We chose the name Wild Onion in honor of the origins of Chicago’s name. “Che-cau-gua” was the phrase the original inhabitants of the region, the Potawatomi, used to describe the wild onions that grew throughout the area’s wetlands near the shores of Lake Michigan. We loved the imagery of the early French Canadian fur traders paddling their canoes down the Chicago River, surrounded by the distinctly aromatic wild onions as they approached the “big lake”. We believed it was the perfect name for a new brewery with old ties to the city.
We’re proud to be one of Chicagoland’s first craft breweries, firing up our first batch of Paddy Pale Ale back in 1996.
From Dairy to Brewery
Our original brewery was built from used dairy tanks, scavenged from the fields of northern Wisconsin. It was fate, after all, to start with old dairy tanks for Wild Onion. Joe Kainz, family patriarch and CEO of the brewery, had grown up working in the dairy business his grandfather, Anton started in Chicago in the early 1900’s. Mike Kainz, founding brewer of Wild Onion, was drawn to brewing, in part, because of the stories his Dad would tell him of the Kainz Dairy on Mohawk street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.