The craft beer scene in Chicago is currently booming, and unless you’re going to a sporting event, long gone are the days of Miller and Coors lites. Lagunitas Brewery was founded in 1993 in Petaluma, California and known for their different interpretations of classic beer styles. Since it’s launch, Lagunitas has been one of the fastest growing breweries in the United States.
In 2012, Lagunitas opened a second brewery in the Douglas Park neighborhood of Chicago, in an effort to keep up with the high demand. The brewery is equipped with a 250 barrel brew house which also has a 600,000 barrel capacity.
Every day there are various tours held of the taproom as well as the brewery; and if you’re on funemployment like me, you can visit Lagunitas on a Wednesday afternoon.
The brewery is dimly lit by funky swirling projections similar to to a lava lamp. “Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…” the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tune played through the speakers, making us feel special as if we had found the golden ticket.
The first half of the tour takes place in “Adult Daycare” – a huge room filled with cozy vintage furniture, a giant Jenga game, pinball machine, arcade games, and of course, beer. It was like being at a grungy house party from college. Every so often the Lagunitas staff would bring us a new beer to taste as well as the history and ingredients. After about 5 or 6 tasters, the tour embarked to the factory where we learned a little more about the Lagunitas company. The tour was quick and fun, highlighting the uniqueness of Lagunitas without dragging on through the details of the brewing process.
The whole experience is definitely one of Chicago’s best little secrets, and after being on a number of beer tours this was definitely the most relaxed and fun. Whether you’re a traveler or living in Chicago, the tour is a must visit.
Visit Lagunitas Chicago Brewery Tours and Taproom Website for their free tour hours and location.
Editors Note: Since we visited the brewery, we learned that Heineken acquired 50% of the company in order to help Lagunitas expand globally. Because there are a lot of laws requiring what makes a craft beer, Lagunitas is no longer considered a craft brewery because Heineken’s stake is greater than 25%.