and Beverly (at $5 per beer on average) while traditionally blue-collar Bridgeport, at $7 per beer, is apparently as expensive as River North or the Gold Coast.

That may be a result of the sample, which in Bridgeport skews heavily toward Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar, which serves 212 different beers including expensive craft brews. The "United Center" data in the chart reflects a Near West Side neighborhood and not the actual stadium itself, by the way. 

"Your neighborhood dive bars aren't going to list their menus on beermenus.com," Lange said. "Those places are just as important as the tip-top craft beer ones, but it's harder to get data on them."

• IPAs are king

India Pale Ales, which are lauded for their high alcohol content by volume but sometimes taste like lawn clippings, are now the most prevalent beers at Chicago bars, overtaking pale lagers, a family of brews that includes Coors Light and the self-proclaimed "King of Beers," Budweiser.

Though craft brewing extends well beyond IPAs, this chart illustrates the evolving tastes of American beer drinkers, Lange said.

"For people who are champions of craft beer, it's a great sign," he said.

The least common type of beer here? Grisette, a warm weather beer first brewed for Belgian miners. There's one, Smuttynose Hayseed, on sale at Parlor Pizza Bar in the West Loop. 

• Hit North Center and quaff 'em all

If IPAs aren't for you, a trio of North Center bars offer the widest variety of beer styles in town, Datascope found. The Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Road, also led the list in the total number of different beers served.

"It’s fun to find new things," Lange said. "I have my favorites, like everybody else, but it’s a beverage. There’s so much of a spectrum."   

(h/t Datascope Analytics)

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