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Lagunitas Chicago's Taproom and Restaurant Opens Today

By Sarah Freeman
June 25, 2014
Photo by: Nick Murway

You've no doubt heard of Lagunitas, the hoppy IPA and cheeky Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ that saturate the Chicago beer market despite the brewery being located in California. Well, that beloved brew just got a lot closer with the opening of the company's new brewery and taproom. When founder Tony Magee, a Chicago native, was ready to expand production he looked to his hometown to take on what would be one of the city’s most ambitious beer projects to date.

While the brewery opened several weeks ago, the taproom officially opened to the public today. The 4,000-sq.-ft. taproom seats 300 at a mix of wood picnic tables and concrete bar (conveniently outfitted with outlets because the location of the facility is anything but convenient out in North Lawndale). Windows take up two sides of the taproom and look into the brewery that cost $25-million and two years to build.

The taproom is opening with Lagunita’s signature lineup of beers — DayTime, NightTime, Pils, Censored, Maximus, Little Sumpin' Extra, Lagunitas Sucks, Dogtown Pale, Cappuccino Stout and Imperial Stout — but will soon expand to 32 drafts. Beers will be pours Wednesday though Sunday from 11 AM-9 PM. The taproom is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to allow non-profits to use the space free of charge. Brewery tours will be held sporadically for the first couple of week and then regularly at 1, 3 and 5 PM on Wednesday though Friday as well as every half hour starting at 1 PM on Saturdays and Sundays until 4 PM.

In addition to beer, the taproom opens with a beer-driven food menu complete with beer mussels, soft pretzels with IPA beer cheese as well as veal or pork brats slow-cooked in Fractional IPA. The house burger is made with a mix of brisket, short-rib and sirloin that can either be char-grilled or griddled “diner-style.” For dessert, Lagunitas keeps the beer theme flowing with imperial stout ice cream float as well as chocolate cappuccino stout tiramisu.

The brewery itself is a behemoth — easily the largest in the city, with the ability to produce a million barrels per year. Catwalks above the facility allow guests to peer over at the 750-barrel fermenters, miles of piping and bottling line that can clean, fill, cap and label 450 bottles per minute. In addition to the impressive facility is an equally notable female headbrewer, Mary Bauer. Her beers will supply all Lagunitas markets east of Colorado.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The taproom

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Taproom employees prepare for their first night of service.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Shiny new lineup of tap handles

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Beer...duh

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The view of the taproom form the catwalk

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Big tanks

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Really big tanks

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The busy bottling line

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Lots of beer ready to head out the door to thirsty Chicagoans

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Brewers and staff relax under what might be the biggest indoor sign we've ever seen

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