How Mikerphone Brewing Became the Hottest Thing in Chicago Beer

For the first few weeks Mikerphone was open, beer fans waited two to three hours to buy beer on bottle release days
Mikerphone Brewing
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

Bottle release days at Mikerphone typically draw lines before the brewery opens, even though per-customer limits mean they don’t necessarily have to arrive early.

It's 2:39 p.m. on a bright summer Thursday — 21 minutes until Chicago's Mikerphone Brewing opens its doors in an Elk Grove Village industrial park.

Seven people are already in line.

All are men, in an array of jeans, shorts, T-shirts, Cubs caps and sunglasses. One takes a drink from a bottle of water. All look at their phones to pass the time.

Two more guys arrive a couple of minutes apart, each wearing a T-shirt from a far-flung, buzz-worthy craft brewery — Crooked Stave in Denver and Boston's Trillium. They start chatting, naturally, about the finer points of rare beer releases.

An airplane just departing O'Hare roars directly overhead.

The line creeps up to 14 people.

Mikerphone, which is housed in a brick building that looks as if it could have once been a dentist's office — but in fact was a landscaping company — won't open for another 15 minutes.

The brewery resides in the largest contiguous industrial park in the nation, a 6-square-mile maze of tidy, curving streets that are home to 3,600 businesses and 80,000 employees. Mechanical supplies. Industrial signage. Heavy equipment. And, as of mid-March, beer. Mikerphone's neighbors were stunned that someone wanted to open a brewery in the industrial park. Who would go there to drink beer? How would people find it? Why would anyone care?

Well, they care.

For the first few weeks Mikerphone was open, beer fans waited two to three hours to buy beer on bottle release days and to drink in Mikerphone's cozy 45-person taproom. Because there are bottles-per-person limits on sales, people have realized they don't need to line up so early, or really at all. Still, they do.

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