After months of waiting, California-based craft beermaker Lagunitas (1843 S. Washtenaw Ave., Douglas Park) opened their Chicago brewing facility last week. Inside, the Chicago TapRoom is a hop lover's dream come true—that is, if you can find the entrance tucked in the back of an industrial complex abutting Cinespace Chicago and a residential neighborhood. (Hint: If you're planning to take a cab there, like we did, tell the driver to drop you at the corner of 16th and Washtenaw, not the brewery's mailing address, for easier access.)
Once you find your way there, you'll walk through a winding, purple-painted hallway bedecked with LED lights, and head up a few flights of stairs to get to the taproom. Aside from windows to the brewing facilities, the space is sparsely decorated. But it's huge, too, with a sea of picnic tables and seats for 300 people. Bands play nightly, and there's a small menu of snacks and sandwiches to enjoy while you drink and listen.
The taproom's 16 rotating offerings are perfect as both an introduction to the label's biggest hits—their IPA, the just-hoppy-enough Little Sumpin' Sumpin' ale—as well as some of their seasonal offerings (we particularly liked Little Sumpin's knockout cousin, the Little Sumpin' Extra.) Accordingly, the space draws a mix of both Lagunitas superfans and casual drinkers curious about expanding their palates.
Here's what we saw when we swung by last week.