Explore The Ale Trail While Cruising Route 66

4 can’t-miss craft brew spots along The First Hundred Miles

Craft beer lovers, rejoice: The Heritage Corridor Ale Trail has returned. This convenient web app connects you to more than a dozen breweries, bars and tasting rooms across The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 and beyond, giving you deep discounts and a shot at some exclusive merch. Here’s everything you need to know.

The Ale Trail Passport web app showcases the best locations to grab a locally brewed beverage, from the southwestern suburbs to Starved Rock Country to the west. The platform allows you to earn prizes by visiting popular establishments like Joliet’s MyGrain Brewing and Wilmington’s Route 66 Old School Brewing, and even gets you exclusive discounts on pours and other specials at these terrific breweries, bars and tasting rooms.

If you visit 16 locations on the trail, make a purchase and “check in” with the app before the season closes Dec. 31, 2023, you’ll receive a free 2023 Heritage Corridor Ale Trail T-shirt, featuring info on each of the participating locations.

But you’re not just earning exclusive merchandise, you’re also supporting small businesses and helping to strengthen Illinois’ exciting and diverse craft beer community. Taking part in the convenient and fun passport program is a great way to show your support, and explore more taprooms along The First Hundred Miles and in neighboring communities.

To start your Ale Trail Passport journey, simply head over to HCDestinations.com/Ale-Trail and click on the 2023 Ale Trail Passport button to start your quick registration process.

Once you’re in the web app, you’ll see that it features brewery bios, hours, maps and website links for the more than 20 participating establishments in the Ale Trail program. Make sure to follow the Heritage Corridor Ale Trail on Facebook for new developments in the program, and to see details on upcoming craft brew events.

When you arrive at a participating location, simply check in on the app. Your phone’s GPS will confirm you’re at the location, and you’ll check one brewery off your list. All participants must be at least 21 years of age.

Here’s a look at some of the participating Ale Trail stops near Route 66.

MyGrain Brewing Co.

50 E. Jefferson St., Suite 106, Joliet, IL

Located in Joliet’s historic downtown, you can’t miss this train station turned brewpub, featuring a breathtaking turn-of-the-last-century facade. You’ll be just as struck by MyGrain’s taproom ambience as their fantastic line of house beers and elevated bar fare. Staple beers named Iron & Steel American IPA and City of Stone Farmhouse Saison show MyGrain’s dedication to preserving the history of the historic community. You’ll also find a full menu featuring starters, salads, burgers and more, alongside a selection of craft cocktails and wines for the non-beer drinkers on your road trip. MyGrain’s local favorite Sunday brunch serves up everything from eggs Benedict to generously cut bacon. On this expansive menu, you’ll even find some gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, too. Don’t miss the full-service brewery and gastropub located directly on Historic Route 66.

Elder Brewing Company

218 E. Cass St., Joliet, IL

Featuring over 14 on-tap selections, as well as some excellent canned beer options, Joliet’s Elder Brewing Company is a comfortable and hip indoor-outdoor taproom space perfect for taking a break on your travels. Popcorn is always free at Elder, and local food delivery is available from several nearby restaurants, giving this space a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. A recently added 1,100-foot event space opened in 2018, directly adjacent to the building, hosting concerts and events.

Mad Hatchet Brewing

913 Brook Forest Ave., Shorewood, IL

Come enjoy the experimental brews being concocted at Shorewood’s Mad Hatchet Brewing. Offering a wide selection of IPAs, stouts and everything in between, Mad Hatchet is sure to have something on tap to please every craft beer fan. Family owned and operated, it offers a friendly taproom-style atmosphere to complement the tasty beers and great service. Looking for a bite to pair with your beer? Mad Hatchet features regular food truck events outside the brewery.

Route 66 Old School Brewing

110 Bridge St., Wilmington, IL

What better way to celebrate a trip along the Mother Road than a stop at the aptly named Route 66 Old School Brewing in Wilmington. Overseen by a silver medal Master Brewer, this 12-tap tasting room offers something for everyone’s palate. You’ll find a line of thoughtfully crafted and delicious beers concocted by Pauly Bidne, founding member of the Joliet Brewers Guild. Beyond a great selection of highly drinkable beers, Route 66 Old School Brewing sports a nostalgic vanilla-colored facade and a comfortable taproom interior. Be sure to pick up a crowler or growler to take home as a souvenir of this popular 66-themed brewery.