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Chicago's Atlas Brewing Expands, Takes Over Long-Vacant Jay's Chip Factory

By Paul Biasco | July 27, 2015 7:19am | Updated on July 27, 2015 8:33am
 Atlas Brewing Company just opened up its full scale brewing plant in Roseland.
Atlas Brewing Company just opened up its full scale brewing plant in Roseland.
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Atlas Brewing Co.

LINCOLN PARK — Goose Island is no longer the only Lincoln Park craft brewery whose products you can find at Chicago's liquor stores.

Atlas Brewing Co., the Lincoln Avenue-based brewpub, just launched a line of cans that is making its way to liquor stores around Chicago.

The young brewing company fired up its operations at a new South Side facility located inside the former Jay's Potato Chip factory at 99th and Cottage Grove.

Atlas's beers had primarily only been available on tap at its Lincoln Park location, 2747 N. Lincoln Ave., until earlier this month.

"It's exciting. It's scary. It's an opportunity to really turn this thing into something that can be a long-term career," said Ben Saller, who runs the brewery and brewpub with his brother John.

Ben Saller, a co-founder of the company, works on a batch at the new Atlas Brewing plant. [Provided]

Atlas began looking for a location to expand their operation into a full-scale brewery about a year and a half ago and settled into the old Jay's factory about a month-and-a-half ago.

The Jay's factory shut down in 2007 and had been vacant up until Atlas moved in.

The young brewery's first cans were shipped out about three weeks ago and can be found in about 30 liquor stores including a select number of Binny's, The Beer Temple in Avondale and the Target on Elston Avenue.

"Right now it's definitely a bit stressful because we are yet to see how things are going to go," Saller said. "I'm very happy on the reactions that we have seen to the cans and the beer we have inside of them."

Paul Biasco says it's a big move for the young brewery:

The plant currently has the capacity to produce about 8,000 barrels of beer a year, but has space to bring in more tanks to up the capacity to 50,000 barrels a year if demand warrants.

The Saller brothers' roots run deep in the beer business: Their great-great-great-grandfather was an immigrant from Germany who founded the first major brewery in Kansas City.

The Atlas Brewing Company name originated in Chicago in 1896, but that brewery closed after prohibition.

The Sallers brought back the historic name and give a nod to Chicago history in their unique cans.

The initial Atlas Brewing lineup. [Atlas Brewing Co.]

The brewery initially is producing three varieties in cans at their Roseland plant, the Diversey Pale Ale, Rookery Rye IPA and Farmhouse Wheat Ale.

They are brewing a Freight Handler Milk Stout that will only be available on tap.

Each beer makes reference to Chicago history. The Rookery, one of the most historically significant buildings in Chicago, was designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root and the lobby was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Diversey Pale Ale acknowledges Michael Diversey, who was the founder of one of the first large breweries in Chicago.

Freight Handler takes its name from the famed Carl Sandburg poem "Chicago."

"Those of us behind the company are all either lifelong Chicagoans or longtime residents," Saller said. "We love the city."

Atlas will continue brewing small batches at the Lincoln Park brewpub, but all of that beer will remain at that location.

"We don't have a real fixed goal," Saller said. "We just want to see how we grow and hopefully we will need to buy some more tanks within the next year or so."

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