"I'm kind of a beer geek," says Patrick Berger co-owner of Paddy Long's. Located in the space that used to house Lawry's, this revamped bar, with newly installed flat-screen TVs, an assortment of tin beer posters hammered into beige walls and a jukebox, now boasts an eclectic range of beers from the archetypal Guinness to the complex brown ale Maudite. And should your stomach start to growl after a long night of drinking, it also offers up a small menu, with items like a juicy burger served in a brown paper basket ($8).
As a traditional Irish pub, Paddy Long's strays far from Chicago's usual array of yuppie bars claiming Irish heritage. For one thing, one of the owners was born and raised in what has to be one of the beer-drinking capitals of the world, Dublin, and the other, Berger, is a licensed beer judge. The relaxed atmosphere and educated staff encourage the casual brew drinker to dabble in the unknown. Men with thick Irish accents sip on cans of PBR, but by the second drink, ready to try something new, they lean over the mahogany counter and ask for suggestions. The international beers come in their official glassware to accentuate the flavors, like the Lindemans Framboise, a slightly bitter raspberry beer, served in a flute-shaped glass. Most drafts run less than $6, and mixed drinks, made with fresh-squeezed juice, cost $4.50-$5.50.
Berger even answered a question we have long craved the answer to: Why does Guinness taste so much better in Ireland than in the Windy City? The answer: It's partially due to the proximity of the plant, but also because most bars in the states don't follow Guinness' guidelines when it comes to installing the draft system. Fortunately for all of us wannabe Dubliners, Paddy Long's Guinness tap was installed according to regulations, so it comes as close to an Irish pint as any beer lover can get this side of the Atlantic. "It's just the way it's supposed to be done," says Berger.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Maude Standish