We gotcha new Chicago-area breweries … right here … updated, yet!
Editor’s Note: As follow-up to our fun at Good Food Festival, we’re re-posting some of our favorite Beet reports. Nothing we’ve done on the site has been more popular, let alone more all encompassing than Tom Keith’s journey through Chicago area breweries. And he did not stop with this exhaustive bit of drinking. For additional breweries he found see here and here.
Bob Skilnik, in his authoritative book Beer, a History of Brewing in Chicago, reports that there were 43 breweries in Chicago prior to prohibition. By the 1980s, that number was zero. If the majority of new or planned breweries actually come online, the Chicago area will easily exceed the pre-prohibition number.
It’s not hard to see why. The craft brewing segment is growing at a rapid pace. In 2012 craft beers showed a 15% volume increase over the previous year, which saw a 13% increase over the year before that.
And the economics are there. Nano-brewhouses are typically available for less than $10,000. Big craft brewers, in part due to economies of scale, can profitably sell some of their 22 oz. “bomber” bottles for $5 or $6 each at retail, despite the costs of distributors and long distance transportation. By contrast, a small local brewery can self-distribute (meaning the only costs are loading the beers into a van and driving them over to the local accounts), and get $8 -$10 per bottle on retail shelves. The cost of ingredients between the two bottles usually is small, if not nonexistent. So the margins for small craft brewers can be pretty generous.
Here’s a probably incomplete list of new breweries, and breweries-in-planning, in the greater Chicagoland area.
New breweries for 2012
Without a doubt, the most important new guy on the block in 2012 was Pipeworks Brewing, which we previewed here. It’s near the corner of North and Western in Chicago. It was also was rated as the world’s best new brewery by Ratebeer, based on 3 million+ reviews of beers and breweries around the world. Anything from Pipeworks with Ninja or Unicorn on the label is worth seeking out. Look for the 22 oz. bombers. But you’ll have to look hard. While each of Pipeworks’ labels is individually distinctive, there’s no “family feel” to them. (I was buying several Pipeworks beers, and ended up coming home with one beer from Perennial, in St. Louis. Apparently the retailer was arranging beers alphabetically by brewery name, and I couldn’t easily tell where Pipeworks ended and the next guy started.)
On a larger scale, Revolution (whose brewpub we previewed here) opened its 45-barrel production brewery in 2012 at 3340 N. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago, including a tap room overlooking the fermenting tanks and canning lines.
More along the lines of the Pipeworks model, two breweries — Spiteful and Begyle — opened just before the end of 2012.
Spiteful, the brainchild of high school buddies Brad Shaffer and Jason Klein at 1815 W. Berteau Ave. Chicago is making exceptional ales on an extremely small system (which we imagine will be expanded soon). Several of their brews have bicycle-themed names (e.g. Ghost Bike, Bitter Biker) but the name that best demonstrates the attitude behind Spiteful is on its Stout: GFY. Being self-distributed, the beers aren’t in many stores. And even if you’re in a store that carries it, good luck finding it. For some reason, Brad and Jason like to make the logo on their labels surprisingly small.
Begyle, a 15-barrel brewery at 1800 W. Cuyler in Chicago, got its start with a Kickstarter campaign. It hopes to establish a community-supported beer program (similar to farmers’ CSA plans), and will be creating a retail space for bottles, growlers and kegs.
Due to a major brain malfunction on the part of the author, the original post of this article forgot to mention Atlas Brewing Company — a resurrection of an old Chicago brewing name, now a brewpub at 2747 N Lincoln Ave., which opened mid-2012. We wrote about it here. Atlas has been a significant factor in collaborating with other new breweries, helping them get off the ground.
And yet another brain malfunction … apologies to Randy Mosher, friend of The Local Beet, internationally recognized beer authority, and Creative Director at 5 Rabbit Cerveceria in Bedford Park (among many other hats he wears). 5 Rabbit beers have been on the shelves for almost two years now, and we described the brewery’s launch here, but those early beers were contract brewed at a succession of different Midwestern breweries. 5 Rabbit opened its own Bedford Park brewery last fall, with plans for a tap room in the works. Look for a new beer coming soon. According to Randy, “New beer coming very soon is Missionario, a 6.8% white wheat beer with muscat grapes and almonds. Nice winelike aroma, super-creamy almondy finish, with hints of marzipan.” Can you tell Randy’s the author of the book Radical Brewing?
