[UPDATED 1/19/12, see below]
A commenter had this to say on Reddit after reading our 2011 wrap-up post:
I love Chicago, but really think the craft beer scene here kind of sucks.
Yikes…get out much? Here’s hoping you can find something that doesn’t suck in 2012, avisnova. And here’s your guide for what’s new and exciting. This is, to the best of our knowledge, a complete list of breweries that have made their local commercial ambitions known to the world. Did we miss something? Let us know.
Probable 2012 Local Brewery Openings
We called New Chicago Beer Co. (fb.com | @newchicagobeer) our most exciting prospect of 2012. This is the Evans brothers’ brewery opening in the Plant in Back of the Yards you should have read about by now. Get with it.
Broad Shoulders Brewing is a new Motor Row joint from Goose Island and Lakefront alum Frank Lassandrello.
Solemn Oath Brewing (@solemnoathbeer) is a Naperville venture by Rock Bottom Lombard alum Tim Marshall and his friend John Barley–seriously, that’s his name. The city council removed the last major legal hurdle this fall by amending its liquor code for a production brewery and retail shop with tastings and tours, but no food. Think Half Acre.
[UPDATED 1/4/12] Flatlander’s has started dismantling its brewery to ship to a new north-suburban production brewery called Old Chicago Beer Company. Russ Sher of Flatlander’s told me via email today that the plan is for Old Chicago to become “the premier contract brewer in the midwest.” He anticipates opening in April with a dozen accounts, including Flatlander’s. Bottling and canning will be available. More details to come later this month.
[UPDATED 1/4/12] Misfit Craft Brewery (@misfitcraftbrew) is hoping to win approval to build a brewery in the old Oswego firehouse. If special purpose approval is recommended by the zoning commission and granted by the village board, plans could get rolling to open in October. Pilot batches and tasting panels are in progress.
Possible 2012 and Beyond Local Brewery Openings
[UPDATED 1/19/12] Admiral Sasquatch (fb.com | @adm_sasquatch) is honing recipes and winning in the best name category, but they’ve gone dark since June. They call themselves a “proto-brewery.” Reminds me of my ex calling me a proto-human, but more exciting.
[UPDATED 1/7/12] Last Bay Brewing has a unique idea: start out gypsy brewing big batches of staple beers and sell them at growler-filling stations around town, all of which have nanobreweries for one-offs. No public activity from these guys recently, seems to be very much in the idea phase.
[UPDATED 1/4/12] The guys planning Lake Effect Brewing (fb.com | @lakeeffect_llc)are touring Europe tasting classic styles as I write this. They are scouting locations for a nanobrewery to open in 2012. There’s a good amount of style and recipe information posted on their site.
Off Key Brewing was greeted enthusiastically by the Oak Park municipal government for its nanobrewery plans, but is apparently on hold.
Powell Brew House apparently has a space at Milwaukee and Western and will brew a batch of beer for your event or collaborate on a brew with you.
Oval Brewing (@ovalbrewing) has worked out preliminary label designs and brewed batches of sports-themed beers on an impressive digital-control pilot system they built themselves. The plan here seems to be nanobrewery as well.
Big Dick Brewery puts dildos on their tap handles at events. No joke. Their name is a good indicator of how seriously they take their self-promotion efforts. Don’t expect this one to come to fruition anytime soon.
Expansions and Relocations
Revolution Brewing is building out its production brewery near Addison and Kedzie, where they plan to start packaging bombers in May and cans in July.
Three Floyds is in the middle of a major expansion.
Half Acre bought out the building it had been leasing in October and will maximize the entire space to grow production to about 15,000 barrels per year.
[UPDATED 1/4/12] 5 Rabbit has a brewhouse and fermenters on order and is planning to open its own production brewery this year. A lease on a bottling line is almost secured, but the location itself has not been pinned down yet. Watch for an interview with Randy Mosher here in the next few days with more details.
Hopleaf is growing, but not losing its charm.