It’s no secret that people in Chicago drink a lot of beer. The hard part is choosing just one type of beer.
In a sign that Midwestern taste buds are rapidly evolving, “Chicago beer drinkers' palates are becoming more educated, becoming more diverse" says Pete Crowley, president of Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and owner of Haymarket Pub & Brewery in Chicago. “The majority of people (craft brewers) are in it because they are passionate about beer, passionate about flavors and passionate about being a local brand.”
Lagunitas Brewing Company has had its eyes set on Chicago for a while. The California-based brewery is now in the process of expanding into a 300,000 square- foot warehouse on the city’s Southwest side. "This brewery will serve all of the eastern United States from Denver to…all the way to Key West,” says Lagunitas CEO Tony Magee.
In fact, craft brewing is happening at such a rapid pace, newcomers are quickly finding out how much demand really exists. Two years ago, Revolution Brewing started out as a brewpub. A year and a half later Revolution opened a five million dollar production facility in Chicago with plans to distribute beer to Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana by the end of this year.
Chicago is also home to North America's oldest brewing school, the Siebel Institute of Technology. Established in 1868 before the Great Chicago fire, the famous brew lab stilll attracts aspiring brewer entrepreneurs from around the world.
“Pretty much every brewer around the world knows who we are and our reputation for instruction,” according to Keith Lemcke, vice president at Siebel Institute.
For those beer lovers who think there is stiff competition between craft brewers, industry veteran Pete Crowley says think again. "We are all a big family. We help each other out. I think there's an exponential room for growth and more brands because we aren't competing with each other. We are competing with imported brands and mass produced brands."
Here are some great Chicago-area craft brewers to look out for:
11314 S. Front Avenue
Chicago, IL 60628
Atlas Brewing Company
2747 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago IL 60614
Dry Hop Brewers
3155 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
OPENING SPRING 2013
Goose Island Beer Co.
1800 West Fulton St.
Chicago, IL 60612
Half Acre Beer Company
4257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
737 W. Randolph
Chicago, IL 60661
Revolution Beer LLC
2323 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647