Deschutes Brewery Makes Chicago Debut In January
By Jason Baldacci in Food on Oct 16, 2012 3:00PM
In January 2013, Illinois will become the easternmost state in the nation to distribute the fine beers made by Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon. They currently come as far as Missouri and Minnesota, and they're even all the way out in Alaska and Hawaii, so we here at Chicagoist are sure we aren't alone in our feeling that it's about time we get some Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter here in Chicago.
Deschutes is in the middle of an expansion project that, when finished, will bring their annual capacity up to 460,000 barrels. To put that in perspective, that's roughly three times the amount of beer that Goose Island can brew at their Fulton Market facility. They are counting on this expansion to satisfy their growing network of distributors across the nation, which is pretty significant since Deschutes was ranked the fifth-largest craft brewery by the Brewer's Association in 2011. Essentially, this means they're playing for keeps and making a move to stay on par with, and ahead of, other rapidly growing breweries like Lagunitas and Bell's.
The interesting part of the news is that Deschutes is going to be distributing through the Wirtz Beverage Group in Illinois. While Wirtz is mostly a liquor distributor here, they have successful beer outlets in Minnesota and Nevada, in addition to two other operations in Wisconsin and Iowa. Deschutes will be the first craft beer brand for a new beer division that Wirtz is building in Illinois, but for a company that has annual sales that reach almost $2 billion for the five states they serve, we have high hopes that they'll be able to figure it out for us here in Chicago.