In 2011, I went to a homebrewing class at The Plant in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. At the time, New Chicago Brewing was in the process of opening a sustainable brewery in the space that would work symbiotically with several tenants that shared space in the old meatpacking warehouse.
The vertical farming project would have used spent grain to feed tilapia and mushrooms being raised on site as well as fuel a process that would create electricity for the entire facility. In 2012, the brewery rebranded as the now-closed Ale Syndicate and relocated due to the scale of the undertaking. This would clear the path for Whiner Beer Company to move in in 2015.
With a stunning taproom and some seriously funky and complex barrel-aged beers, Whiner is using the same vertical concept that provides energy and useful byproducts for several of the building's other tenants. They've even managed to become the driving force behind The Plant’s sustainability that New Chicago Brewing had envisioned.
While pulling up for a visit recently, I couldn’t help but notice a “beer” sign I had taken picture of during that homebrewing class a few years back. The sign used to live inside the building, but it's been given new life by Whiner, much like the rest of the property.