Some of the Beer Places We Lost (And Gained) in 2020

Some of the Beer Places We Lost (And Gained) in 2020
The historic Argus Brewery Building. Source: Argus Brewery.

Maybe we would need a summary of the places that have closed down in 2020 after all. We have seen a lot of change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic: some beer places had to close to public service entirely, or reopen at greatly diminished capacity.

Some have been able to make the “pivot” to delivery service for food and beer, as state authorities made it clear they could “look the other way” for reasonable alcohol deliveries. Some brewers, bars and restaurants were able to set up outdoor seating where they had adjacent space, others managed to stay open for carryout with crowlers, growlers, and with canning lines called into service.

But many places could not keep up with the reduced customer flow. Some closed down completely, while others announced “hopefully temporary” closures. And many establishments that stayed opened were obliged to shut down for a few days at a time when an employee tested positive for exposure to the virus.

Here are the brewers and serving establishments that we lost during 2020:

Before the lockdown was instituted in March, Fischman Public House closed down in January. They had moved to Six Corners in 2018, but were unable to see redevelopment promised for the area.

RAM Restaurant & Brewery closed all locations in Illinois.

Craftworks, the parent company of Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, Old Chicago and other restaurant chains, laid off all of its 18,000 employees on March 31. They were bought out by SPB Hospitality in June, reopened locations in the fall, but closed down again when the current lockdown restriction went into effect.

Printer’s Row Brewing in March announced they were closing on a permanent location in Portage Park, but have not been heard from since then.

The Northman Beer and Cider Bar sold its North Lincoln Ave location, which was reopened as “The Cobblestone,” and is now closed for the season. Northman retains a Riverwalk cafe which may yet return in the spring.

Figure Eight Brewing of Valparaiso closed in February, well before the lockdown business began. Scallywag Brewing in Westmont also closed in February, after little over one year in business.

Viking Artisan Ales logoCognito Brewing in Merrilville closed, but their space was taken over by Viking Artisan Ales.

5 Rabbit had announced plans to close their Bedford Park brewery and seek a smaller space, perhaps with a co-brewing or contract brewing space. At this time, their original operation remains in full swing.

Three Floyds had closed their brewpub over the summer, then decided in December to make the closing permanent. Their production brewery remains in operation.

Argus Brewery closed its next-to-Pullman brewery in April, its property, equipment and trademarks are for sale. Grumpy Goat tavern in Elgin also closed in April.

Guthrie’s Tavern on Southport closed in July. Nearby Schoolyard Tavern shuttered in October.

Ballast Point closed its near West side taproom in October, leaving only a faint hope of a return.

Fountainhead closed its bar in Chicago in October, though its retail food market remains open.

Hamburger Mary, an LGBQT+ oriented chain, closed its Chicago location. This location spun off its own brewery, which became Andersonville Brewing, and is now a taproom for Urban Brew Labs. A second brewery spinoff, Oak Park Brewing Co. continues in operation.

Shelton Brothers, a major importer of smaller craft imports, shut down in November, owing to decreased sales and a lawsuit against River North of Chicago.

Band of Bohemia

Band of Bohemia. Chicago Tribune photo by Antonio Perez.

Band of Bohemia, the first Michelin-starred brewery, had closed over the summer after allegations of sexual harassment and other HR problems. By October, they declared bankruptcy and are now being evicted from their building.

Revolution Brewing closed service at their Milwaukee Ave. brewpub and furloughed its staff. But perhaps leaving it open to return in the spring.

Blue Nose Brewery in Hodgkins closed as of January 1.

But in the midst of a difficult economic situation  things go on:

The ownership of Imperial Oak bought out the historic dive bar Brixie’s in Brookfield, and is currently renovating it into a tap room and possible second Imperial Oak brewing site.

More Brewing Co. expended to a second location in Huntley, Noon Whistle to Naperville.

Art History Brewing opened in Geneva and Urban Forest in opened Rockford in May.

Crushed by Giants opened in Streeterville in April. Because of their second-story location, they had no space to set up outdoor seating, so are currently closed.

The BJ’s Brewhouse chain  got approved by the Orland Park Village Board to build its first location in the former Toys “R” Us plaza late in April, no progress on that at this time.

Goldfinger in Downers Grove opened in July, as did Obscurity Brewing & Craft Mead in Elburn.

Nik & Ivy opened in Lockport in August. Also that month, Liquid Love took over the Prairie Krafts brewery in Buffalo Grove.

Seipp Extra Pale Lager hit taps and shelves, made by Metropolitan Brewing

Scandinavian style brewer Ørkenoy opened in September. Odious Cellars, a funk-focused brewery, started up at the Pilot Project incubator in September, and is planning for a taproom on Armitage.

Thornton Lager, another historic brand, was revived by Thornton Distilling, but made at Evil Horse Brewing Co. However, the rollout seems to be put off for now.

In September Phase Three opened their taproom in the former Lake Zurich Brewing Co.

Black Lung Brewery in Waukegan completed a crowdfunding campaign to open their own brewery and taproom in Round Lake Beach.

Kishaukee Brewing Co. in Woodstock opened in October.

Milk Money Brewing made it to their grand opening in December. The food-focused brewpub had a difficult gestation during the shutdown, but is now open for carryout with meal and beer packages.

These are just the comings and goings I found while going through my stories for the year. I may have missed a few, and may add to this later.

Filed under: Beer News

Tags: Annual review, COVID-19

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