Over the past couple of years, the Fox River Valley is starting to rival downtown Chicago in the sheer number of craft breweries. The tri-cities of St. Charles, Geneva, and Batavia alone can boast 11 locations and Sturdy Shelter Brewing is the newest of these, located beside the Fox River in historical downtown Batavia.
Co-owner and brewer, Frank Mercadante along with his wife Diane, and General Manager Oliver Bulley have created a taproom and brewery that has become an important meeting place in the Batavia community, plus the all-important brews are well made and there is something for everyone.
The Brit and co-host Ken McMullen (brewmaster at Hopvine Brewing) visited with the Sturdy Shelter team one Monday when the brewery was closed and we could sit down and enjoy some good conversation, and sample some of their current taplist. We find out how the name of the Italian Pilsner came about, the history of the building, and plans for the future.
Francesco, Italian Style Pilsner, ABV 5.6%
Batavia Lager, Helles Style Lager, ABV 5.5%
Huckleberry Sour, Fruited Kettle Sour, ABV 4.3%
Pulped Up! Tropical, New England Hazy IPA, ABV 7.1%
Robustacious, Imperial Red Ale, ABV 7.5%
Porter, ABV 5.3%
Here’s our short ‘teaser’ video showing the brewery…
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We begin a new series of podcasts where we try to delve a little deeper into the business of craft beer. We want to go Behind the Pint. To kick us off, we’re asking if Craft Beer is really just beer, or if it’s a marketing ploy that has exploded into an industry.
We have three local Chicago industry experts, 2 brewers and one craft beer guru, on hand to pass opinions and talk about the topic in general. First up is my co-host for this episode. brewmaster at Hopvine Brewing in Aurora IL, Ken McMullen. Supporting the brewing side is owner/brewer Chris Valleau from Forest Park’s Exit Strategy Brewing. And finally, beer consultant, educator and writer, and international beer judge, Marty Nachel who helps provide the bridge between the brewers and the consumer. Phil ‘The Brit’ Clark asks the questions, and of course we all have something good to drink while we chat, which we list below.
What’s the final verdict on ‘craft beer’ – listen in and find out! Cheers!!
What We Are Drinking:
The Brit – Orenda Vol 2, Orenda – Volume 2 (Grape Brandy 2017-2021), 11.0% ABV, Pollyanna Brewing
Ken – Double BBA Vlad the Second Mexican Chocolate, Russian Imperial Stout, 14.1% ABV, Hailstorm Brewing
Chris – Corazón, Mexican hot chocolate-inspired Milk Stout, 7.2% ABV, Exit Strategy Brewing
It was beautiful Fall weather when we headed down to Tinley Park to record our latest episode outside in a beer garden. We’re at Banging Gavel Brews who have been brewing since the end of 2014 but still have not been able to brew or serve at their chosen location, the historic Vogt House, for a variety of reasons. Instead, they have opened up a fantastic beer garden, complete with their version of a ‘jumbotron’ so their patrons can enjoy the outside, drink their great brews, and watch their favorite college and pro sports.
Owner Jim Richert and head brewer J.T. Rea welcome The Brit and co-host Ken McMullen with samples of their current tap list, and relate the tale of their historic house that will eventually become their brewpub. We hear about the buildings’ origins and the problems encountered during the reconstruction, but the end is hopefully in sight!
Join us to hear about the brews, the beer name origins and the the theme of their brewery, plus we find out about J.T’s background and how he started in brewing and the path life took him to be at BGB. We recommend a visit before the beer garden closes on Oct 31st. After that it is back to cans only as the way of obtaining some of their very drinkable beer
Civil Code, Märzen, 5.7% ABV
Amicus Curiae, Kölsch, 4.5% ABV
Offshore Trust, Tropical IPA, 5.1% ABV
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Milk Money Brewing was a victim of the Covid pandemic insomuch as it delayed their opening and when they did open, it wasn’t the ‘hurrah’ that normally accompanies a new brewery opening. Erik Pizer is the brewer at the LaGrange location, and in this episode we hear from him about his beers and what Milk Money is doing to set itself apart from other brewpubs.
Ken McMullen and The Brit sample some of his brews, and the great food that is being served up. Erik has managed to produce a great range of classic and new styles, and The Brit finds a pal who also doesn’t like coconut in beer! We recommend a trip to LaGrange for brews and dinner! Cheers!
Queen Takes Pawn, English Bitter, 5% ABV
LaGrange Lager, American Lager, 4.2% ABV
Milk Money, Milk Stout, 7.5% ABV
Amai, Witbier, 4.9% ABV
Here’s a link to the YouTube channel video:
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