Out in Naperville, Solemn Oath opened in late 2012, focusing on Belgian-style and Barrel-aged beers. Don’t look for it in bottles, though. For now, it’s only available in kegs (i.e. in glasses at select watering holes). There are rumors of a second tap room in Chicago, in West Town or Uptown.
Also, don’t look for bottles anytime soon from Church Street Brewing Company. Itasca’s source for “righteously good beer,” opened in April 2012, is only available on tap at select area taverns. And don’t go looking for Church Street on Church Street, It’s at 1480 Industrial Drive, where you can sample a pint or fill a growler. With a 30 bbl brewhouse, it’s likely to become a significant presence in the on-premise business.
Over in Yorkville, Three Angels opened in late 2012. It’s a nanobrewery, offering kegs only to select outlets, featuring locally grown ingredients whenever possible. Housed in a 1850s era barn, Three Angels plans to add a craft distillery sometime in the future.
Lombard also saw a new brewery opening. Flesk Brewing Company, named after an Irish Castle, is a small brewery producing both kegs and bombers. Brothers Will & James O’Brien, both of whom studied at the Siebel Institute of Technology, are in charge.
Another suburban locale is Nevin’s Brewing Company, a brewpub that opened in December 2012 in southwest suburban Plainfield, in the old Limestone brewery. It’s associated with the Tommy Nevin’s Pubs in Evanston, Frankfort, and Naperville, and presumably will be providing suds for those locations, too.
Also to the south, One Trick Pony is an unprepossessing place in an industrial park in Lansing. Opened Memorial Day 2012, it has a nanobrewery system, with beers named after horse breeds and other horsy accoutrements. The quaint, friendly tap room features Salvation Army and Goodwill-style furniture, and spins vinyl on a 1960’s-era hi-fi.
Even further out, Pig Minds Brewing Co. opened a brewpub at 4080 Steele Dr, in Machesney Park, IL (near Rockford) in mid-2012, featuring a wide variety of beer styles.
Not really a 2012-opened brewery (it opened in October 2011), but still new, is Mundelein’s Tighthead Brewing Company. The wide variety of beers can be sampled in the tap room, or at selected local beer bars.
Nearby, there’s another late-2011 brewery, Light The Lamp Brewery, at 10 N. Lake St. in downtown Grayslake. It’s a hockey-themed brewery, with a tap room that opened in December 2012. (“Light the Lamp” refers to what happens when a goal is scored.)
A mid-2012 opening welcomed Village Vintner Winery & Brewery to Algonquin, at 2380 Esplanade Drive. The restaurant makes its wines, as well as its beers, on the premises.
Also up north, Big Chicago opened late in 2012 in Zion. Russ Sher and Tom Inghram, formerly at the closed Flatlanders brewpub in Lincolnshire, are behind the operation.
Finally, Chicagoans may be surprised that Rolling Meadows Brewery – another that opened in 2012 – is not in Rolling Meadows. It’s a production brewery — no food, no tap room — in Cantrall, IL, near Springfield. Given the region, it’s not surprising that it describes itself as a “farm-based brewery.” Many of its beers are named after a former local resident, the country’s 16th president.
Coming in 2013
By far the biggest news of 2012 was the announcement that Lagunitas Brewing plans to open a massive new brewery in Chicago in late fall, 2013. The Petaluma, California 750 bbl brewery got tired of the cost of shipping its beers across the nation, so decided to open a second brewery, which could top out at 1.7 million barrels (contrast that to some of the other breweries discussed here, at 7 barrels or less.) The tap room, which will be a glassed-in, raised environment 30 feet above the brewery floor, may open as early as July. An interesting factoid — Lagunitas owner Tony Magee — a man of many tweets — famously pointed out that he did the deal for the Chicago brewery at 18th and Rockwell with no city or state incentives. At the time, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium were both pitting East Coast communities against each other to see how much public money and incentives they could get, if they located their (smaller) breweries there.
In my hometown of Evanston, we’ll be going from zero to three breweries in 2013. The largest and most ambitious is Temperance Beer Company (as with Evanston’s craft distiller, FEW Spirits, the name is a reference to Evanston’s historically dry nature, as championed by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and its long-time president, Frances E. Willard). Josh Gilbert, an architect by trade, is heading up the 20 bbl brewery, promising a stylish taproom later in 2013. And Temperance is already making headlines, by signing up the area’s first female brewmaster among the new breweries, Claudia Jendron (who also happens to be a marine biologist).
