Baderbrau, the South Side brewery and taproom located about a mile south of McCormick Place, closed on Saturday as a precursor to new ownership. There are plans to reopen the taproom, which also served food, once a sale is completed. Several details are still being worked out, but — for now — the taproom will stay closed at 2515 S. Wabash Avenue.
All operations, including brewing, have ceased in the interim. The taproom opened in late 2014, as Baderbrau, which specializes in Czech-style lagers, resurfaced in 2012. The brand debuted in 1989, but its popularity lumbered and it faded in the late 1990s. New ownership built a 25,000-square-foot brewery and seemingly found a South Side niche as a spot for McCormick Place convention attendees in an area with sparse food and beverage options. The brewery’s low-alcohol beers included South Side Pride. It comes in a black and white can as a nod to the White Sox.
Last year, the brewery partnered with Chef Luciano, a nearby Italian restaurant, to start serving food. They went full brewpub on the second floor with creative bar food like the macaroni and cheese waffle.
While the brewpub should reopen when the sale is finalized, it’s unclear what will happen to the Baderbrau name. This time around, the company, which uses the mythological Phoenix as its logo, may not rise from the ashes. While not sharing too many details, Chef Luciano owner Rocky Gupta said he hoped to take a larger role in the business after the sale. It may offer different beer once the sale is finalized. Current Baderbrau owner Rob Sama could be exiting his role, but that hasn’t been confirmed. It’s unclear what this means for Billy Goat Pilsner, the rebranded beer Baderbrau supplies for the legendary Billy Goat Tavern.
Gupta provided a short statement after consulting with Sama: “We are temporarily closed while details of the sale get finalized. We hope to reopen soon.”
The beer industry is subject to different regulations compared to restaurants and that includes licensing. For example, problems with licensing and restrictive state laws has prevented Indiana-based Three Floyds Brewing from opening a facility in Illinois. A Humboldt Park building remains dormant.
The Tribune caught first wind that a Baderbrau sale was in the works. The story ponders if the changes mean Chicago’s brewery bubble is about to burst. Competition continues to increase as national brands, including Ballast Point, attempt to secure their own piece of the pie.
Gupta hopes to share more details at a later date.