NORTH CENTER — Hop Butcher For The World’s owners want Chicagoans to know they haven’t given up on taking over the former Half Acre taproom on Lincoln Avenue — they just ran into some typical new business delays and plan to open sometime in spring.
Half Acre announced in May 2021 it would consolidate operations at its Bowmanville location and sell its 13,000-square-foot brewery and taproom at 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. to Hop Butcher. Hop Butcher owners Jeremiah Zimmer and Jude La Rose planned to renovate the taproom and open it by the end of 2021.
But city red tape and the real estate process took longer than expected, and Hop Butcher’s owners now plan to open in the spring. Meanwhile, they’ve been able to ramp up brewing operations after taking over 5 Rabbit Cervecería’s Bedford Park location.
Since launching in 2014, Hop Butcher has relied on other breweries to make its beer, producing at Miskatonic Brewing Company in suburban Darien as well as 5 Rabbit.
“The stars aligned for us,” Zimmer said. “It didn’t require a huge departure from what we’d already been doing and allowed us to bring all of our production under one roof instead of brewing in two different places that we didn’t own. It was just about getting all our ducks in a line with paperwork here and there.”
Hop Butcher now owns both the Bedford Park warehouse and the Lincoln Avenue brewery and taproom, and plans to utilize both.
Renovations at the Lincoln Avenue location will continue so Hop Butcher can put its own spin on the tasting room with the goal of opening by spring, but that timeline depends upon how long it takes the brewery’s Lincoln Avenue licenses to be approved, Zimmer said.
“Along the way, sometime after Lincoln Avenue is open, we hope to have something like a taproom at Bedford Park. But right now the warehouse is just straight production,” Zimmer said.
That increased production gives Hop Butcher a capacity to do things like brew four lagers at once and let the tanks be devoted to a brew for two months, which wasn’t possible with the previous contract brewing setup.
“We’ll never know what the demand of a taproom or two will eventually put on our production, but it feels good to know that if it exceeds our wildest dreams that we have the capacity to just brew more,” Zimmer said. “That feels really good.”
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