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Brewing is in our Foundation

The Well at the Distillery can be traced back to 1857, founded by the Bielfeldt family. Through fire, flood and storm, they built a brewery and drilled a limestone well to make quality beer. After 60 years of growth, they were only stopped by the Prohibition Era.

It was at this time that the facility became a part of the Chicago gang history. Officially, a soda bottling plant, the facility began supplying the Southwest Side. Many speakeasies sprang up around Thornton and were the target of various raids by the authorities. As Al Capon’s empire grew, the distillery fell under his control and remained so until his fall in 1931. From there, various breweries would run out of Thornton. These included Thornton Brewing, Illinois Brewing, Frederick’s Brewing, McAvoy Brewing and White Bear Brewing, Inc.

Rum casks on racks
Piping of a limestone spring in a stone basement

In 1957, after 100 years, beer brewing ceased at the facility. While various businesses would come and go from the property, its heart, the limestone well, remained. It was this potential that was seen, and in 2014 restoration of the facilities began. After 4 years of work, the Well at the Distillery has installed new equipment and is producing a new product—distilled spirits. Between the violence and disasters it faced for over a century and a half, the Well is a testament of the enduring spirit of Chicago and its residents thirst for a quality drink.