When Two Brothers Brewing Company opened in 1996, a sold-out suburban Chicago beer summit was unfathomable.
But on March 8, at $25 per ticket, more than 200 people packed Nevin’s Brewing Company in Plainfield for the inaugural Illinois Suburban Brewers Summit. More than two dozen Chicago-area craft brewers kept the crowd hydrated with 4-ounce pours of their local brews. Presented by suburban craft beer blog, Ale to the Burbs, the event also featured a panel of brewing experts.
Chicago’s original craft brewer, Goose Island, was on hand along with Revolution, another well-known city brewer. But the summit’s beer lineup offered a level of depth the Chicago Bears defense could only dream to roll out.
Representing the west suburbs, the summit offered a selection of beers from Naperville’s Solemn Oath, Warrenville’s Two Brothers and Plainfield’s Nevin’s.
For our second episode, Sun-Times Media Local’s Over the Barrel podcast team was able to pull those three brewers away from their taps long enough to learn more about the Chicago suburb’s thriving craft beer culture.
Marc Wilson from Nevin’s, Steve Woertendyke from Two Brothers and Tim Marshall from Solemn Oath huddled between fermenting tanks with podcast co-hosts Charles Berman and Tracy Maple.
Q: Marc, what was the inspiration for the summit and has it met your expectations?
Marc Wilson: I was approached a few months ago by the guys from Ale to the Burbs about potentially hosting an event here. We talked back and forth about it and we decided on actually pulling this thing off. And their goal is to promote suburban brewing and promote events going on in the suburban market.
Q: Steve from Two Brothers, you guys opened in 1996 — you weren’t there in 1996, I don’t believe. This kind of event wouldn’t have been possible then. There wasn’t the amount of craft brewers; there wasn’t the amount of craft beer drinkers. From your perspective, how cool was it to participate tonight?
Steve Woertendyke: Really cool. I mean you had, at that time... Goose Island was the big push, a city brewer, starting the whole revolution that was going on here in the Chicagoland area. And we were kind of on the coattails of that, along with Three Floyds, at that time. We were both coming up around that same time, and started out what’s going on in the suburban market now, and then obviously having guys like these two is awesome, you know, perpetuating that.
Q: Tim, you are with Solemn Oath, just up the street in Naperville, real close to Plainfield. Tell us about the craft beer community and the culture that’s developed here.
Tim Marshall: Ah, it’s great! It is gigantic right now. There are actually suburban breweries that are popping up that have been off our radar, which is great to see. You know, we like to think that we are tuned in to everything that is going on, but there are just so many now, and so many people that are into it and want to open up and succeed. They’ll pop up by the brewery and they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re opening this place’ and it is always exciting to hear what their plans are. So it is overbearing sometimes... in a good way.
This excerpt was edited for length and context.