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Lagunitas craft beer looks to brew in Chicago

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Updated: May 13, 2012 8:26AM



The owner of a popular craft brewery in Northern California has announced on Twitter his intention to start making beer in Chicago.

Tony Magee, founder of Lagunitas Brewing Co., said he wants to set up in part of the old Ryerson Steel property at 18th and Rockwell. Cinespace Chicago Film Studios owns the space but would lease part of it.

The operation could become the largest brewery in Chicago, exceeding the output of longtime stalwart Goose Island Beer Co. But Alex Pissios, manager of Cinespace, cautioned that it’s hardly a done deal. Pissios said he has a letter of intent from Lagunitas, which is a commitment to negotiate but is not binding.

Lagunitas is based in Petaluma, Calif., about 40 miles north of San Francisco. Its success has caused some to describe it as a Samuel Adams of the West Coast.

Pissios said the brewery is interested in at least 100,000 square feet in a western building of the Cinespace complex. “It could be a good deal for us because it’s part of the plant that’s useless to us,” he said. “It sits next to railroad tracks and there is no way we could build a soundstage there.”

Lagunitas has “a lot of work to do” to complete the deal, including determining if it can get an adequate water supply into the property, Pissios said.

Magee, a former Chicagoan, said he wants to begin brewing here by late 2013. His Chicago output would be distributed to all Lagunitas sales points east of the Rockies and savings on trucking costs could finance the expansion, he said.

“Fresher beer w/ less diesel in it,” Magee tweeted.



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