[image-1]Lagunitas Brewing, one of the largest “craft brewers” in the nation, announced plans today to convert the landmark Southend Brewery downtown into a massive tap room and event space.

Details are few at this point, but the Petaluma, Calif.-based brewery slipped an update into a blog post today announcing the Taproom & Beer Sanctuary set for the historic building at the corner of Queen and East Bay streets. The new venture promises to be “a cornerstone location for Lagunitas in the Southeast,” the company says, with the existing 10-barrel brewhouse turning out small-batch and exclusive beers available only at the new Charleston taproom. (For reference, Edmund’s Oast operates a five-barrel brewhouse.) Lagunitas also says two stories of upstairs event space in the soaring warehouse building will be “made available” to local nonprofits to hold fundraisers.

[image-2]Besides its flagship space in California’s wine country, Lagunitas has one other taproom in Chicago, but it’s much larger than the planned Charleston “Beer Sanctuary.”

We’re eager to hear more details about the facility, but it’s hard to imagine this change doing anything but good for the East Bay corridor. On our cover back in September, we examined the ups and downs of the once-electric nightlife scene that’s since migrated north to Upper King Street. And while news of a big multinational brewery coming in (Heineken bought a 50 percent stake in Lagunitas in 2015) might not be welcome news for everyone, it’s hard to imagine an uber-local operation being the stewards of such a massive historic building. Urban Outfitters’ rehab of the Garden Theater on King Street could be seen as a comparably-daunting commitment. For what it’s worth, in a blog post Lagunitas founder Tony Magee says despite growth into Chicago and elsewhere, the company aims to retain a “genuinely local” presence.

We’ll be on the lookout for grand opening details and more as they’re available.