The Next Wave Breweries

The Next Wave Breweries The beer industry in Chicago – and nationwide – continues to explode with growth. The Brewer’s Association’s mid-2015 report tells the story in numbers: from 1,779 in 2011 to 3,739 total breweries in 2015. Brewery-in-planning announcements and brewery openings are now weekly occurrences. Indeed, it’s a good time to be drinking in America. That’s especially true in Chicago. Chronicling the growth of our beer scene is a task Mash Tun Journal takes seriously. Every year, we highlight emerging breweries from Chicagoland, ones we think stand apart from the many new faces on the block. We selected these breweries because we think they have the stuff it takes to become Chicagoland’s next great brewery. This year, we crossed the border to include two Indiana breweries whose beers deserve the attention of Chicagoland drinkers. Many of the Next Wave Breweries we featured were started by homebrewers who found their way to the big leagues. Some of these brewers incubated their brewery concepts at their friends’ breweries. No matter their story, they all went through hell to get a seat at the table. It’s up to you to decide how long they will last. Give these Next Wavers a try. Tell them Mash Tun Journal sent you. Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Co. Year Founded: 2014 Location: Merrillville, Indiana Run By: Steve Carter, Bob Lusin, Mark Malucinich, Chris Pearson Head Brewers: Bob Lusin and Chris Pearson Flagship Beer: My Ghetto, American IPA When the band breaks up, turn to beer. Gathering at Crown Brewing for their homebrew club meetings, Steve Carter, Bob Lusin, and Chris Pearson became fast friends. They also shared common interests other than good beer: they were all musicians and metalheads. Instead of making music together, they channeled their creativity into brewing. After garnering advice from kind beer folks at Crown Brewing, Three Floyd’s, and Revolution Brewing, the team decided on a name – named after Bob’s mother’s favorite flower – and the plan for Devil’s Trumpet was put into place. Chris tends to focus on making beer with an American influence. As such, the brewery has become known for brewing hoppy beers, like Make It a Cheeseburger IPA and Puffy Stack Black IPA. Bob’s love of barrel-aged and Belgian-inspired beers has produced offerings like Fires of Rome Wild Ale and Juggling Elephants Saison, which add to the diverse ranks of Devil’s Trumpet’s constantly rotating tap list. Count on aromatic and flavorful beers from their 3.5-bbl brewhouse. You can also count on most of their beers being named after their favorite metal songs. Available at their taproom in Merrillville, Devil’s Trumpet beer is also served at area restaurants and bars, and in 22-ounce bottles at Indiana liquor stores. – Elizabeth Garibay Imperial Oak Brewing Year Founded: 2014 Location: Willow Springs, IL Run By: Chris DiBraccio, Grant Hamilton, and Brett Semenske Head Brewer: Brett Semenske Flagship Beer: Prediction?