Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lagunitas Brewing to Open Chicago Brewery

That's right.  Lagunitas is coming to Chicago.  This story is big news as it helps Chicago establish itself as one of the true craft beer meccas in the U.S.  Story after the jump. 

(Crain's) — Tony Magee, a Chicago native and owner of Lagunitas Brewing Co., put a head on the craft beer world when he announced plans on Twitter to open a brewery in Douglas Park, his first outside California.

The facility, with an annual capacity of 150,000 barrels initially, would occupy part of a former Ryerson Inc. steel-processing plant on the city's Southwest Side. The space is now used primarily by Cinespace Chicago Film Studio.

Alex Pissios, Cinespace's manager, said he has signed a letter of intent to lease property to the Petaluma, Calif.-based brewer. Among bigger craft beer makers in the U.S., Lagunitas was the fastest-growing last year, with sales up 53 percent from 2010, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

Mr. Magee announced his plan to 6,380 followers in a string of 140-character posts on Twitter late Monday night.

Born in Chicago and raised in Arlington Heights, Mr. Magee said he checked out the site in early March. He said the proposed site is on the back lot of the property that's “too close to the railroad for filming.”

Among the first to pick up the news was beer blog BeerPulse.com.

Mr. Magee told the Chicago Tribune that he expects capacity for the $15 million to $18 million brewery to grow to 600,000 barrels eventually.

Mr. Magee said hasn't decided on staffing the brewery but downplayed any chance of a Chicago-based brew master. “I have a feeling we're going to end up hiring people from out of town,” he said. “It would be wrong to come here and poach. I wouldn't feel too good about that.”

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