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Craft beer maker’s Lincolnshire operations move to Zion

This 109-year-old building 2701 Deborah Ziis home future brewery. | TinJohansson~for Sun-Times Media

This 109-year-old building at 2701 Deborah in Zion is home to a future brewery. | Tina Johansson~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 14, 2012 6:04AM

ZION — A handcraft brewery, the former Flatlander’s Restaurant & Brewery in Lincolnshire, will open in the historic Warwick Building under the name of Big Chicago Brewing Co.

The owners have leased 3,701 square feet at Warwick, 2701 Deborah Ave., on the city’s east side with options for additional space.

The Zion City Council has approved a special permit to Russ Sher and Tom Inghram, owners of the brewery. Zion was chosen over other possible sites because, as Sher said, the Warwick Building has “the character and craft atmosphere” they were are looking for.

Sher said brewing equipment, now stored in Mundelein, will be moved to the new location. The Lincolnshire facility has been closed.

The owners received Zion approval on their second try. The initial presentation of their plans back in June was received with reservations. Zion, formerly a dry town, did not end its alcohol prohibition until 2004.

According to the owners, they plan to brew and bottle craft beer at the Zion facility and also on contract for other brewers who do not have their own brewing plants.

Mindful of Zion’s sensitive prohibition past, there will be no retail sales. However, beer and liquor are already sold in a handful of Zion stores and restaurants.

The owners pointed out that brewing is “a very big operation which uses large quantity of water which they recycle.” The brewery will employ 10 to 20 local people.

Although the brewery will be called Big Chicago, Sher indicated the Flatlander’s name will be kept for their restaurant business.

The sprawling Warwick Building, boasting 385,000 square feet on 27 acres, was built, as memorialized by a plaque in front of it, “by Dr. John Alexander Dowie as part of Zion Industries.”

Dowie, a Scottish evangelist and faith healer, is the founder of the city and the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church. The building had been used as a lace factory “as one of the Zion’s first steps in an era of progress,” says the plaque. The lace factory’s products are said to have been sold at the former Marshall Field & Co. store in Chicago.

The 109-year-old red brick building, apparently well-preserved, is owned by four unnamed partners of the Deborah Avenue Investors based in Mundelein.

Among current tenants are L&M Corrugated, Top Ten Trucking, Dungeon Haunted House and Skipper Bud’s, which has boat storage in the building.

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