Company kept the taproom closed since March 2020 to safeguard brewery employees and operations, but poised to reopen later thClosed since the start of the pandemic, the Lagunitas Brewing Company taproom on the West Side will reopen late this year, officials said May 17.
Lagunitas leaders confirmed they are targeting the end of the year to reopen the taproom at 2607 W. 17th St. in North Lawndale. They did not announce a more specific timeline since plans “depend on a really tight labor market and being able to hire and train staff appropriately,” Chief Marketing Officer Paige Guzman said.
Located at the heart of the sprawling brewery, the Lagunitas taproom has offered tasty bites and fizzy delights since it opened in 2014. Unlike the other Lagunitas taprooms in Petaluma, California and Seattle, Washington — both of which are mostly outdoors — the North Lawndale taproom gives visitors a front row seat to inner workings of the brewery, where they can see the brew kettles and bottling equipment in action while sipping a fresh beer.
Lagunitas closed the taproom in March 2020 following the first stay-at-home order. Company officials said at the time the closure would be indefinite.
The “very conservative approach” of shutting down the taproom to protect brewery workers ensured Lagunitas would be able to continue producing beer without the significant slowdown experienced by many other breweries in the industry, Guzman said.
Since the Chicago taproom is indoors and “smack dab in the middle” of the brewery, it’s taken much longer to reopen even as pandemic restrictions have lessened, Guzman said.
“We needed to protect the health and safety of our brewery employees and we didn’t want to have the taproom open bringing in outside folks,” Guzman said. “Now we’re feeling that it’s an appropriate time to open back up and bring the delicious Lagunitas beers to our friends and families.”
Lagunitas previously offered tours of the massive brewing facilities, which produce beer for all of company’s markets east of the Mississippi River, Guzman said. The company has tentative plans to resume tours once they have the enough staff, Guzman said.
“We have deep ties and roots in Chicago. We make a considerable amount of our beer out of that brewery,” Guzman said. “Even for our brewery employees and for the local community, to bring back life to our Lagunitas taproom is really important.”
The brewery also recently launched a line of hard tea beverages as a way “to invite new friends to enjoy Lagunitas,” Guzman said.
The bubbly drinks are made with guayusa tea and are infused with fruity flavors that ride the wave of spiked seltzers. The hard teas have “less calories, no gluten, no sugar” and may appeal to a different base of consumers than those who enjoy beer particularly those who are “looking for a lighter product,” Guzman said.
The hard teas come in two flavors: Mixed Up Berries, a blend of raspberry and blackberry, and Yuzu Lemon Squeeze, which is similar to a classic Arnold Palmer-style iced tea with lemonade. Lagunitas will soon debut a variety pack that will also include a peach flavored hard tea, Guzman said.
“A lot of it is driven from flavor. You look at other categories like sparkling waters … every company in the world is doing sparkling waters and a lot of innovation is rooted in new flavor profiles,” Guzman said.