History in short: Elmhurst Brewing will be celebrating its five- year anniversary on Saturday, Feb. 4. Owners Frazer Donaldson and Pete Dolan were longtime craft beer fans who put together a team of investors/advisors while researching potential locations for a brewery. During the construction phase in 2017, they hired Cam Horn, who was serving on the operations side at a large brewery in Texas. “I really wanted to get my creativity going again and actually see the people who are drink- ing my beer,” Horn tell us with a laugh. The result? Horn and Elmhurst Brewing are just shy of creating 200 unique beers in only five years of operation.
The space: Elmhurst’s im-pressive space comes by way of a complete gut rehab of an old warehouse, with a distinct desire to create a stylishly modern industrial vibe while retaining some old-school features (check out the old brewery drawings on the walls). Being that they’re located in the heart of downtown Elmhurst, there was a goal to be inviting to everyone, and espe- cially comfortable for families. A 50-seat mezzanine section above the taproom is ideal for overflow on the weekends and as an event space, or even a perch for live music when needed. Check out their open-mic, comedy and triv- ia nights too, as well as some solid daily and happy-hour specials. And when the weather is nice, the enclosed, sun-soaked beer garden is a day-long destination. Interesting note: Elmhurst’s management team makes it a habit to go out to local breweries to lend their support, usually making a group outing out of it and bouncing between several venues in one night. “It really keeps everything fresh for us,” Horn says. “We love seeing what others are doing, meeting with them and supporting fellow craft brewers.”
What we’re drinking: Go To Helles is a light, crisp and malty German-style lager that goes down easy, and Tipped Off is a winter IPA brewed with toasted coriander and fresh blue spruce tips. Looking for something heartier? A Real Nice Surprise is a tasty barrel-aged barleywine that is perfect for a blustery winter night. Not to be forgotten is Julius Squeezer, a delectable hazy IPA that has made a regular home in our fridge.
On the horizon: New head chef Alex Rubenic, who was hired in July, is excited about the beer dinners they’ll be hosting every other month. “We’ve really made a name for ourselves with the quality of food we’re making here, and we’re looking forward to some quality pairings with our beer. This is more than pub food. We’re really elevating that component of the business.” Leading up to the Feb. 4 anniversary, El- mhurst Brewing will be re- leasing five of the favorite original beers from when they launched — one each week in January. And don’t forget a barrel-aged version of Smooth Jammies that is sure to be a hit, as well as a few secret kegs they have hidden until February.
From the brewery: “Our brewery wouldn’t be here, in the state that it is, without the collaborative effort of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild as a whole and the community. It’s a robust scene, and there’s an appreciation of good craft beer from the people in Il- linois. It’s all very exciting, and refreshing for sure.” — Head brewer Cam Horn
~ Winter 2023 Issue – Illinois Brewing