Guinness taps Chicago as site of 2nd U.S. brewery, taproom
The iconic Irish brewer plans to open a beer house and brewery in the former Pennsylvania Railroad Terminal Building, 375 N. Morgan St., in the Fulton Market area.
The bottle is out of the six pack.
Guinness has tapped the West Loop to be the home of its second U.S. brewery.
Guinness Chicago Taproom is expected to open in Fulton Market in early 2023, and more specifically — and hopefully — by St. Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish brewer announced Tuesday.
Jay Sethi, chief marketing officer of Diageo Beer Company, USA — a branch of Guinness’ parent company, London-based Diageo — called Chicago a “natural choice” from a historical and business standpoint.
“The history of Chicago, in general, fits our values, beyond just the Irish history,” said Sethi, who was born in the city and attended the University of Chicago. With Guinness, “you see a lot of a lot of resilience in our history. Chicago has seen a lot and there’s a lot of resilience in its history.”
Sethi said Guinness picked the trendy West Loop for its accessibility for both city and suburban residents and its architecture. In fact, the selling point for Sethi was the site: the former Pennsylvania Railroad Terminal, 375 N. Morgan St., which he called an “X factor.”
“I remember seeing it, being like, ‘Yep, this is it.’ Because it’s this awesome, A-line, old building that just felt like I was walking into a little bit of what a building would have in Dublin. You know, that was old, but we could make it beautiful again — something I think we do really well in Guinness,” Sethi said.
The plan has been in the works for the last year, according to Sethi.
Guinness recently signed a multi-year lease of the 15,000 square-foot venue, and hopes to start work on it this fall. The graffiti-plastered building is owned by Chicago developer Fred Latsko, who reportedly hopes to develop a 33-story office building on the vacant western edge of the property. Latsko declined to comment Tuesday, deferring to Guinness officials.
The new pub and brewery will offer revolving menus of food and brews — including some beers available only in Chicago and others imported from various Guinness locations. However, Guinness also will continue to import its famous stout from its original brewing location in Dublin.
Guinness Chicago Taproom hopes to pay homage to the different flavors from the city’s 200 neighborhoods with its rotating menus, Sethi said.
The new restaurant and bar will also feature performances by local artists and a lineup of events as well as tours of the facility, allowing patrons to learn some of the history of the more than 260-year-old company. There will also be outdoor space for dining and informal gatherings.
“Hopefully there’s the combination of that, it’s like a place that you can go to eat ... to watch a game, to hang out and to check out, hopefully, local artists,” Sethi said.
This will be the second Guinness taproom opened in the U.S. in four years. The beer maker returned to North America in 2018 for the first time in more than 60 years, opening the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Halethorpe, Maryland, near Baltimore.
That first U.S. venture opened near New York after WWII, when Guinness figured American soldiers who had served in Europe would have a craving for the stout they’d tasted overseas. But that beer house closed in 1954 due to lack of demand, according to National Public Radio.
Guinness Chicago Taproom will launch with a bakery, Sethi said. The idea was born after the Maryland brewery started to use its facility to make bread over the last year to help combat food insecurities amid the pandemic.
Besides offering the bread for sale, Sethi said Guinness is also looking to donate bread to organizations in need, too.
“That’s new and I think it speaks to our heart and what we hope to be: good neighbors,” Sethi said.
Chicago, the nation’s third-most-populous city, is also the second biggest U.S. market for Guinness, according to Sethi, making it an ideal candidate to host the next Irish beer spot in North America.
“Overall, it’s diverse. It represents so many different communities that we want to reach,” Sethi said. “... Chicago is very much just a huge Guinness city.”