A nearly two-year quest for a facility finally nears its end. The erstwhile New Chicago Brewing Co. and New Chicago Ales has announced the location for its new brewery, and a new name: Ale Syndicate.
Founders Jesse Edwin Evans and Samuel Evans will locate their new brewery at 2601 W. Diversey, Chicago, the west end of the Green Exchange. Ale Syndicate is now conducting a massive renovation of their brewing space on the property, in a building that was, for much of the 19th Century, the train station for the annexed town of Maplewood.
"We're excited to be the newest addition to Logan Square,” said Samuel Evans. “We’re eager to create a community space that will not only serve innovative and unique brews, but also be a place for neighbors to enjoy local music and culture."
While the brewery buildout is underway, the Evans' have announced their first three beers will be contract brewed at Big Chicago Brewing Co. in Zion, and Galena Brewing Co. in Galena. This will allow the beers to be rolled out to bars and restaurants in March. Bottled beers should hit stores later this spring. Once the brewery is operating, the beers will also be available at their tap room.
Ale Syndicate will be pouring its brews at the Chicago Beer Festival at Union Station on March 30, and is the official beer of the Chicago Area Runners Association's FirstMerit Bank 10 Miler on April 20. The three beers are:
- Richie Imperial Porter, with roasted barley and chocolate malts, "balancing sharper flavors with a clean, semi-sweet finish" (8.0% abv, 32 IBU). Richie is planned as the first to be tapped, likely the week after St. Patrick's Day.
- Municipal India Pale Ale, an all-Cascade hop ale with a tangy aroma and citrusy flavor (5.7% abc, 40 IBU).
- Sunday Session, a mellow ale that uses wheat to complement a blend of Cascade, Crystal and Centennial hops for a "deliciously drinkable brew" (4.8 abv, 23 IBU).
“We are incredibly proud of these initial recipes,” said Jesse Evans. “We’ve working with local businesses to integrate distinctly Chicago flavors into future beers.” Their beers will be distributed in this market by River North Sales and Service.
Ale Syndicate evolved of New Chicago Beer Co., the brewery project the brothers founded after selling their successful Lucky Hand Brewing in Oakland, California in 2009.
"As much as we loved the old name, and the path we had been on, we felt we needed to recognize how our vision for the brewery had evolved,” said Samuel Evans. “This is bigger than any one of us; it will be more than the sum of our parts. The name Ale Syndicate Brewers reflects that goal.”
As New Chicago, they first began setting up in The Plant, a "vertical farm" project in the former Peer Foods Building in the Back of the Yards. Space and other considerations required them to leave the site last April, in search of another, hopefully with a similar green footprint.
Concurrent with the Evans' announcement, Arcade Brewery, a Kickstarter-funded brewer, formally announced their partnership with Ale Syndicate. Arcade will be able to use the brewing line during Ale Syndicate's down time.
“We’re not just an ordinary brewery - we’re a syndicate,” said Jesse Evans. “That means an important part of what we do is collaboration - with each other, with other breweries and, most importantly, with our community.
“This is an amazing time to be a craft brewer. Chicago is the place to be brewing. This community of brewers will put Chicago on the map, and we're honored and enthusiastic to be part of it."
The Green Exchange's main building may be more familiar to commuters on the Kennedy as the former Cooper Lamp Factory, which for years had a sign proclaiming its "Lamps of Distinction." Cooper Lamp occupied the building from 1967 until it closed in 2005. Before that, the factory at 2545 W. Diversey was built in 1913 as the Vassar Swiss Underwear Company. For over 40 years, it produced "union suits for gentlemen" and other undergarments. Vassar merged with Munsingwear in the 1950's, and refocused on making women's undergarments, until Munsingwear moved to Texas in 1967.