Phase Three Brewing - Lake Zurich Takeover
When you arrive at the warehouse located about 30 miles northwest of the city, the only signage you can find says the taproom is under construction. The single indication to enter the rear was seeing the stream of bearded men with bottles coming from that direction - "This must be the place".
Phase Three's Lake County invasion began less than a year ago when Shaun Berns and Evan Morris announced that they would be contract brewing at Lake Zurich Beer Company in March. What began as a single fermenter arrangement quickly spread to Phase Three's beers occupying four. Fast forward a few months and the duo has officially announced their purchase of the space for an undisclosed amount.
The rapid fire nature of these moves is nothing new to this group. While brewing at More in Villa Park, Shaun and company took home 'Best In Show' at FOBAB after only being open for four short months. The frenzy around his beers has followed him since his days at RAM Schaumburg, and is quite frankly the wildest craft beer spectacle I've seen. Their recent P3 Ambassador Membership Program, offering first right of purchase on future releases, sold all of its available slots at a price of $300 each.
During the Curvature Batch 4 release this past weekend, you could sample pours from Evan of Batch 2 and 4 and cop their latest Double IPA juice bomb - Abstract Technicality. Speaking with the guys, they live near St. Charles and Lombard respectively. Lake County was an opportunity they couldn’t resist in part because they were already out there. Local industrial park zoning laws dictate that only 10% of their production brewery can be converted into retail space, so the tap room won't be nearly as big as the warehouse looks above but you can count on it still being a good time. They eluded to their hopes in the future that we can expect P3 to explore a satellite location in Chicago. If they pull that off, they’d be the first suburban outfit to successfully launch a remote location in the city.
West Loop’s 'Lone Wolf' is the de facto Three Floyd's Brewing bar; They consistently keep six FFF beers on draft. Naperville's Solemn Oath made headlines announcing they would open a Logan Square location in 2018; It’s still in the planning phase. Westmont's Whiskey Hill ( the artist formally known as Myths and Legends Brewing, before that Urban Legend Brewing) briefly opened in the Rogers Park neighborhood. That project was literally located on the wrong side of the tracks and has since been re-branded as Salerno’s Chicago Pizzeria.
There’s an excitement when trying keep up with the P3 weekly IPA release schedule. Over the summer, I'd run to Binny's on my lunch break and try to snag a 4pk or even at my local bottle shop after work. It was a full on frenzy trying to get your hands on these guys. We'd time out the tweets to see how long we thought it'd take them to get to the next stop and map out their routes - still no shame as I write/read it out loud. TWEET NOTIFICATIONS ON! That same excitement is amplified for the Curvature Stout series and the Pressed Imperial Coffee Porter series. The latter has featured west suburban roaster, Tugboat Coffee, in all the initial releases. It's arguable the coffee porter series is the most consistent killer lineup to date from Phase Three. They're nothing but massive, chewy, decadent perfectly blended coffee beers.
An 'anonymous' and only half serious suggestion was made that anyone who violates the P3 Ambassador rules by trying the purchase an extra bottle during the Curvature online sale should have their membership revoked! A customer from the waiting list should then be granted rights to join the program. According to Evan, none of the 400+ members attempted to double down on their Curvature allotment with such blasphemy. With a history of collaborating with some of the best brewers in the country and rows of bourbon barrels occupying the space, there will be no shortage of special releases coming from P3 this year.
Stay tuned this week for three releases from the group : Pixel Density (Returning IPA), Lost in the Moment (Staff favorite) , and Pressed:Hazelnut (Imperial Porter). Follow them on IG or Twitter to keep tabs on this crew.