…Pain! Double IPA Imperial Oak Brewing was born of a love of high gravity barrel-aged beers, a passion that was stoked by a bar owner’s support of homebrewing, after Brixie’s Beer Bar owner, Chris DiBraccio, began sponsoring a local homebrew club. Every second Wednesday of the month, Brixie’s Brewers came together to share homebrew, recipes, and strike up conversation about the beer. Wanting to create a place that focused on small batch and variety, Chris teamed up with Grant Hamilton and Brett Semenske, a couple of the Brixie’s Brewers. Notable beers include Prediction?…Pain! Double IPA and Frankenstein’s Daughter Saison. Focused on brewing small-batch beers, Imperial Oak is best experienced at source, their taproom. But if you want to take home some of Willow Spring’s finest, grab one of their 32-ounce crowlers (aluminum can growlers). Crank It Dank IPA, hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Equinox, is a perfect candidate for savoring these last few days of summer.  – Elizabeth Garibay Noon Whistle Brewing Year Founded: 2014 Location: Lombard, IL Run By: Jim Cagle, Mike Condon, Paul Kreiner Brewer: Paul Kreiner Flagship Beers: Cozmo Pale Ale and Bernie Milk Stout Longtime childhood friends, Jim Cagle, Mike Condon, and Paul Kreiner went from playing tee-ball and talking about girls to playing with brewing equipment and talking about low-ABV beers. Already an experienced homebrewer and beer distribution vet, Paul rounded out his beer skillset by attending Siebel Institute. Inspired by the town whistle that blew at lunchtime – cue for an afternoon beer – the trio places an emphasis on high quality, low alcohol. Session beers are the mainstay, but sours are also becoming a staple. The draft list in the taproom is extensive and impressive, as is the space. Crowlers and growlers are available for to-go purchase. Outside their taproom, Noon Whistle’s brews can be found at over 40 bars and restaurants in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. – Elizabeth Garibay Wildrose Brewing Company Year Founded: 2015 Location: Griffith, Indiana Run By: David DeJong, Karen DeJong, Ed Halajcsik, Kevin Krippel, Tony Nichols Brewer: David DeJong Flagship Beer: Big Sexy, American Pale Ale After frequently coming together over beers, the neighbors on Wildrose Lane began making it together. Once Dave outgrew his Mr. Beer kit, his neighbors not only encouraged him to buy better equipment, they asked him to buy them brewing equipment, too. Beers were brewed and shared. Techniques and recipes were improved. Then, the crew headed west and enrolled in Tom Hennessy’s Brewery Immersion Course. They spent time making beer at Echo Brewing Company in Frederick, Colorado in order to learn how to go adapt their homebrewing know-how to making beer on a 7-bbl system. Soon after, the quintet established Wildrose Brewing Company. You’ll find at least six beers on draft when you head to Wildrose, including their popular Big Sexy APA and Mad Cow milk stout. Be sure to check out Mornin’ James, an imperial coffee stout brewed with Bridgeport Coffee Company beans and aged in Journeyman Distillery barrels. Although the brewery focuses on pale ales and stouts, they plan to expand their portfolio with the introduction of their Oktoberfest and a fall…

