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A Black-Owned Brewery Steps Up to Fill a Bronzeville Space

Meanwhile, the closed California Clipper may soon rise again under new ownership in Humboldt Park

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A coming attractions image.
Turner Haus Brewery could open this year in Bronzeville.

CORRECTION: Turner Haus Brewery’s ownership reached out after the story was published to clarify: They plan on opening later this year in Bronzeville, not inside the South Loop space that Vice District vacated. Amended story follows.

A new brewery taproom — a rare Black-owned operation in the beer world — could soon arrive in Bronzeville. Turner Haus Brewery Chicago aims to open later this year, according to the Sun-Times. Brewery co-founder Nathaniel Aikens tells Eater Chicago they’re in the middle of a land acquisition, but won’t reveal their address until the deal’s done. They plan on serving food inside their new space.

Aiken and his fellow Turner Haus co-founders Steven Turner and Blair Turner-Aikens have popped up around town at beer tasting events and on tap at Alulu Brewpub in Pilsen. They’ve also collaborated with Nashville-based Tennessee Brew Works to produce “Gazelle Hazy IPA,” in honor of “the Black Gazelle” — Olympic track and field champion Wilma Rudolph.

Black brewers face a litany of challenges in the white-dominated industry. The problem was laid bare in 2019 when a Black former employee sued Michigan-based Founders Brewing Company as a worker alleged a pattern of racist incidents at the company. Representation issues have spilled over to the spirit world where distillers report similar problems in the liquor industry.

Black brewers have a rich history that reaches back prior to the 19th Century. Other local Black craft beer leaders include Jay Westbrook and Sam Ross, who last month collaborated with Haymarket Brewing to create “Harold’s ’83 Honey Ale,” named for Chicago’s late Mayor Harold Washington.

But lately, Black brewers haven’t had luck gaining a foothold in Chicago. Craft beer brewery Vice District, founded in 2014, was touted as Chicago’s first Black-owned brewery with locations in South Loop and one in suburban Homewood. The company was evicted from its Chicago taproom in 2018 and the following year closed in Homewood. Likewise, the pandemic has delayed Englewood Brews’ project.

In other news...

— The California Clipper, the landmark bar in Humboldt Park that closed in May 2020, may soon rise again under new ownership, according to Block Club Chicago. Landlord Gino Battaglia tells reporters that an unnamed operator plans to reopen the bar, located inside a historic space that dates back to the early 20th Century at 1002 N. California Avenue. Former owner Brendan Sodikoff of Hogsalt Hospitality (Au Cheval, Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf) last spring attributed the closure to financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Meg and Molly Svec, the sisters behind popular bakery Spilt Milk in suburban Oak Park, are raising funds for a new space after a kitchen flood last month forced them to close the location on Oak Park Avenue. The Indiegogo campaign aims to raise $60,000. Supporters thus far have donated more than $47,000.

— Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream founder Jeni Britton Bauer will join other female industry leaders on a virtual panel at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Hatchery to mark International Women’s Day. Panelists also include Vosges Chocolates founder Katrina Markoff, Ayeshah Abuelhiga of Mason Dixie Foods, Omsom co-founder Vanessa Pham, and Hatchery CEO Natalie Shmulik. More details are available on the Hatchery’s website.

California Clipper

1002 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 384-2547 Visit Website

Spilt Milk

2758 West Fullerton Avenue, , IL 60647 Visit Website