Here are some of the news items about local brewers that got pushed aside as I was trying to keep up with Chicago Craft Beer Week:
The announcement in April that California brewer Lagunitas would build a 250-barrel expansion brewery in Chicago had prematurely assumed that a lease for the space was already signed. We were wrong on that score. But an article by Josh Noel in the May 22 Tribune announced that Lagunitas owner Tony Magee has formally signed a 20-year lease for a former steel plant building at 18th and Rockwell Streets, just south of Ogden Ave. The property is one of several in that block owned by Cinespace, the studio where the HBO series “Boss” is filming, as well as the short-lived NBC show “The Playboy Club.”
The brewhouse’s capacity would surpass every other brewer in Chicago combined, and is expected to be running by October, 2013. The Noel article has an e-mail from Magee saying that they will try to get a taproom open this November. That facility is planned for a mezzanine area, with clear walls on all sides so patrons can watch the brewery being built.
The Latin-infused 5 Rabbit Brewing has announced they will have their own production brewery in southwest suburban Bedford Park, near Midway Airport.
5 Rabbit had planned for its own facility from the beginning. In the meantime, the principals, Isaac Showaki, Andres Arays and Randy Mosher, also encounterd problems finding a contract brewer with enough capacity and consistency to make the beers, resulting in them moving production among six different contract brewers in three states. The new home is in an industrial area at 6398 W. 74th St., near Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire.
According to another article by Josh Noel, plans call for the facility to be running by August, with a taproom coming later this year, or early in 2013.
Big Chicago Brewing Company expects to fire up the kettles in August at their new contract and private label brewing facility at 2701 Deborah Ave. in Zion. Just to play catchup, Big Chicago was originally Flatlander’s Restaurant & Brewery, which closed its brewpub in Lincolnshire in January and announced it would split operations to a new restaurant, and separate brewery in Mundelein. Plans for the restaurant’s location are on hold now, and before they could sign for their Mundelein location, they decided they would need a bigger space. The new operation was called Old Chicago, but had to be changed as it was also the name for a string of non-brewing beer bars owned by Gordon Biersch.
The new brewery’s building was erected in the 1890’s for the Zion Lace factory, and most recently held a haunted house attraction. The original 15 bbl equipment from Flatlander’s will be joined by a 30 bbl system, giving it an initial capacity of 700 barrels per month. Flatlander’s-branded beers will be produced for the restaurant when it opens, and for retail.
When Limestone Brewing Company closed its brewpub in a Plainfield strip mall, the site was under consideration for a new restaurant from Steve Cin, co-owner of the Tommy Nevin’s Pub chains. Problems with the transaction because of damage done to the restaurant so Limestone could remove its bulky brewing equipment. But early in May, Cin’s group purchased the location, North Plainfield Crossing Mall, outright at a bankruptcy auction. The new facility is to be named Public Brewing Company, according to Naperville Patch. Opening is expected for late summer or early fall.
Limestone, meantime, is still working to reopen its brewpub in Aurora, near the Fox Valley Mall, this summer. No official announcement has been made, yet.
Add these development to previous news from this spring, and we have a bustling beer scene here in Chicago: Three Floyds expanding its capacity, Revolution opening a separate production brewery while Half Acre plans its own tap room, plus new launches by Solemn Oath, Light the Lamp and Dryhop, and the revival of Baderbräu.