Lagunitas makes the leap to Chicago

Californian craft brewery Lagunitas’ new venture in Chicago’s west side is set to open fully by the end of the month.

Tony Magee founder and CEO of Lagunitas Brewing Co. shakes hands with governor Pat Quinn, after signing a book for him, during a tour of the new Lagunitas tap room. Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Tony Magee founder and CEO of Lagunitas Brewing Co. (left) shakes hands with the governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, after signing a book for him, during a tour of the new Lagunitas tap room. Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Lagunitas is one of the US’s leading craft breweries, renowned for its highly hopped ales and now it has expanded its operations to the east of the country with a new 300,000 square foot brewery, bar and restaurant in the old Ryerson Steel Complex of Chicago’s Douglas Park neighbourhood.

When finished the new brewery will have 120 fermenters and produce around 1.5 million barrels of beer a year – making it one of the largest craft breweries in the US.

The taproom itself is 4,000 square feet and has a capacity of around 300. A series of raised walkways allow visitors to the bar to stroll above and around the brewery which is adjacent.

Lagunitas founder, Tony Magee (who was in fact born in Chicago), told the Chicago Tribune that the design of the taproom with its long trestle tables was designed to create a sense of “community”.

“That’s why there are the long tables and the long bar,” he said. “I want people to sit with people they don’t know. That’s when interesting things occur.”

The new brewery has already begun brewing Lagunitas staples such as “A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, DayTime IPA, A Little Sumpin Extra!, IPA, Pils and Maximus imperial IPA and there have been hints that a Chicago-specific beer may be on the cards for the future. 

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