Dos and Don’ts: A Beer Buyer’s Decree to Consumers

By Clarence Boddicker Everyone approaches the world of craft beer differently. Most come at it from the customer’s point of view, and in last issue, we saw an interesting look from the perspective of the brewer.   How about a glance at beer from the off-premise world? I manage a beer store in suburban Chicago, and I thought it might be informative to throw some light on my world.   The best way to show you the day-to-day of my world is to help inform those coming into any store about what one should do, and more importantly, not do when beer shopping.   Do: Establish a relationship with your beer person. We are a local store and want to take care of our regulars. We will do nice things for people who are nice to us. Be friendly. Ok, friendly might be too far. I would settle for neighborly. Just acknowledge that we saw each other in aisles, say hello and go about our day. That buys a lot of equity with me. But not as much as a plate of brownies would.   Don’t: Have a hissy fit if we don’t have the hot release of the week. There will never be enough beer for everyone. You need to come to grips with that. I told you we didn’t have a specific beer, I didn’t give you a terminal diagnosis. Don’t stomp your feet, roll your eyes and groan at the sky. Please don’t act like a petulant child. I don’t want to be put in a position where I wished that I did give you a terminal diagnosis. Somehow, that ends up making me look bad.   Do: Engage us. We want to help you with your weirdly random but still very precise questions. We don’t want every interaction to be reduced to monosyllabic grunts and pointing, we happily leave those exchanges to the gentlemen in the liquor department. I always perk up when someone is attending a theme party and needs an incredibly specific beer. It keeps us sharp and on our toes, and I appreciate that.   Don’t: Be rude. Real basic stuff here. If I’m helping someone else and you walk right into our conversation and start talking at me, the quality of service you will receive will reflect that. It is just as easy to, hypothetically, tell you we are sold out of the beer in question and turn around sell it to someone polite the minute you walk away. Less is always more, and that includes your presence.   Do: Show me pictures. Of the beer label, please, not of your embarrassing birthmark. “Yeah, I guess it does kind of look like Nevada…” The new technology is a great time saver for all parties involved. It gets trying when he/she come in, and says, “I had this beer in a bar last night, I can’t remember what it was, but it starts with a “J.” Later on, when you tell me it was Bell’s Oberon, I grimly realize I will never get a moment of that time back. You have a camera in your pocket, use it.   Don’t: Expect me to read minds. This scenario happens a few times every week. A customer will walk up and say “Yeah, I want to try something I haven’t had before,” and then look expectantly and impatiently at me for 30 seconds. Fortunately, that is about of time it takes me to wrap my head in a turban and offer suggestions. How on God’s green earth do you expect me to summon the powers to ascertain which beers you might have had recently without you verbalizing it? Imagine, after looking at the menu, asking a waiter at a restaurant that same question? His mouth would eventually go dry from all the time spent spitting in your food. How about flushing out that question in your mind a little bit first? And, trust me, if I could read minds, I sure as hell wouldn’t be standing here talking to you. And for what’s its worth, I do look pretty good in a turban.   Do: Ask how we are doing, or even overextend the social barriers of our interaction and say, “Thanks,” or “Have a good day.” We might be the help, but we still like to be treated with respect. This one gentleman once asked a question, quickly interrupted me, stated he was looking for something else and quickly walked away. He came over a few moments later and apologized to me for being rude. That was well over 3 years ago and I still vividly remember him doing that. He didn’t have to, but it was nice that he did. We deal with so many people, and well over 90% of them are great. However, we only remember the great interactions and the bad ones. Act like a good person, and you will be remembered as one.   Bonus insight for the Industry Side:   Do: Express gratitude. This is a business, and I get that. Everyone wants space in the cooler, a prime spot on the shelf or an end cap. It helps sales, I get that. But I am more likely to give that real estate to someone who takes a moment to let me know they appreciate the things we do for them. Nothing draws my ire more than the new sales rep who storms in and starts to tell me that I need to carry more of his/her product. If you start by thanking me for helping your brand, I will listen, because that means you value our relationship. I like that, beer managers enjoy the sensation of being validated. I always remember the people who show simple, common courtesy. Any other approach will cause my eyes to gloss over and make me wish you were pinned under something heavy with many ill-tempered fire ants nearby. I will ask you to leave, but not before I have you take…

