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Aurora Woman Tagged As Lagunitas' Head Brewer In Chicago

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 15, 2013 7:30PM

2012_4_10_lagunitas.jpg Lagunitas Brewing Co.'s Tony Magee's frequent and somewhat cryptic updates regarding his company's upcoming brewhouse and taproom in Douglas Park. A series of tweets over the weekend offered some more answers, particularly as to who would be handling the brewing once the facility is up and running.

Magee started things by sending out the following tweet: "Here's an extra cool bit about the Chicago brewery - we've found our dream supreme head brewer there, and (wait for it) Her name is Mary!!!"

Magee added that his wife Carissa approved the hiring of Mary Nowak, which is a bold step forward in gender diversity in the hairy, male-dominated Chicago craft beer scene. It also means the largest brewery in Chicago and possibly the largest craft brewery in the country (once it's up and running) will be helmed by a woman.

So who is Mary Nowak? Well, Chicagoist is still waiting for a return call from Lagunitas to arrange an interview. What we do know (thanks to her wedding registry) is she grew up in Aurora, attended the University of Illinois where she majored in chemistry and minored in food science. She then worked for Anheuser-Busch for a couple years as a "relief brewmaster." Most recently, Nowak was a warehouse manager for Pepsi in Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband. (Magee said Nowak will be moving to Chicago as soon as she can.

Meanwhile, Magee's sister, Karen Hamilton, updated Chicagoist on the progress of the Douglas Park brewhouse construction. The brewing equipment currently en route to Chicago from Germany is expected to arrive in August or September. "The cement platforms for the fermenters should be completed by Sept. 1," Hamilton said.

Don't expect the tap room to open in autumn, either. Hamilton said they hope to have it ready by the end of the year, with the brewery going online by Feb. 2014. "But you know how that goes," she said.