In case you don’t follow Lagunitas Brewing Company’s CEO, the Chicago born-and-bred Tony Magee on Twitter, tonight is the new Douglas Park brewery’s grand opening for its tap room & beer sanctuary at 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave. in Chicago. The tap room entrance is through a cool high-tech, LED-lit tunnel that has programmable colors. Yowza! Should be quite a party — there’s a live band scheduled, but you never know: Magee’s own garage band, Alice Drinks The KoolAid, may jam as well (the group played one of the side stages during the recent Chicago Blues Festival). Tour hours for the new brewhouse, meanwhile, are Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am-9pm. Mondays and Tuesdays will be reserved for private parties, charity events, etc.
Lagunitas-Chicago has the largest brewery in the state now, which has resulted in the creation of thousands of local jobs, says a very happy Gov. Pat Quinn, who was at the chain-cutting ceremony last week. The brewery is over on the former Ryerson Steel campus, in a warehouse under long-term lease from Cinestage Chicago, a rentable film production facility that shares the campus.
It’s fitting that a brewery should be returning to the area and continuing a proud Czech brewing tradition, given that back in the day, the Pilsen Brewing Company was the toast of the Bohemian part of the South Lawndale neighborhood (of which the Douglas Park area is but one section). Pilsen Park, named for the brewery, was right across the street at 26th Street and Albany Avenue. Now there’s nothing but a parking lot and cheap discount mall where both stood, if you don’t count the huge Little Village welcome gate nearby that looms over 26th Street but a few doors west (you can read about this and other bygone Chicago breweries here).
Equipment for Lag-Chi’s second brewhouse should be arriving later this year in November. Once that’s up and running, Lagunitas could be one of the largest craft brewers in the state, maybe the Midwest (an estimated 1.5 billion barrels a year are nothing to sneeze at). It’s already the largest in the city (sorry, Goose Island, but you sold out to Anheuser-Busch! Seriously). And the Lagunitas tap room is already a huge success. You go, dudes and dudettes!
Until next time,
your scribe Marie