About a year and a half ago, I stopped in to Maplewood Brewery & Distillery to get a rundown on their operation for my personal blog. At the time, they figured they were a few months of construction and a permit away from opening their taproom to the public.
As co-founder Adam Cieslak puts it, just “490 short days later,” Maplewood Lounge finally opened on December 15. They’re Chicago’s first brewery and distillery under one roof, and they’ve put painstaking thought into how to reflect their passion for their beer and spirits in their public space.
I sipped their taproom-only Pale Ale, Fluffy Bottoms, recently while they were setting up their sound system. “We’ll have separate music in the bathrooms. It might be metal out here, but 'Girl from Ipanema' in the bathroom,” beams Adam Smith, a Maplewood brewer.
As we're chatting, Ari Megalis, who operates the distilling side of the business, carries out a giant bourbon glass with a special purpose, placing it next to the tower of taps. Megalis plants an Underberg for each of us on a table and, as we tip them back, he snatches up the little green caps and plunks them into the oversized glass container.
“I won’t drink at a place that doesn’t have Underberg,” he says. He won’t have to now that Maplewood Lounge is here.