Welcome to stop #91 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Howard Street Brewing Co., 1617 W. Howard St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Red and Purple Lines, Howard
Time from Chicago: 25 minutes (Purple Line)/45 minutes (Red Line)
Distance from station: 100 m
Sadly, the brewery will close on Sunday. But I had the opportunity to visit last night, so the Daily Parker can preserve its memory.
I'm sorry I didn't go before. It's a cute place, and the beers I tried were quite good. I had a pint of the Better Late than Never Pilsner (5.4%), and tastes of the Dark Link Stout (6.5%) and the Sex Panther Kolsch (5.5%). All were quite serviceable and I would have them again.
So what happened? According to Block Club Chicago:
The tight space and business regulations made it hard for Howard Street Brewing to meet consumer demand while adapting to shifts in the craft beer industry, [Owner Chuck] Patella said.
Howard Street Brewing didn’t have space to produce nitro beers or hard seltzers, two popular products. There also wasn’t space for a kitchen, and its license prevents it from offering cocktails or wine, Patella said.
The closure is another loss for Howard Street, which has struggled to retain businesses and has seen violence in recent years.
Sol Cafe, which briefly expanded its hours to offer food service for the neighboring Howard Street Brewing, closed in July after 10 years. Its owner cited floods in the building and nearby shootings as reasons for the closure.
Howard Street Brewing is at least the fourth craft brewer to close in Chicago recently.
Metropolitan Brewery in Avondale will close Sunday after 15 years in business. Lo Rez Brewing closed in Pilsen this summer after seven years, and Rock Bottom Brewery left River North in January after more than 20 years in business. Empirical Brewery closed its Ravenswood facility late last year after being evicted over unpaid rent.
Yes, Howard east of the El has struggled with violence and poverty for, oh, 60 years or so. I admire Patella for trying to change that, but even I didn't visit for almost its entire 18-month run. The area around the Howard Street El just isn't great.
I'm still going to give it a "would go back" rating, but on the map it'll show as "closed." Patella said he's going to try opening in a different spot later on. I hope he does.
Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes