Lagunitas closing its Chicago taproom as brewery will move back to California

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Lagunitas Brewing Co. announced Thursday that it’s shutting its Chicago taproom and moving its brewing operations back to its original location in Petaluma, California, by early August.

The company will keep running its warehouse at 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave., which is next to the taproom, according to a news release.

The taproom’s closure in Douglass Park will affect 86 employees, some of whom will work remotely or move to Petaluma, said Lagunitas. Others will continue to work through the transition and then receive severance packages when their jobs are cut.

Lagunitas will continue to supply bars, restaurants and stores in the area and said “Chicago remains a priority market.”

The 30-year-old craft brewery cited “changing tides in the craft beverage industry” as the reason for closing its 300,000-square-foot facility. Moving to California “will allow for a more efficient and flexible supply chain,” as well as a focus on innovation and sustainability, the company said in a statement.

“There’s no way to sugarcoat this news, but it’s a decision that is right for us in the long run. Right now, it sucks,” Lagunitas said on its website. “Cheers to the nights spent pouring beers, dancing to killer live music, and sharing countless unforgettable memories.”

Lagunitas founder Tony Magee was a native Chicagoan, graduating from Buffalo Grove High School. He started making beer in 1993 with a home brew kit in Northern California and by 1995, he developed India Pale Ale, according to the company’s website.

He launched Lagunitas in Chicago in 2014 with help from Nick Mirkopolous, owner of film studio Cinespace.

The Chicago brewhouse could produce more than 500,000 barrels of beer per year and had capacity to brew and ship 1 million barrels a year, making it larger than all the other craft breweries in Chicago combined in 2014. The following year, Heineken purchased a 50% stake in the company, and in 2017, it acquired the remaining shares of Lagunitas.

Heineken helped the craft brewer enter markets in Europe and Mexico. Lagunitas is now available in more than 50 countries.

“It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think the space will stay empty for long,” said Ald. Monique Scott (24th), who represents the neighborhood where Lagunitas is located. “I’m very optimistic because it’s a great space.”

She mentioned the possibility that another brewery could open at the site.

Scott said after Heineken bought Lagunitas, the craft brewer was “not as community-focused as when they opened. It kind of changed the brand.”

On social media, fans lamented the closure of the Chicago taproom and brewery.

“So disappointing,” said @CM_Febby on X, formerly Twitter. “That taproom was my escape from life. This sucks.”

On Instagram, @claudiva_ wrote: “SO much of our relationship over the past 10 years has been spent with you. You’re leaving a giant hole in our hearts.”

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