The owners of Chicago’s first cidery, Right Bee Cider, have been busy the last four years. Right Bee started in suburban Lincolnwood and moved two years ago to its production facility in Hermosa. While Right Bee supplies ciders for bars and stores (they’re also working on apple cider vinegars), passersby in Hermosa couldn’t stop in for a drink — there was no room or a proper license for that. That’s going to change early next year when Right Bee opens a 50-seat taproom inside the cidery at 1830 N. Kostner Avenue.
Right Bee’s owners have wanted to open a taproom since they debuted as the city’s first cidery (like a brewery, but for a cider). They’ve watched the city’s first cider bar — the Northman — and the city’s first cider pub — Eris Brewery and Cider House — open.
“The goal for us was always to bring friends and families together,” said co-owner Charlie Davis.
Davis (a Chicago native who grew up in Sauganash) and wife Katie Morgan (a Seattle native) are ecstatic about the upcoming opening. The taproom is a game changer for Right Bee. They can’t sell six packs out of their building. But come January, or sometime in winter 2019, customers will be able to buy bottles to go and growlers. Customers who stay could sip a draft cider from one of six taps. Right Bee may even throw in a draft cocktail. The “Right Bee Mule” swaps vodka for cider mixed with ginger beer.
Since Right Bee has a winery license, not a brewery license which is more restrictive, they’ll be able to stock a full bar, too. They won’t serve food. Customers can get takeout from nearby restaurants like Rice Arepa. Davis described the atmosphere as cozy, like a finished basement.
Those who want a preview of the taproom can stop at Paddy Long’s next month in Lincoln Park. From November 14 through November 17, Paddy Long’s will host a Right Bee tap takeover/pop-up. It’ll have cider flowing for four days and the bar will be redecorated. Each night will have a theme. Wednesday, November 14 will have a special firkin release; Thursday, November 15 will feature a food and cider pairing; Friday, November 16 will feature Davis behind the stick as a guest bartender; Saturday, November 17 will feature a special barrel-aged cider release.
Right Bee enjoys a strong relationship with Pat Berger, owner of Paddy Long’s and Kaiser Tiger in the West Loop. Paddy’s was the first bar to buy kegs of Right Bee Cider. Davis said his father used to be a Paddy Long’s customer. When Right Bee collaborated with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams last year, Kaiser Tiger was the site of the launch party.
Incidentally, the new taproom will also give Right Bee a space to host its own special bottle releases. Inside the cidery — a former Schwinn bicycle factory — there’s a stack of barrels from Koval Distillery. Davis has plenty of ideas on how to age cider.
The announcement comes as Right Bee prepares to celebrate its fourth birthday: “We are beyond excited to welcome people to our home,” Morgan said.
Right Bee will have more updates as opening date inches closer.