DOUGLAS PARK — The cosmos were on his side for Lagunitas second brewery in Chicago, owner Tony Magee said.
“I think the universe wanted us to be there. It’s a cool area,” he said of Lagunitas future site.
The brewery will be opening on the border of Little Village at South Rockwell Street and West 15th Street, or as Magee calls it, “the extreme West Loop.”
Magee, who grew up in Arlington Heights, left Illinois in 1987 to move to California. He started Lagunitas in 1993.
While he did look at potential spaces just outside the city, Magee said he couldn’t resist the old Ryerson Steel factory on Chicago’s west side.
“I wanted to have Chicago, Illinois, on the labels. I mean, they know where Chicago is in Moscow,” he said.
Magee said the thought to open the brewery first came to him a little over a year ago, after his wife complained to him about the increased costs of shipping beer across the U.S.
“And I realized we’re shipping all this beer through a desert and two mountain ranges,” he said. “So, it wasn’t a question of whether we could afford it, because we were already paying for it.”
While Magee said he hopes to have the taproom open by March or April, he said the brewing equipment wouldn’t show up until July.
But he said he wants patrons to be able to come in, have a brew and watch as workers install the brewing equipment.
In addition to beer, the Chicago taproom will also turn out grub, which Magee said will be similar to bar food at the California Lagunitas.
And as for a new Chicago brew once they’re up and running?
“I think our brand's already a Chicago brew, just made here in Chicago. There’s just something in the ethos of it all that’s Midwestern,” he said.