Chicagoans are calling it “St. Patrick’s Day in September” with Guinness officially opening the doors to its brewery on Thursday morning with coffee and pastries.
Diageo, the deep-pocked parent of the Irish-born stout, has poured considerable money into renovating the 123-year-old railroad building just north of Randolph Restaurant Row in West Loop. The project, announced in September 2021, is part brewery, morning cafe, restaurant, and merchandise store, a destination for fans for the beer and those with familiar ties to Guinness’ breweries in Dublin and all across the world.
The cavernous space has the potential to find a niche with laptoppers during the morning hours. They serve Intelligentsia coffees and baked goods from Aya Pastry. Guinness is also baking its own brown bread both to sell and to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
This is the super stout’s second U.S. brewery, debuting eight years after the Baltimore facility opened. While the restaurant will serve Maryland crab cakes, the space is tailored for the Chicago crowd with menu items like “caviar” made with the city’s preferred spicy pickled condiment, giardiniera. Beer-battered halibut and pot pie made with Guinness are other options. There’s also nods to Guinness breweries in other parts of the world with Carribbean fried rice and Nigerian chicken skewers (known as suya). This menu is for lunch and dinner.
Weekend brunch is also part of the deal with crab Benedict, a traditional Irish breakfast, and a shakshuka pot pie.
Why would Guinness open such a large facility in an area with some of the most expensive real estate in Chicago? The brewery has the potential to become a tourist attraction, not just for out-of-state vistiors, but for locals journeying from the suburbs. The space also features a private event space for 94 which will be a draw, as will a 136-seat patio. Diageo has a net worth of $84.5 billion, so it has the resources to take chances on branding. That includes installing a 7,700-pound wooden harp above the bar.
The state of craft beer is a fragile one. Last week two local brewerires, 3 Floyds and Revolution Brewing announced new plans. But the West Loop has been a tough nut to crack for breweries, even though a few, including Goose Island to On Tour to Great Central, exist a short trip west in West Town. While Cruz Blanca and Haymarket continue to brew, Ballast Point’s experiment failed.
While Guinness’ bartenders won’t have access to spirits and a full bar, they will mix beer cocktails and offer a vareiety of suds exclusively available onsite. There are 171 days until St. Patrick’s Day, so there’s also plenty of time for Guinness to make sure service runs smoothie and for Chicagoans to prepare. It’s going to be crowded inside the 15,000-square-foot brewery.
Read the menus below.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery, 901 W. Kinzie Street, bakery open 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekdays; and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday; taproom and restaurant open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday; 9 a.m. to midnight on Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.