The city's Southwest Side just got a whole lot boozier. Lagunitas' much-anticipated Chicago brewery opened its doors for a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning at the Douglas Park site at 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave. — officially throning itself Chicago's largest brewery. Governor Pat Quinn joined the beer company's top brass at the circus-themed event, complete with dudes on stilts and hula hoop tricks. A horn band led the noisy, beer-fueled tour through the new place. Construction on the 300,000 square foot facility began just about a year ago at the former Ryerson Steel plant, currently owned by film studio Cinespace.
"I'm not the greenest person in the world, but I'm a pragmatist and I know reusing things is more efficient," Lagunitas founder and owner Tony Magee said at the event. "When it comes to brewing, we're growing very, very rapidly, so rather than put up shiny new structures, we spent the money on shiny new beer equipment."
And shiny new beer equipment certainly abounds. The site will ultimately brew more than 1.5 million barrels of Lagunitas beer each year, according to the company. The new 300-seat taproom is elevated in the middle of it all, letting visitors look down on how beer is made, bottled and prepped for shipping while sitting picnic-table style. It will officially open to the public on June 25.
— Megan Graham