What it is: In the Chicago craft beer canon, Domaine DuPage constitutes an oldie but a goodie — a very goodie. Launched in 1999, long before the current wave of Chicago brewery openings, Domaine is a biere de garde, a French style that never became terribly mainstream in the United States, but not for any fault of its own. Biere de garde is a style that excels in its balance — not too hoppy, not too malty, not too earthy, not too dry but a little bit of all of the above — and Domaine DuPage is a fine example, if not slightly drier and lower-alcohol than usual (though that’s exactly what you want in summer, isn’t it?). It’s little wonder that this beer has been a repeat award winner, including a gold medal in the Belgian- and French-Style Ale category at the 2014 World Beer Cup, where it topped 30 other entries from across the globe.
In the bottle: Pouring a lovely deep copper, Domaine DuPage presents several subtle but satisfying notes up front: a touch of caramel, light bready malt and a surprising burst of cocoa, all of which comes in a lightly creamy body. No single flavor overwhelms this beer, and that’s to its credit. Though the cocoa is arguably its strongest single flavor, and Domaine DuPage features an upfront sweetness, it’s fleeting and finishes rich, dry and a touch bready. An elegant beer that’s just as deft as it is approachable.
Alcohol: 5.9 percent
Drink it with: Not too heavy and not too light, Domaine DuPage pairs with most any meal, from a roast chicken to anything you might pull off the grill this summer. It is, in fact, an ideal backyard barbecue beer.
Find it: Available in six- and 12-packs of 12-ounce bottles at better beer stores in Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.