The twin tanks bearing the images of happy geese are your first hint that something is brewing inside 1800 West Fulton Street. The aroma of hops confirms it. This is the home of Goose Island Beer Company (1800 West Fulton Street).
The West Town brewery has called the building home since 1995. Little has changed inside over the years—the staff still churns out premium craft beer and ships it far and wide. Even after being gobbled by a giant Belgian-Brazillian goose by the name of Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011 has done little to curb the small batch mentality of the Goose Island brewmasters. They do run a bit larger scale now—the brewery produces roughly 75,000 barrels a year.
A tour of the facility was featured during the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 2013 Open House Chicago. Every inch of the building is used to create and distribute the various Goose Island ales. It’s a utilitarian building, but with some nice touches, like glass block windows. Inside the brewhouse, the giant stainless tanks look a bit like Walter White’s beloved fictional drug lab.
Across the street from the main brewery sit Goose Island’s two barrel aging warehouses. Rows and rows of barrels sit and wait for time and the oak barrels to work their magic. It is the largest barrel aging program in America.
“We get used bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill Distilleries in Kentucky,” said Andrew Osterman, Goose Island brand manager. “An imperial stout can sit in the barrels for a full year. They actually breathe and the beer picks up the flavor from the barrel.”