Chain O' Lakes Brewing Company

About Us

Step one foot into Chain-O-Lakes Brewing in McHenry, Illinois and there is no doubt that the owner is a veteran and proud Marine.  Abbreviated COL, the tap room at the brewery is adorned with flags, photos and Marine Corps memorabilia everywhere.  So, proud is he that on Friday night anyone wearing a red shirt gets a dollar off their beers.

Owner Curt Ames retired as a Colonel from the Marine Corp after 30 years of service.  His passion for brewing quality beer started back in 1987 with small batch home brews.  After 15 or so years in the Corp and home brewing he started thinking that brewing may be what he wanted to do after retirement.  Constantly threatening his friends with opening a brewery they finally put him up to it and he delivered.

About Us

Prior to retirement in 2010 Curt volunteered at breweries in Virginia to better learn the trade and how to brew on a larger scale.

“There was never a fear of failure.  I knew that my business model would work.  The hardest part was raising the capital to get started, so I bounced around for a while, learning what I could, “Curt said.

In 2012 Curt & Linda secured the historic McHenry Brewery, bought some used brewing equipment from a closed brewery in California and had it shipped to its present home in Illinois.  And Chain O’Lakes Brewing came to life.  The site for the brewery was formerly the McHenry Brewing Company that operated from 1868 until closing the doors in the 1940s.

While Curt and his wife Linda love their lives as brewers and entrepreneurs it is hard to completely walk away from a life they lived for 30 years.  That is why the Marines and all the Veterans have a special place in the taproom.


As for the beer, COL offers five varieties nightly and usually have a couple of guest beers from local breweries on tap.  The barrel aged double bock is fantastic and their most popular draft is the Fox River Scotch Ale.  We don’t bottle ourbeer as of now so everything is draft and available to go in growlers.   We also do seasonal brews as the calendar dictates.

If you want something to go they offer 32 oz. grumblers, $7 for the bottle and $7 for the fill and also half gallon growlers that run $9 for the bottle and $13 for the fill.

Stop at the tap room and sample everything they have.  From the Colonel’s WIPA, at 7.1% ABV to the Scotch Ale at 5% ABV we have lots of flavors with enough punch to make sure you leave feeling good.

Weekly events



Vinyl Night

Bring your favorite album or just come in and enjoy some  real music to go with our real beer



B.E.E.R Mug & Game Night

Join the Brewery Enlightened Erudite Revivalists for games in the tap room



Red Shirt Friday 

We wear Red Proudly on Fridays to say we Remember Everyone Deployed who is fighting for our Freedoms



Local Live Band

Local live bands featured the first Friday of every month.

live music & Special events


June 2nd  - First Friday Live With Genevieve Hayward

June 3rd - Taste of Summer and Live Music by The Thompson Duo

June 5th - COL at McHenry Cruise Night

June 16th  - Dani Lampi Live

July 7th - First Friday Live with Eddie Beavers

July 22nd - Fiesta Days Beer Day with The Mississippi Stranglers and Blind Spot

July 23rd - Fiesta Day Parade in the Biergarten (12-4)

August 4th - First Friday Live with Katie’s Kids and GenR8tor

August 18 - Razzvio Brewery Tour 2017

August 25th - 4X Anniversay with Panic Switch

September 1st - First Friday Live with Genevieve Hayward

Septeber 2nd - Keith Harkin Live at Brewery Corner

September 11th - COL at McHenry Cruise Night

September 21st - Mississippi Strangler Live  & COL Beer Live in Veterans Memorial Park 

September 23rd - Oktoberfest in the Biergarten

October 6th - First Friday Live with Lara Bell

October 7th - Flavors of Fall Taste Fest

November 10th - USMC Birthday Cake Cutting Ceremony

November 18th - Downtown Christmas Walk

November 19th - Toys for Tots Parade Celebration (10-4)

Vendors & Parties

Confirmed Vendors

-  Johnny & Elles Creole Italian Kitchen 

- Your Sister’s Tomatoe

- MJ’s Coffee

Visit us in Veterans Memorial Park on select Thursdays for the City of McHenry City Concert Series from June - September

Plus more dates, bands and vendors to come.....

Having a Party?

Share the Taproom and Chain O’Lakes Beer by hosting your event in the Taproom. Want to set yourself up in the tap room for your next event? Come talk to us during regular business hours to get it squared away. It is only $100 as a deposit, which we waive if your group does $400 in sales. Happiness is Beer Again…..

B.E.E.R. Club


When you enter a brewery, you are the kind of person that wants to be involved more, be on the inside, know what is what. Well, we are the same way, so we had to do something about it for our own taproom. 

No, we aren't a mug club, or a can club, or anything like that. We know what it is that brought you here, or to any brewery, so that is why we here at Chain O'Lakes Brewing Company call it the BEER Club, which stands for Brewery Enlightened and Erudite Revivalists. You appreciate the culture, the product, and the people behind it, and we want to reward that. 

Membership Includes:

Growler bag & Growler with fill

$1 off Beers (in your glass on Thursdays)

$1 off Growler/Grumbler Fills (in you BEER Growler/Grumbler on Saturdays)

Growler fill card

10% off Brewery Swag

Seasonal Release Parties

Existing Member Renewal $30 

Existing Members who want to guarantee their place as a Revivalist receive the $30 re-activation fee. 

Contact Us

Better yet, see us in person!

We love our customers, so feel free to visit during normal business hours.

Chain O' Lakes Brewery Company

3425 Pearl St, McHenry, Illinois 60050, United States

(815) 331-8345


Wednesday & Friday: 4-9

Thursday : 4-8

Saturday: 12-8

Monday/Tuesday: Closed except for Private Parties

Sunday: Only open when McHenry has a Parade