Two other breweries/brewpubs are also coming to my city. Peckish One (tentative name) is slated to open December 2013. It’s owned by Jamie and Debbie Evans, former owners of Evanston’s Celtic Knot Public House, an Irish Pub. At 623-627 1/2 Howard Street, it’s next door to the well-received craft cocktail bar Ward Eight, and both have been well-subsidized by the City of Evanston, presumably in an effort to gentrify that formerly gritty stretch of the street. A theater space is planned for right down the street, too.
Look for a fall opening for Smylie Bros. — an ambitious brewpub near the city center, in a classic building across Oak Street from the post office. Owner Michael Smylie cites Evanston as a perfect location to brew beer, since the City of Evanston has its own water supply from Lake Michigan — water well suited for brewing (probably to the horror of the city’s historical proponents of temperance and prohibition). (More on Smylie Bros. to come.)
John Laffler from Goose Island, and Dave Bleitner from Two Brothers are building the 20 bbl Off Color Brewing, near the corner of Pulaski and Armitage in Chicago. Given Laffer’s experience as Goose Island’s Director of Innovation, it’s not surprising that Off Color will focus on more obscure beer styles.
Panic Brewing (which we hope doesn’t get into a trademark dispute with Austin, TX’s Don’t Panic Brewing) is building a 30 bbl brewhouse, including a canning line, reportedly with funding from Vienna Beef, the hot dog people. (Although, given that the report was on April Fools’ Day, there may not be much ground meat money going into the operation.) Opening may not make it in 2013 — look to early 2014, instead.
Brothers Steve and Brian Miller are hoping for a summer 2013 opening of Slapshot Brewing Company, “because life would suck without awesome beer.” The 4 bbl brewhouse is under construction, and the announcement of their actual South Side location should be announced within a month.
New Oberpfalz Brewing Company is planning to open in Northwest Indiana in 2013 (no specific dates announced). The focus reportedly will be beers inspired by the Oberpfalz region in Northern Bavaria.
Also in Northwst Indiana, Hunter’s Brewing has just opened at 1535 S Calumet Rd., Chesterton, Indiana. So far, it’s drinks only in the small tap room. Justin Reisetter and Amy Gentry are the owner-brewers, working on a one-barrel system. They’re currently offering a nice variety of eight different beers.
Drew Fox, a brewer at Pipeworks, is planning yet another Northwest Indiana startup, 18th Street Brewery. Drew has been brewing beers in collaboration with friends at Pipeworks and Spiteful, so some of his beers are already showing up around town. In particular, the Sinister Double IPA, brewed at Spiteful, has been getting strong reviews on Ratebeer.com. The planned brick and mortar brewery (with tap room), to be located in Gary, has yet to materialize. However, given that 18th Street has already doubled its Kickstarter goal, we expect news about construction soon.
Empirical Brewery is currently rounding up investors for a late 2013 launch in Chicago. “The Science of Beer” is the rationale behind the name Empirical.
Chicago’s Motor Row — South Michigan Avenue — in the South Loop neighborhood is soon to be home of Broad Shoulders Brewing. A tap room and canned six-pack beer sales are planned. The last time the Broad Shoulders name was associated with beer, it was on several brews from the late Chicago Brewing Company, which ceased operations in the late 1990s.
Also in the planning stages in the South Loop is South Loop Brewing. Not many details are available yet, although they may want to consider the potential conflict with Argus’ brew named “Jimmy Green’s South Loop Lager”.
Bridgeport apparently will be home to Marz Community Brewing, an operation from brothers Ed and Mike Marszewski, co-owners of Maria’s Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St. They’re looking to involve talented homebrewers in their operation, offering “big, interesting beers.” A 2013 official opening sounds optimistic — look for 2014.
Moving much further south, Horse Thief Hollow, a brewpub in the Beverly neighborhood, opened to great crowds early in 2013. The name references the area’s historical role as a stop for thieves who stole horses in Missouri, and were on their way to sell them downtown.
A completely different concept is represented by Hofbräuhaus, in Rosemont, opened in January 2013. A franchised outpost of the original in Munich, it features traditional German beers. It’s likely to be popular with visiting conventioneers
Ale Syndicate Brewers, (formerly New Chicago Brewing) started distributing their beers in March 2013. Founded by brothers Samuel and Jesse Edwin Evans, who previously ran California’s Lucky Hand Brewery (and got tired of California and wanted to move back to family in Chicagoland), are planning “traditional styles with a twist.” Look for their Municipal IPA, made with 100% Cascade as the hop bill, and the Richie Imperial Porter (a vague reference to our former mayor, perhaps?) Their brewery isn’t finished yet, but it’s planned for The Green Exchange, an environmentally friendly complex in Logan Square (and formerly the home of the Frederick Cooper lamp company). A tap room will be included. In the meantime, their beers are being brewed primarily at Galena Brewing, in (obviously) Galena, IL.
