LOGAN SQUARE — After about two years of planning and construction, brewery incubator and taproom Pilot Project is ready for its public debut.
The new spot at 2140 N. Milwaukee Ave. opens for business at 4 p.m. Friday.
Unlike a traditional taproom, which is typically dedicated to just one established brewery, Pilot Project is all about giving amateur home brewers and food industry creatives the tools and 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,” co-founder Dan 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.”
Pilot Project is a collaboration between Abel and his longtime friend Jordan Radke. The incubator and taproom will also serve as a home to more established breweries. For example, Ørkenoy is brewing out of Pilot Project before it moves into its permanent home in Kimball Arts Center next to The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail.
To start, Pilot Project is serving up about 10-12 different types of beer, kombucha and cider on tap — all made in-house except for the cider. Another 10 taps will be added in the coming weeks, according to Abel.
Food-wise, patrons can expect artisanal” waffles, charcuterie plates, cookie sandwiches made by award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, and, eventually, food trucks in the parking lot.
Pilot Project’s 142-seat taproom has a “West Coast meets French industrial vibe,” as Abel described it. The room is outfitted with globe lighting and sleek wood furniture; a large steam-bent wood sculpture — made by Chicago artist Paul Grill — hangs above the bar.
During the day, the taproom will function as a co-working space, Abel said. Locally sourced coffee and pastries will be served.
The taproom has an adjoining 150-seat outdoor patio, which will be open for business starting Friday, but isn’t finished. Abel said he and Radke plan to add new lighting, tables and other details in the coming months.
Finishing touches aside, Abel said he’s thrilled to see the project come to life. But the co-founder said the work has only just begun.
“People are saying, ‘You’re nearing the finish line.’ I say, ‘Actually, we’re just at the starting line’ because the reality is we have a lot of to prove,” Abel said.
Pilot Project’s success, he said, is dependent on the success of the brewers who use the space.
“If we cannot successfully launch another brewery, we aren’t doing our job in my opinion.”
Pilot Project’s hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-midnight on Fridays, 8 a.m.-midnight on Saturdays and 8 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sundays.
Check out more photos of the new brewery below:
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