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Upcoming Rogers Park Taproom Promises No TVs, Customized Wedding Beers

Howard Street Brewing won’t be a sports bar or live music venue

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Howard Street Brewing plans a Rogers Park taproom.
Howard Street Brewing/Instagram
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

As of today, no breweries are located in Rogers Park, but city officials are reviewing plans to give the neighborhood a place to drink beers made on premises. Howard Street Brewing is a newcomer from a home brewer who’s spent a decade making beer, and he hopes to open a 37-seat taproom in late May at 1617 W. Howard Street. Chuck Patella has creative ideas such as holding classes for couples so they could brew a custom beer for their weddings, as well as partnering with local restaurants for food pop-ups.

Howard Street’s bartenders would pour from 12 taps in a space with bar seating for 11. It’s a modest one-barrel system for a cozy spot, Patella admits. He’s an avid video gamer and would love to stuff an arcade game cabinet inside, but space is at a premium. Patella is a Massachusetts native who lives in Uptown with his wife, Shannon O’Neill. Both are actors in Chicago’s theatre scene with O’Neill also writing several plays that were performed at The Factory Theater just down the street from the taproom’s site. That’s the backstory behind the name of Howard Street’s flagship beer: “Factory Pale Ale.” It’s a 5.2-percent ABV sessional. There’s also “Tango,” a 6.2-percent ABV described as a mango kettle sour. “Red Rye Redemption,” a call-out to the popular video game series, is a red rye IPA.

“We really do want to explore as many styles as we can,” Patella said.

The taproom wouldn’t have TVs for sports fans, and Patella doesn’t want to host live bands or spoken word performances. The space doesn’t have a kitchen, so they’ll rely on food delivery and carry outs to feed customers. Food trucks traditionally have a strong relationship with breweries as a means to provide food from customers. But trucks may have difficulty finding parking near Howard Street. The controversial Chicago food truck ordinance restricts food trucks from parking within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant to cut off competition. Salerno’s Pizzeria is 150 feet from the taproom. But that shouldn’t prevent customers from eating pizza inside the taproom.

Patella would like to collaborate with local restaurant owners or even food bloggers who like to cook and hold pop-ups to feed taproom customers. He’s still figuring out the details. He’s adamant about one food-related aspect: He wants to hold annual barbecues and crawfish boils.

One of the services Patella is already touting on the brewery’s website is “wedding beer.” He got the idea from a wedding planner who talked about a client who bought a keg of beer that they never used on the wedding day. Patella thought a class for engaged couples to brew their own special beer and bottle it in custom-labeled six packs sounded like something Chicagoans would enjoy.

Rogers Park currently has zero breweries in the neighborhood as Empirical Brewery closed its Rogers Park brewpub last year. Patella is working with a partner — he’s not ready to release his name — and they’ve already raised more than $10,000 for the project. Come back closer to opening day for more info. Alderman (49th Ward) Joe Moore’s office is scheduled to release a statement on the brewery’s plan later today, Patella said.

Block Club Chicago first reported the story.