Associated with Ale Syndicate, Arcade Brewery is planning a late spring/early summer launch. It bills itself as a community sourced brewery, initially brewing on Ale Syndicate’s 5 bbl system, and then moving to the 30 bbl system in 2014. They’re promising a Scotch Ale named for William Wallace as one of their first offerings, to be sold both in kegs and bottles.
Eric McNeil is another former homebrewer scaling up. His production brewery, named Strange Pelican, will be located at Fulton and Damen in Chicago.
According to Chicago Magazine’s e-mail blast named Dish, the people behind my favorite beer bar in Evanston, Prairie Moon, will be opening a nanobrewery called Mad Mouse Brewing, inside a restaurant, Moxee, at 724 W. Maxwell Street in the University Village neighborhood. Look for it late this summer. Also, quoting Dish, “if you’re keeping track of all the new brewing operations, you should really just stop before you make yourself crazy.” Sorry, Dish. You’re too late for me …
Lake Effect Brewing, with hops growing up the side of its building on West Montrose Ave., started selling beer out of its small 7 bbl brewhouse around the first of the year 2013. One of its more interesting brews is a collaboration with Dryhop Brewing, called “I Shot a Man in Simcoe.” It’s a Belgian IPA, using the currently hot hop variety referenced in its name.
Speaking of Dryhop Brewers, it will be a gastropub in the Lakeview neighborhood, opening June 13. In the meantime, Dryhop’s proprietor, Greg Shuff, has been collaborating on brews with several of the area’s newer, but already operational breweries. It will be a 70-seat operation, including a nanobrewery.
Another of those collaborating with Dryhop is Une Année Brewing. Hoping for a late 2013 opening, the 7.5 bbl brewery will focus on Belgian and French style beers, and will be located in Chicago at Hubbard and Ashland – not far from Goose Island’s production brewery. No restaurant or taproom is planned, at least initially.
Ten Ninety Brewing is also going the collaboration route, initially brewing its high-alcohol beers at Church Street in Itasca. The name Ten Ninety references the original gravity reading of its brews — 1.090. (A normal, sessionable beer would clock in closer to 1.040.) Higher original gravity almost always translates to high alcohol content. The beers are also brewed with a twist. For example, Ten Ninety’s Imperial Porter is brewed with cayenne pepper and pomegranate juice.
Inspired by a dog named Sadie, 4 Paws Brewery plans to open a 15 bbl brewery later this year on Wolcott Ave. in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to animal shelters or animal hospitals.
Coming in June 2013, Urban Legend Brewing Company, in Westmont is currently building a 7 bbl brewery and taproom. They promise an alternative to overly hoppy beers.
And over in Lemont, there’s talk of Brew Hounds Beer Company opening late this year in Old Town Square. They’re planning a brewery and tap room.
BuckleDown Brewing, in Lyons, has two beers out — Fiddlesticks, a Belgian IPA, and Belt & Suspenders, an American IPA. Look for a taproom to open this summer.
And, thanks to Only Child Brewery in Northbrook for letting us know about their forthcoming operation. They have a building, They’re promising “sessionable, drinkable beers that offer unique interpretations on popular styles. All beer will be bottle conditioned and available in large bottle format.” They should begin showing up on retail shelves this summer (guessing late summer, at the earliest).
Another west suburban brewery-in-planning we overlooked in the original post of this article is Penrose Brewing, of Geneva. Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs are planning a relatively large 40 bbl brewhouse, to open this fall, including a tasting room and growler sales (the latter pending the beneficence of the City of Geneva’s fine public servants). Belgian and barrel-aged beers will be the focus. They’ll start with kegs, then follow up with bottles.
Derailed Brewing is planning a mid-late 2013 commercial startup; in the meantime they’re still meeting with potential investors and scouting locations, mostly on Chicago’s Northwest side. We hope the fact that Flossmoor Station and Pennsylvania’s Erie Brewing Company, among others, already have beers named Derailed in their lineup won’t be a trademark problem for Derailed in Chicago. Update: Yes, there were trademark problems. Derailed is now called Low Rez Brewing.
