Chicago has stalwarts like Goose Island, Two Brothers and Three Floyds, but in recent years, start-up brewers like Metropolitan Brewing and Half Acre Beer Co., have helped start somewhat of a craft brewing renaissance in Chicago. And it's not slowing down. Starting next month, Finch's Beer Company will join the fray and add its beers to a (hopefully) growing list of local brewers producing quality beer.
Finch's is a project between Benjamin Finch, his father, Paul, and head brewer, Richard Grant, the former assistant brewer at Flossmoor Station. The team has been working for months to overhaul a 5,000 square-foot industrial space on Elston and are currently awaiting arrival of their brewing equipment. Once it is set up, they'll start brewing. While that process will begin in the next few weeks, the actual beer likely won't start showing up in bars until May and hopefully hit retail by August.
Finch's will produce only kegs and cans of beer, not bottles. Ben Finch said they made that decision for a couple of reasons. "It's more environmentally friendly and they're recyclable," he said. "They're also a lot lighter to store and we can [hang] cans from the ceiling if we have to. And we like the idea of the 16-ounce tall boy."
The first two products that will be released into the Chicago market include Golden Wing Blonde Ale and Cut Throat Pale Ale. Finch said the two beers came out of batches they brewed and taste tested in 2009. They also produced an amber ale, but decided to scrap it and focus on these. He said the blonde is more of a gateway beer, while the pale ale's hoppiness will attract more serious craft-beer drinkers.
"The blonde is a little bit more feasible for someone who is just learning about craft beer. One is directed at the Blue Moon or Stella [Artois] drinker and the other is more for the craft-centered people," he said. The goal was to do two really good production line beers." Finch's will also have special brews and India Pale Ales down the line.
The brewery plans to have 30 local accounts when they launch, including Small Bar and Beer Bistro, and get up to 60 by the end of 2011. They want to have more than 100 accounts by 2012 and is working with Windy City Distribution to get their product out there. Finch's first-year production goal targets 3,000 barrels and they have a short-term plan (about three to four years) to increase production to 10,000 barrels a year. Fortunately, they have the room to grow in their current space, of which they will offer tours.
As for entering the fast-growing Chicago beer space, Finch is excited about it. "It's growing and we have a long way to go," he said. "[Chicago is] behind the curve a bit and we're experiencing our craft beer revolution as we speak ... [but] as long as the craft movement is taking a percent of the big guys, we're doing our job."
· Finch's Beer Company [website]