Six months after their brewery was destroyed by fire, Twisted Hippo will rise again at the District Brew Yards brewery incubator.
Twisted Hippo continues to search for a new home of its own, but in the meantime, its beer will be brewed and served alongside several other breweries at the original District Brew Yards location in West Town, plus a second facility District Brew Yards will open in the fall. . in the northern suburbs of Wheeling.
“I’m very sorry about what happened to them, of course, but we’re so glad they can join us,” said District Brew Yards co-founder Steve Soble.
twisted hippo released in 2019 in Albany Park with a colorful tavern and an equally colorful approach to brewing, which co-owner Marilee Rutherford described as “strange but amazing.” The brewery was destroyed in February by a major fire who also claimed an adventure course for children.
In an Instagram post from late June, Twisted Hippo said he “spent the spring months saying goodbye to a beloved place and space, and ushering in an era of transition. Thanks to the almost unthinkable generosity of our community, we were able to pay our entire staff for two months after the fire as they took a moment to breathe and reposition themselves. Each of them will be offered the opportunity to return when we are able to open our doors again, wherever that may be.”
The brewery said it is looking for “a space in or near Albany Park to serve our community.”
“The search is daunting, but we are committed,” the post read. “Albany Park is our heart.”
Rutherford did not respond to a message Tuesday night. Twisted Hippo beer will be available at District Brew Yards’ West Town location starting Aug. 16, the brewery said.
District Beer Courts opened in 2019 with a unique concept of multiple breweries operating under one roof and a service model of customers who serve their own beer, paid for by the ounce. Soble said he will use the same model in Wheeling, at 700 N. Milwaukee Ave., at the former Ram Restaurant & Brewery.
Soble said that District Brew Yards was planning an expansion to Pittsburgh before the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans. He chose to stay closer to home, landing in a former brewery that has been closed since 2019. Soble said he was drawn to the space because he was close to a turnkey operation; he hopes to have it open “after Labor Day.”
The new District Brew Yards will be much smaller, with the capacity to produce about a third of the amount of beer as the West Town location. Most of the beer made in Wheeling will be served on-site, Soble said, while the beer made in West Town is served on-site and distributed in both cans and kegs. Soble said he looks forward to further expansion of the concept, but “we won’t do anything until we show we can make it work at Wheeling.”
In response to customer feedback, he said, he will add wine on tap and a cider at the new location.
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Beer from three breweries available at the original District Brew Yards location will also be brewed and served in Wheeling: Brewing in the Burnt City (which Soble also co-owns), Around the Bend, and humble house. Twisted Hippo will be available at both locations; Histrionic Brewlab will join the roster of District Brew Yards in Wheeling after moving from a smaller brewery, Pilot Project.
District Brew Yards’ Wheeling location will feature three food concepts from chef Charlie McKenna: Lillie’s Q BBQ (also served at the West Town location after a successful run in Bucktown), Salt & Scratch’s Fish and Fried Chicken and Chicano Taqueria with a Mexican theme.
Bold Dog Beer Co., which was one of the original breweries started at District Brew Yards, is pulling out of the concept in late July. Bold Dog co-founder Jerome Stontz said he will shut down the brand “for the time being.” He said he and his wife, who is also part owner, hope to resurrect the brand as a small coffee shop, bakery and tavern.
“We love Chicago, but this is an extremely competitive market, especially for distribution,” Stontz said. “Ideally, we want to be on our own and not be dependent on a contract brewery as a host.”
In addition to beer, District Brew Yards’ Wheeling location will feature something for sentimental bowling enthusiasts: a memorial table built from the streets of Southport Lanes, a bar overlooking the lake and a bowling alley that close early in the pandemic after more than 100 years of operation, it was also owned by Soble.