Knight & Gunner Brewing Company is planning a mid 2013 opening date. However, as of recently, they had yet to locate a site for the brewery, making that timing rather aggressive. As a production brewery, they plan to make small batches of ales & lagers, in virtually every popular style.
Chain O’ Lakes Brewing is planning on opening as a brewpub soon in 2013, in the historic McHenry Brewery, dating from 1868, in the city of McHenry.
Nearby in McHenry is My Three Sons Brewing. They off unfiltered, unpasteurized, bottle-conditioned beers, but that’s about al we know about them for now.
Also up north, Waukegan will be getting its first brewery since prohibition. Beer-vangelist Larry Bloom is planning to open Zumbier this summer, including a small tap room, growler fills and tours. With a 4 bbl system, don’t expect the beers everywhere, but it’s a great excuse for a trip to Waukegan.
In Plainfield, homebrew shop Chicago Brew Werks has plans to use its equipment to establish a nanobrewery, self-distributing locally.
Aleman, a hopeful brewpub, won an Iron Brew homebrew competition, and got to collaborate with Two Brothers and Stone at the latter’s facility in Escondido California. The resulting brew, marketed by Stone, was Dayman Coffee IPA, which received good reviews. However, Aleman’s Kickstarter campaign failed. Still, as they’re reporting, “Aleman is conservatively six months away from opening a production brewery in the Portage Park area. The Brewpub will follow shortly thereafter.” In the meantime, look for their collaborations at various venues during Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 16 – 26).
Update: In Ravenswood , Band of Bohemia, will be a restaurant and bar, and also manufacture and sell beer on-site. Craig Sindelar, of the restaurant Alinea, and Mike Carroll from Half Acre, are still seeking zoning variances for their site near the intersection of Ravenswood and Leland avenues.
In Oswego, Misfit Craft Brewery is seeking financing and a site. The possibility of a 2013 opening is certainly not guaranteed.
Back in the Southwest suburbs, Blue Nose Brewery in Justice is hoping for a July 2013 opening with a 10 bbl system. However, their Kickstarter campaign fell far short of its goal, so we’ll see what its fate is as the year goes on.
We don’t know much about Nomad Brewing, although it’s apparently in the works. Reportedly, “Nomad Brewing” was trademarked by Lush Wine & Spirits.
Similarly, we don’t have many details about Middle Brow Beer Company. It wants to target homebrewers, giving them an opportunity to have their recipes brewed commercially. In their words, “we hope one day to open our own brewing space.” We’re guessing a 2013 commercial start is optimistic.
Low Dive is currently a home brewery, with commercial aspirations. While there’s been talk of a 2013 launch, we’re skeptical.
Other Beer Operations
Not quite breweries, but with products that may show up on retail shelves:
Berghoff Beers, a historic Chicago beer name formerly produced at Minhas Craft Brewers in Monroe, WI, is getting a makeover. Beginning in June, the reformulated beers will be made at Point Brewery in Stevens Point Wisconsin, based on new recipes developed by brewing experts Randy Mosher and John Hannfan.
Another name with historic Chicago connections, Baderbrau Brewing Company, has been resurrected, under the supervision of Rob Sama and Joe Berwanger. The Chicago Pilsener is available in all Binny’s Beverage Depot locations, and on tap at more than 20 destinations around Chicagoland. It’s also brewed at Point, but has plans to open its own brewery in 2014.
Chicago Beer Company supplies beers “brewed and bottled for you, Chicago.” They’re another brewed at Point Brewery. They’ve been especially successful at gaining broad distribution for their competent but unremarkable beers (in this author’s opinion).
Hopothesis Beer Company launched an IPA early this year, brewed at Minhas. I was unimpressed with it, due to its lack of balance between hops and malt. Ratebeer raters agreed, giving it 22 points out of a possible 100. But kudos to the Hopothesis team for avoiding trademark disputes with Freetail, in Austin, Texas, which has an established line of beers using the Hopothesis name.
Rich Szydlo is also going the contract brewing route for his Big Shoulders Beer Company. His first beer, Hopapalooza IPA, has been brewed at Church Street in Itasca; down the road he plans to have his beers brewed at Big Chicago in Zion. Look for Hopapalooza to begin appearing at the end of May.
There may be others. If you know of any, or if you can fill in any details on any of the breweries listed here, please leave a comment.