Lagunitas Brewing to open new brewery in Chicago

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(Chicago, IL) – Lagunitas Brewing Owner, Tony Magee, just announced one of the biggest news stories of the year in the beer world…140 characters at a time on Twitter. No press conference. No press release. No press kit. Just a handful of text messages likely sent over a mobile phone.

The news: Lagunitas Brewing is opening a full-scale production brewery in Chicago. UPDATE: Here is a map of the facility and a story about the movie studio complex on which the new brewery will sit, formerly a Ryerson steel plant.

UPDATE: Full coverage on BeerPulse homepage.

The brewhouse is a 250-barrel system to be built by Rolec, the same manufacturer that recently completed a 250-barrel system for Lagunitas’ home base in Petaluma, California. The first mash at the Chicago brewery is expected to take place in Q4 of 2013. To put size in perspective, the 250-barrel system is 5x the size of Goose Island’s 50-barrel system.

Chicago Breaking Business reports that the brewery is a $15-18 million facility that will be built out as an “exact copy” of the Petaluma location. With eventual capacity of 600k barrels of beer produced annually in Chicago and eventual capacity of 800k barrels in Petaluma, Lagunitas is poised to grow into one of the top five craft brewers in the United States by decade’s end.

The announcement comes just days after New Belgium said it would open a new brewery, its second, in Asheville, North Carolina. Sierra Nevada made a similar decision earlier in the year to build a new brewery near Asheville.

Unlike the New Belgium and Sierra Nevada stories which floated through the media for several months, this news came out of nowhere outside of a couple teaser tweets that Magee sent recently. Magee had said early Monday that he had a big announcement to share in the next couple days.

Magee, who was born and raised in Chicago, staunchly defended the city’s beer culture after a late 2010 Crain’s Business report alleging rampant “pay-to-play” tactics.

Lagunitas is among the top ten craft breweries in the United States with 160,000 barrels brewed in 2011 and the fastest-growing brewery among peers of a similar size.

 

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