One of Chicago’s most established breweries is taking over one of the city’s newer brewpubs.
GuysDrinkingBeer has learned from multiple independent sources that Finch’s Beer Company is set to acquire Albany Park’s BreakRoom Brewery, and transform it into a taproom as well as using it as a second brewing facility.
The news that BreakRoom was done broke on Eater on Friday. While we were confirming the news that Finch’s was to be the new partner, the brewpub’s social media team began posting on Instagram about the new project, which appears to be working under the new name of Finch’s Kitchen.
[Update: The below instagram posts were removed by the owners.]
As we understand it, the majority of Finch’s production will remain at their facility on Elston Avenue, while the BreakRoom space will be used for smaller batches of experimental beers from Finch’s collective group of brewers, which they call the “Brewers of the Round Table.” The new taproom will continue to serve food as well, though we haven’t confirmed that the space will continue as a brewpub (which would allow for guest handles) or as a Finch’s-only taproom.
This represents just another one of many changes Finch’s has made since it first started selling beer way back in 2010. The original lineup of Golden Wing, Cutthroat and Threadless have all since been discontinued in favor of beers like their Hardcore Chimera DIPA and Secret Stache Stout.
The brewery announced plans for a brewing complex alongside the Chicago River in December 2014, only to announce a few months later (in May 2015) that those plans were not moving forward. Just last December the Daily Herald reported that the brewery had moved some of their warehouse facilities to a new property in Long Grove, which would eventually house a bottle shop, taproom, beer gardent and new brewery — but that plan appears to have been sidelined as well.
Breakroom has had something of a a similarly rocky existence, if not quite on the scale of Finch’s — their original brewer, Michael Pallen, departed before the brewpub opened to move to SlapShot and start his own brand, Mikerphone. The building and brewery’s owner, Heineman Bar Company, was embroiled in a lawsuit with HopCat about taking payment for bars they didn’t deliver, and finally, the kitchen received the most scalding review in recent memory from the Chicago Reader for any beer-based operation with a kitchen.
This move is part of a growing trend — numerous production breweries have moved into the brewpub/taproom sphere, and vice versa. Illinois law changed in 2015 to allow brewers with a Level Two license to own a production facility and three other brewpub locations. This was in part to bring the Revolution brewpub/production facility model into compliance with the law, but more and more breweries are seeing the opportunity to expand their footprints.
For example: Vice District is working to open a second production facility and taproom in Homewood, while Atlas Brewing opened their South Side production facility and canning line a few months ago, miles from the flagship brewpub on Lincoln. Begyle is looking for a suburban spot for its second facility as well.
Most notably, of course, Goose Island/Anheuser-Busch recently took over the Clybourn brewpub to convert it into a taproom.