A Planned Brewpub and Cider House in Chicago Faces Hurdles

In Beer News by Ryan

The pieces are beginning to fall into place on a planned brewpub and cider house — Serpent and Apple Eris Brewery and Cider House — in Chicago’s Old Irving Park Neighborhood. However, a licensing issue could hold up the project.

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission, last month, gave a conditional thumbs up to the plan — essentially saying if and when the owners apply for their licenses the Commission is likely to approve them. But Bob Myers, President of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, says the Commission shouldn’t be able to do that and his group will likely file a formal complaint.

Myers tells Guys Drinking Beer that, in order to make both cider and beer — and serve them at a brewpub — the owners of Eris would need both a wine makers license and a brewpub license. However a wine maker license doesn’t allow for any other retail licenses, which is what a brewpub license amounts to. He did, however, float the possibility of amending the Illinois Liquor Control Act during the spring legislative session to allow a brewpub license holder to make beer and cider. “I’m happy to work with them, they just have to do it the right way,” said Myers in a phone interview.

We first caught wind of Eris — which was originally positioned as Serpent and Apple, according to documents obtained by Guys Drinking Beer — during the waning days of the spring legislative session in May. The project was lumped into a bill with a number of other businesses that required an exemption from the state to hold a liquor license because they were too close to a church or school. State law prohibits the sale of liquor within 100-feet of either.

The building Eris is eying — a 20-thousand square foot former Masonic Temple at 4240 W Irving Park Rd — is less than a block from Harvest Christian Center; hence the need for an exemption from the state. On May 30th, the final day of the spring session, both the House and Senate passed SB 727. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law on August 26th.

A search of Cook County’s Property Tax Portal shows the Korean Bethel Presbyterian Church of Chicago has occupied the five-story building since 2000. In October of this year MB Financial Bank released the property to the church clearing the way for a sale.

Neither 45th Ward Alderman John Arena nor church leaders at Harvest Christian had a problem with the planned brewpub and cider house. In fact, Alderman Arena is hosting a public forum, Tuesday, December 16th, on the planned brewpub and cider house according to DNAinfo Chicago — which also identifies the owners as Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza. Foik, according to DNAinfo Chicago, is a veteran of Goose Island and Virtue Cider. Pizza’s husband Nunzino, meanwhile, is one of the investors behind Revolution Brewing and is CEO of Hop Head Farms. The three make up Foiken Holdings LLC.

In a release announcing the public forum, Arena notes the owners are putting upwards of 5-million-dollars into the project.

We have reached out to the owners of Eris for comment on this potential licensing hiccup and are awaiting a response.

(All photos found on Trulia.com. Click images for larger versions)

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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.