In a spread out, light industrial and commercial area of Chicago’s far NW side, a new brewery discreetly opens its doors for only their second-ever brewery tour. This is Finch’s Beer Co., and they invite you to put a bird on it.
Just behind the vacant-looking doors of 4565 N. Elston, past the “yes, this is where you enter for the beer tour” sign taped to the window, is a flutter of beery activity. From the design and marketing machine turning over, to the brand-new tanks from Taiwain filling up, to the recently cobbled-together canning line whirring to a start, Finch’s is barreling ahead.
Started by a Benjamin Finch, a marketer and graphic designer who wanted to leave behind the client-driven world of advertising to create and manage his own brand, Finch’s feels well-produced, yet focused. Our host for the day, Charlie (working under co-owner, head brewer, and fellow SAIC alum, Richard Grant), provided the most detailed, revealing brewery tour I’ve taken to date. I learned far more than the fundamentals of brewing beer — I now know the names of different valves, meters and organic processes (partly thanks to the chemist in the crowd).
While nowhere near capacity yet, the brewery is certainly on-pace for an agressive entry into the Chicago beer market. Flasgships like the Threadless IPA (a collaboration with the t-shirt company and namesake) have been on tap around town for awhile now. But as they prepare for the release of their canned business, it’s all hands on deck. Between brewing, equipment assembly, and hosting tours and events, Charlie’s putting in some honest hours.
Finch’s enters the market with three beers: Golden Wing blonde ale, Cut-Throat pale ale and the Threadless IPA. Alongside this hoppy first round of releases (even the Golden Wing is more hoppy than usual), Charlie and co. are working on a Dopplebock, some of which is currently aging in Lions’ Pride whiskey barrels (only 4 miles east).
Helping Charlie out with pouring and demo duties was volunteer and fellow beer blogger, Paul, from ChiTownOnTap. Paul’s been hosting his “Dabblers” brewing class for beginners at Finch’s while he gets a first-hand look at the micro-brew production process. Paul’s class aligns well with Finch’s secondary goals — rather than build a taproom or take on brewpub burdens, Finch’s has decided to focus on education. We can expect to see more tours and classes like Dabblers as Finch’s extends its influence into the community. (note: Paul’s next class is actually at New Chicago Brewing Co.)
If the canning line runs as smoothly as hoped, look for Finch’s cans at Whole Foods and Binny’s throughout Chicago in the coming weeks.