Interview with Beejay Oslon of Pipeworks Brewery

Pipeworks Brewing Company started as a crowd sourced nano brewery in a non descript building on Western Avenue right by the Western Blue Line Stop. Many people the world over are enamored with their big and bold beers sold mostly in bomber bottles. The brewery developed a cult following for drinkers and became the defacto brewing school for aspiring Chicago brewers as well. In the past few years if you wanted to start your own brewery with your own money, chances are you went to Pipeworks and if you were lucky, learned how to use their Psychobrew system. If you were smart you took notes on how to turn your art form into a business. And Pipeworks is the best case study in the Art of Beer Business. They just opened their new expansion facility on the west side of Chicago allowing them to immediately triple their annual output of beer and allow for further growth. And their line of 16oz canned beers has become a hit with drinkers in Chicago, New York and soon the world. Within the next few years this new expansion operation is on track to become one of the biggest breweries in Illinois next to Lagunitas, Revolution and Half Acre. I checked in with Beejay Oslon, to ask him a few questions on their new production facility and where they are headed next. -Edmar   High Life or PBR? – PBR Can you please tell us what were the greatest challenges you encountered on the road to opening the new facility? – There have been a lot of challenges in opening the new facility. A project of this scale requires depending on a lot of different people, ranging from architects to contractors, various tradesmen, fabricators, trucking companies, and suppliers to name a few. Choreographing so many moving parts was a constant challenge, especially when any one part falling through caused a ripple effect with other players. We heard you might dedicate the original brewery to making mostly sours, can you make this an official announcement? And if so what styles will you be doing? – I don’t want to make any promises regarding the original facility yet, but it is definitely our intention to start working with sours at that location eventually. Styles will range from the berlinners we’ve been working on to more traditional Belgian styles like flemish reds and lambic influenced beers, and of course we wouldn’t be Pipeworks if we didn’t make some weird ass sours that defy categorization. For now the focus is on getting the new production facility running smoothly before we begin working on any new projects. What’s the general plan for the new space, what brews can we expect and in what frequency? – In general, the plan with the new space is to keep doing what we’ve always done, by continuing to make intriguing flavorful beers. We will continue to showcase our higher ABV and more experimental beers in the bomber format, though now with larger batches which will hopefully cut down on the perceived rarity while allowing us to drop our prices on many products. The addition of the canning line has allowed us to make more sessionable beers, as well as make significant price drops on fan favorites like Ninja Vs. Unicorn. When we first interviewed you guys in Mash Tun Journal  a few years ago you mentioned your business model was a Chicago Specific model. Has that changed since you are on the path to brew a ton of beer? Right now on average, each week, we are doing one 90bbl batch of a canned beer as well as a 30bbl batch of bottled beer. So we aren’t currently coming out with as many different brands each week as we did at the original facility. That being said we are already in the process of adding more fermenters which will allow us to simultaneously release more brands as we continue to grow. – Our focus will always be on satiating the Chicago market, however we have laid the groundwork for a brewery capable of the possibility of outgrowing our home market. With that in mind, we have begun exploring other markets such as New York and Europe. I think it’s important to begin building those relationships now rather than waiting till we’ve already saturated our home market. You don’t want to run into a situation where you have a warehouse full of beer with no one to drink it. Again we are not trying to cheat our long time fans out of beer here at home. We are building these alternative markets up slowly and organically exactly the way started here in Chicago. What the best advice you can give to the breweries that are following in your footsteps and the and breweries in planning? Is the much ballyhooed craft beer bubble gonna burst? – For anyone considering getting into this business, the most important thing is quality of product. It doesn’t matter how cool your labels are or how cool you look on instagram if you are putting out a shitty product. Fundamental brewing science is infinitely more important than coming up with some off the wall molecular gastronomy inspired ancient ale. That might sound strange coming from the owner of a brewery like Pipeworks, but with as many new breweries that are opening we are seeing more and more fundamentally flawed product on the shelves. The best thing you can do as a hopeful brewery owner is get some real world brewing experience before risking your life’s savings. Either you will gain the knowledge you need to make a superior product or you will realize that maybe the brewing industry isn’t really for you after all. Either way you’ll be making a gain. I don’t think that we will see a craft beer bubble burst any time soon, however that doesn’t mean that we won’t see some of the newcomers closing their doors.

