By: Peter Frost, Crain’s Dining
It’s not just the city. The Chicago suburbs are starting to fill with beer.
On Dec. 18 Downers Grove will welcome Alter Brewing, a startup with an aggressive plan to sell beer all over the Midwest.
The word comes as news of Oak Park’s first brewery was just announced. Glenview is getting one, too.
Alter is putting the final touches on its 6,600-square-foot taproom and brewery in an industrial park on the DuPage County village’s west side, where it has a 20-barrel brewing system and capacity to produce nearly 10,000 barrels a year.
Founded by two veterans of Chicago’s trading pits and an experienced home brewer, Alter will debut its first round of five beers in its 1,500 square-foot taproom a week before Christmas.
“With our current equipment, we’d love to get to 7,500 to 10,000 barrels in pretty short order, and we have a long-term goal to be a regional brewery, which is anything over 15,000 barrels,” said co-founder David Yob, a former LaSalle Street trader. “We eventually want to make enough beer to supply the entire Midwest.”
Alter, whose other partners are fellow trading industry veteran Pete Kosanovich and head brewer Mark Hedrick, will start as a self-distributing, draft-only brewery. Plans call for installing a canning line in 2016 and picking up a distributor to service accounts throughout northern Illinois.
Despite intensifying competition for the craft-beer dollar in the Chicago area, which now boasts more than 145 breweries, Yob is confident Alter will have a place on the region’s tap handles and in consumers’ refrigerators.
“Our opinion is that there’s room for plenty of quality breweries in this area. We think there’s plenty of room in the western suburbs for sure,” he said.
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Its opening beers include Batch 1, a Belgian-style IPA; Dimension, a Belgian-style dubbel; Dank You, an American double IPA; Center Line, a golden ale, and a yet-to-be-named Imperial brown ale. Aside from the golden ale, which checks in at 6.2 percent alcohol by volume, all of its other styles pack a hefty punch, with each registering at 7.4 percent or higher.
“We’re not locked into just these (bigger) beers,” Yob said. “We’re going to be doing a lot of different beers–anything from a 3.5 percent gose up to 10.5 percent barleywines. Our goal is to do our interpretation of the world’s beer styles, and there are a lot of different beers we can and will make.”
Alter also plans a barrel-aging program. Woodford Reserve whiskey barrels will be used to age its imperial brown ale and a forthcoming imperial stout.
Alter is Downers Grove’s first production brewery. It joins Emmett’s Brewing, a downtown brewpub that brews traditional European-style beers it sells only on its premises.