Workers have been scurrying in front of the Humboldt Park property that Three Floyds Brewing founder Nick Floyd had pegged for his first Chicago brewpub in the past. Floyd sold the land in February 2014, but over the last few months crews have erected a black brick restaurant building on the parcel on California Avenue, just north of Chicago Avenue, leading to a cavalcade of rumors. Could Floyd have resurrected plans for a Three Floyds brewpub at 819 N. California Ave.?
"Something cool is going in there," Floyd said Tuesday morning. "I might not even own any of it it, which is sad."
Opening a brewpub in Chicago has been a dream for Floyd, one he briefly abandoned when his group sold the property. Future growth is ironically what could inhibit that dream, as Floyd expressed concerns over an Illinois law that limits barrel production to 120,000 barrels per year if they own multiple types of breweries. Lawmakers changed the law last year, increasing the previous limit from 30,000 barrels. Floyd expressed dismay, saying the law only benefits liquor distributors, while crippling beer makers: "You’ll never see another Schlitz."
In comparison, Indiana state law limits brewers to 90,000 barrels annually, and Three Floyds brews about 60,000 barrels per year, Floyd said. Opening a brewing operation in Chicago, without amending the law, would put a ceiling on Three Floyds’ production. Floyd may merely be a consultant on this Humboldt Park project to avoid any barrel limits.
"Chicago is a great city, but it’s not free. You can’t really own a food truck, you can’t really open a bar without being grandfathered," Floyd said. "It’s just bizarre, it’s Byzantine to open anything, especially if it involves alcohol."
In a perfect world, the Humboldt Park location would be the first in a couple of Three Floyds’ brewpubs. That still may be the case, as Floyd could establish a "nano-system" for ownership to comply with state laws. Floyd still couldn’t share specifics about the project, but when it does open, they may even bring back the Old Style/Three Floyds signs that hung outside Lone Wolf in the West Loop.
"If we do anything, it will be a destination for sure," he said.
Three Floyds debuted in 1996 in nearby Munster, Ind. They’ve grown into one of the Chicago area’s most-desired craft beer brands and brewpubs. The brewery and restaurant in the Hoosier State is a major destination, highlighted by their annual Dark Lord Day, attracting huge crowds and top-notch bands and brewers. Floyd is a Chicago resident and said half his brewers are from the city.