Want to be a human cliché this Valentine’s Day? Go ahead, pop open a bottle of bubbly, make a reservation on Restaurant Row, or buy a box of chocolates whose half-eaten remains will be sitting stale on your kitchen counter in March. For something a bit more relaxed, affordable, and becoming of the American city with the most breweries, consider a beer-centric holiday weekend.
Idea #1: Go out in style
Look, most breweries aren’t romantic. They tend to be well-lit, contemporary, and communal, with exposed metal tanks and long, shared tables being more common than candlelight or seating for two. There are a few options, however, that buck the trend and offer a slightly more intimate option for a Valentine’s Day outing.
- Beermiscuous, the bottle shop and bar near the intersection of Lincoln, Diversey and Racine, has a set of cozy booth-like nooks in the back that make a great place for a meetup with your beer-loving significant other. It’s drinks only, but you can have food delivered or use it as your pre-dinner pit stop.
- While the first floor of Revolution’s brewpub is always bustling, the second floor (when it’s not closed for a private event) offers a far quieter space to sit and have a drink. I recommend sitting at the long, wooden bar and sampling 4 oz tasters for a relaxed Valentine’s Day date.
- In the near suburbs? Kinslahger’s taproom on Roosevelt in Oak Park is quaint, with a minimalist, black and white interior and terrible cell service (a bonus on date night).
- Farther out? Check out any of Two Brothers‘ locations. The Tap House in Warrenville has a Valentine’s Day special, the historic roundhouse in Aurora is a personal favorite, and the Barrel House in Naperville with its Third Floor bar provides a refined, cocktail-centered experience.
Idea #2: Pop open that special bottle
Valentine’s Day weekend promises to be the coldest of the winter thus far. What better time to open up that bottle of barrel-aged stout that you’ve been waiting on? Sixteen ounces of 14% abv. beer can be a bit of a tall solo order, but perfectly manageable for two over the course of the evening.
Of course, barrel-aged beers aren’t the only option for you and yours. Valentine’s Day is a great time to practice the fine art of compromise, and some beers offer the chance to please multiple palates. Imperial reds and red IPAs are a great way to split a beer or three between a hophead and a malt-lover, so crack open the last of your Nosferatu or pick up a 6-pack of Cain and Ebel, which just came back on the market.
Idea #3: Split 6
An early date with my now-fiancé involved going to the local liquor store and building our own six pack, then sampling them over the course of the evening. It’s a great way to try something new and have something you can share and talk about. Make sure you check the dates on those bottles, though – nobody wants a beer that tastes like Brach’s Conversation Hearts.