THE Lagunitas Taproom reopens at its Chicago brasserie on April 13 after more than three years of pandemic shutdown, and if a glimpse of last weekend is any indication, the place hasn’t missed a beat.
Located on the second floor of a huge 300,000 square foot brewery in North Lawndale, next to Cinespace movie studios and Douglas Park, the taproom remains a fun place to hang out, with great beer served in mason jars and food that Midwesterners will enjoy. Heineken bought out founder Tony Magee in 2017though the branding and vibe on display remains strictly Lagunitas.
The tap room’s new general manager, Julia Helton, a chef who competed in Food Network’s Vegas Chef Prizefight, acknowledged that Lagunitas played it safe in deciding to bring the public back, even though the beer was still brewed on-site. throughout the pandemic.
Faucets and styles are plentiful. All nine year-round versions are available, including the flagship IPA and old favorite Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, as well as the 9% Maximus. On the other end of the spectrum, they offer their IPNA and Hoppy Refresher hop waters as non-alcoholic options.
We spent our four preview tokens on some of the 14 limited releases. A favorite was 3-Year Haze, a juicy, easy-drinking 5.6% IPA. The New New Dogtown XPA had a good amount of bitterness and contained 7.5% Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. The 17707ST IPA featured experimental hops with hints of peach. It was okay.
We were hoping that Willettized BA stout would be available, and it was. The stout had a nice chocolate flavor and the Metropolis coffee was present but not overpowering, as were the Bourbon and Rye Willett casks this beer was aged in. This beer remains excellent value for money for a BA stout.
Also available: a Belgian beer blend aged in barrels from Bourdeaux with blackberries, a black IPA, a pilsner and a lager, a two-year-old sour aged in barrels from Bourdeaux and raspberries, and Waldo’s Special Ale (after all , 4/20, it’s just a week after the official reopening of the taproom).
OG Lagunitas chef Juan Carlos Bueno is back at the helm after a pandemic shutdown at Ravinia BreweryLogan Square Party Hall. He brought back Avant Times favorites like Black Mussels and Hoganitas, made with pork belly, ham, swiss and onions on a telera roll. Cajun pasta with shrimp and andouille sausage was tasty, and since it’s Chicago, a Slagel Farms smashburger is available. There are two Shepherd’s Pie options, one with beef and one vegetarian with lentils. The Lagunitas beer cheese pretzel remains outstanding. If you’re the type to bring the kids to a dining room, there’s even a menu for them.
As Lagunitas dips its toes back in the water, the faucet room will be open Thursday through Sunday.
No more guys drinking beer
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