Glen Ellyn’s Craft Beer Evangelist, Dave Hawley

    As owner of The Beer Cellar, a bottle shop in Glen Ellyn, IL, Dave Hawley is providing west suburban drinkers a modest but well-curated selection or craft beers. His insights into the beer industry are marked by the enthusiasm of a beer geek and the smarts of an entrepreneur. His beard is mighty. His heady, shiny. Dave Hawley, everyone.   Chicago’s beer scene is blowing up. Thoughts on its development and direction?   It’s good and bad. In my opinion, the access to great beer has never been better. It’s not hard to find great taprooms, breweries, and bottle shops all over the city. Some great breweries in Chicago start out with very limited production capabilities, who are now growing and able to produce more beer and in more formats. It’s encouraging to see breweries like Pipeworks­, who started out small and won lots of awards, be able to channel that into sustained growth.   On the flip side, because beer is hot right now, some sub-par breweries and taprooms have opened up and will exist for a while. Some people have tried to take their love for homebrewing and parlay that into running a brewery, and those two things are very different.   Overall, I think the Chicago beer scene is heading in the right direction. It has been fun to watch friends create some of the best beer in the country!   The suburbs are getting wacky, too. Bring us up to speed on suburban craft beer and what Chicagoans should know about it.   There are plenty of good reasons for Chicagoans to come out to the burbs! We have awesome breweries like Penrose (Geneva), Solemn Oath (Naperville), and BuckleDown (Lyons), that not only make great beer, they have nice taprooms, too, where you can spend a few hours enjoying beer in a cool environment. Penrose has impressed me since the beginning, but the beers they’ve been brewing lately like Deminimus Mandarina are some of the most tasty I’ve had lately. We have some excellent craft beer bars, too, like Bigby’s Pour House (Addison) and Warren’s Ale House (Wheaton). Out here you are no longer forced to shop at big box stores for craft beer. The Beer Cellar (Glen Ellyn) was the first craft-beer-only bottle shop to open in the suburbs. The Beer Cellar is dedicated to providing the freshest selection of craft beer to the burbs.   Any advice for Chicago-area breweries looking to grow their brand?   Be outgoing and continually look for opportunities to participate in festivals and talk to people about your beer. Working in a retail environment, I’ve found that people love to try new things and support local brands. So many customers want to experience what Chicago and the suburbs have to offer, and will decide to buy a local brand simply because of its proximity to them. I often do tastings in the shop, and if an enthusiastic rep, brewer, or brand ambassador spends the evening pouring samples and talking to customers, they also walk away with new fans. Getting out there, meeting your customers, and telling your story is so important.   What about out-of-market breweries about to enter market?   To piggyback on the last question, having a face and a name attached to your brewery is so important. In today’s craft beer market, I am personally getting calls, emails, and visits from dozens of breweries every week, asking me to sell their products. There are so many breweries and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, so when a brewery makes an effort to send a rep to talk to me in person, it makes a huge difference. Again, the willingness to have face-to-face interactions and spend time building relationships is key. Remember that it’s your job to sell your beer – don’t just depend on the distributor.   You’re about to hop on the Metra from Glen Ellyn – in fact, there’s a stop located across from your shop. You grab three beers for the road. Which ones, and why?   First of all, this is a great question, because I do indeed stock single beers in the cooler for this very purpose. I would grab: Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils. It’s 19.2 ounces, so it’s perfect for a train ride from Glen Ellyn to Lombard (I mean, Chicago). Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. This 5.2% pale ale is the quintessential Chicago pale ale. Any Mikerphone or Slapshot beer that comes in a Big Ass Can. Seriously, these guys are making awesome beer, and their cans give you 24 ounces of liquid bliss.

Scott Marvel of Teetsy

Scott Marvel started the brand Teetsty a decade ago and his quirky illustrative handiwork has been featured on dozens of beer festival and event t-shirts. You’ve seen him, tucked away in a corner with a clothing rack, portable silk screen rig, and usually a handsome helper or colleague furiously screening away. Scott and his friends collaborate on designs and hand screen them live during these events and if yer lucky, you managed to grab one. Scott, why did you start Teetsy? And why hand screened shirts and posters? I started Teetsy in 2005 as another way to create and get my designs out there.  I work in video, so I think I was longing for a tangible product version of my designs.  At first the posters were hand-screened, but the shirts were made by pros with some heavy gear.  Eventually I started screening everything myself so that I could screen as few or as many of a design when I wanted to without raising money for a huge run of shirts. Lots of events and shows just feature a merchandise table with posters and shirts piled up on them for sale. Why do you produce these items live? And why are they free?! Nothing’s really free.  At the beer events I get to drink, so that’s pretty good payment.  I also like to get the designs out there.  The last event I did, someone came up to me just as I was about to tear everything down and asked that I make him a shirt of the design I was doing because he had all of the “Bridgeport Series” and didn’t want to miss one.  That’s pretty cool.  Also, some friends of mine sent me a photo of a guy wearing one of the shirts at another beer event that I wasn’t at.  It’s great to know these designs are out there. How did you get involved with the craft beer culture and what drew you to this scene? I lived near Hopleaf in Andersonville when it opened and I saw the craft beer wave crest there.  Years later I discovered Maria’s.  I immediately dug Maria’s and Ed and the punk rock nature of the Co Po Sphere.  There’s a great energy to what’s happening in and around all of that, so I really am honored to be a part of it. Can you tell us what your favorites beers are and what you like about them? Unlike everyone I know, I’m not a big IPA guy.  I like pilsners and stouts and light-colored smoked beers.  

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