New Chicago Beer Company moves out of the Plant

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The New Chicago Beer Company space last summer
  • Julia Thiel
  • The New Chicago Beer Company space last summer
Samuel and Jesse Edwin Evans, the brothers behind the nascent New Chicago Beer Company, are moving out of the Back of the Yards eco-compound known as the Plant, where they’d been planning since early last year to start their brewery.

The Evans brothers and their plans were the subject of a story I wrote last summer; they said at the time that they expected to open in March 2012 and anticipated producing 12,000 barrels of beer in their brewery's first year. They also said their brew would eventually be available in a 2,500-square-foot tasting room that they were planning.

The brothers now say that the Plant is too large-scale for their brewery.

The Plant is the latest project of sustainably minded entrepreneur John Edel, who’s in the process of converting a former meatpacking plant into a vertical farm that uses an anaerobic digester to convert organic waste into heat and electricity.

When I wrote about the Evans brothers last year, they were just starting to develop the space, bringing in volunteers to help turn it into something suitable for a brewery (their name then was New Chicago Brewing Company). A brewery update posted to the New Chicago website yesterday stated that because of "unforeseen circumstances with the building's continuing redevelopment, our launch would be pushed back if we remained." Today the brothers retracted that part of the release. "We don’t want to imply that the Plant’s not ready. The intent was never to trash the Plant," Sam told me. The reason he and Jesse are moving out, he said, was that they needed a smaller space suitable for the scale they want to work on; the 16,800 square feet they had in the Plant was too much.

"It's definitely a disappointing thing, but we've been working long before we started there to make a really good brewery, and that's what we're excited about," Jesse said. "It's just going to be at a different location." Where that will be has yet to be determined.

Edel is currently looking for another brewery to fill the vacant space; the model for the Plant is dependent on an energy- and waste-intensive process like brewing. "We have this thing that's all geared up for brewing, with an anaerobic digester going in now, and the combined heat and power system in mostly in already. It's just waiting for a brewery," Edel said.

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