LAKEVIEW — Michael Jorndt spent two years unearthing the best craft brews from around the country.
He moved to Lakeview from the suburbs and decided to open his own taproom, choosing 100 of his favorite beers to stock at Bitter Pops Original Beer Shoppe.
It barely made a dent in his shelf space.
Now, with more than 500 craft beers from around the world, Bitter Pops is scheduled to open April 15 at 3345 N. Lincoln Ave. The taproom and beer shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and offer pours of a rotating selection of craft beers.
The Bitter Pops taproom. [Provided/Bitter Pops]
Key to the concept is the ability for customers to share 16-ounce growlers from the taproom, although 5-ounce "pops" are also available. Sharing the experience helps "tap the stories of brewers and the beers themselves," said Megan Schneider, assistant manager.
The story behind the beer is what fascinates owner Michael Jorndt, who left his marketing job after 20 years to follow his newfound passion. As he toured the country, he shared his discoveries in a newsletter he called Bitter Pops.
The newsletter morphed into his plan to open a beer shop, and he found the perfect location on Lincoln Avenue in what used to be the Ark Thrift Shop. In 2014, L3 Capital added the building to its growing west Lakeview portfolio and redeveloped it, Crain's Chicago reported.
Having a bare bones storefront gave Jorndt the freedom to design Bitter Pops from the ground up. Refurbished barnyard wood and pipes make up the taproom bar and shelves, and a mural created by marketing manager Nickolas Gil brightens the barnyard-meets-steampunk decor.
"We wanted a comfortable, beautiful space that people want to hang out in and drink beer," Jorndt said.
Bitter Pops has stocked about 500 varieties of craft beers ahead of its expected April 15 opening. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
The 1,800-square-foot retail shop in the front is stocked with international and American craft beers sorted by region, plus packaged food, apparel and gifts like brewing kits. Below the taproom, a beer cellar has larger cases of popular beers and build-your-own six-packs.
Bitter Pops will also sell craft spirits and ciders and offer free Wi-Fi in the tasting room, hoping to attract cafe loungers.
For its opening weekend, Bitter Pops will have all local beers on tap like 5 Rabbit Cerverceria, Brickstone Brewery and Empirical Brewery. Beers will rotate frequently — Jorndt & Co. intends to order single cases and sixtel kegs (one-sixth of a full keg) to keep it fresh with unusual brews like a pistachio nitro cream ale.
Bitter Pops is scheduled to open in Lakeview April 15, offering hundreds of craft beers and a taproom where customers can sample the wide variety of options. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Bitter Pops will "pay tribute to old European beers, but also the new generation of crafts," Jorndt said. "They're in your face and aggressive, fun beers."
And each one has a story, he said.
"The whole concept of Bitter Pops is to tell those stories," Jorndt said. "And we just happen to sell good beer, too."
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