LOGAN SQUARE — Fans of experimental beer and the folks who brew it will have a new spot to hang out starting next weekend.
Pilot Project, an “experimental brewery incubator” and taproom, possibly the city’s first, is set to open at 4 p.m. Aug. 16 in a storefront across from the Congress Theater at 2140 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to co-founder Dan Abel.
With Pilot Project, Abel and his business partner and longtime friend Jordan Radke are looking to elevate the careers of amateur home brewers and food industry creatives by giving them space to experiment with recipes, bottle up their beers and then sell them by the pint in a taproom as if they were established brands.
“People who are trying to create [these] businesses, they’re immediately met with an exceptionally high barrier of entry. The impetus for Pilot Project was to help bring that barrier down,” Abel told neighbors at a community meeting in October 2018.
“The same way an artist or musician would go into a bedroom producer’s space or recording studio’s space — we want to do that exact same thing for brewing.”
The new spot will also support more established breweries that need space to produce and sell their beer.
In 2018, when word of the project first spread, Abel said about half of the 6,000-square-foot space would be dedicated to brewing and the other half would serve as a taproom.
Abel also said to expect light snacks like sweet and savory waffles and cheese and dessert plates and, eventually, food trucks in the parking lot.
When Pilot Project opens, folks can expect about 10-12 types of beer, kombucha and cider on tap — all made in-house except for the cider, Abel said. The pair plans to add another 10 taps in the weeks to follow.
Abel and Radke won approval from former 1st Ward alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno to lift the alcohol moratorium on the block. With the moratorium lifted, they can now sell growlers and crowlers as planned.
The “brewery incubator” concept exists in other cities across the country, but it has yet to catch on in Chicago. In 2018, though, Chicago became the nation’s brewing capital. The city is now home to more breweries than any other city in the nation.
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