Many of you have asked us how we got started and where are we headed! We love the question, so if I may indulge myself, I thought a quick blog might be appropriate. In a follow-up, I thought I could also blog about our “cast of characters” at the Church Street Brewing Company.
The Gregor family, headed by yours truly and my other half, Joe, have four kids who have all been dedicated and competitive swimmers; hence, we’ve spent many hours at practices and competitive meets (this is relevant as you will see later). Joe, being a longtime chemical engineer and an avid lover of beer, first came up with the idea of home-brewing when his son, Steven, home one Christmas holiday from West Point, said he was “home-brewing” with a couple professors up at West Point – he even had a recipe for us to try! My first thought was, “Huh!? What the heck are they teaching him there?!” — turns out it was related to some weekend project with a couple chemistry professors. Anyhow, Joe was enamored with the idea and immediately bought a home-brewing kit and went to work with Steven and his recipe. As a side note, Joe has traveled the world in his capacity as a chemical engineer and ‘tasted’ many brews – but, his all-time favorites are the German lagers, which is the Church Street Brewing Company’s foundation or “raison d’ être”. Yes, we have other types of beers, but our first love is dedicated to German lagers.
So, after Joe and Steven made their first “home brew” together, Joe was hooked – and, spent MANY hours dreaming of and conceiving a full-blown craft brewery during many a swim practice. This was approximately 10 years ago in 2007. He architected and designed the Church Street brewery to mimic and recreate the German lager decoction mash during those long swim practices.
We started looking for a building in 2010, and had finally settled on a location in Addison on Church Street in 2011. The Church Street Brewing Company had been born! We used the name for over a year and had a letter of intent to lease and start building out the brewery. Unfortunately, that location fell through – but, the name stuck because we really liked it and had been using it for a while. So, there you go, that’s the origin of the name. We finally found another location in Itasca, which is current location and started building out the brewery in April 2012. At that time, we brought on board TJ and John who helped build out the brewery and brew our first beers – it took 6 months to complete the build out. TJ is still with us as our master brewer, but John left a few years later to pursue other opportunities. In the Fall of 2012, we brought on board our charismatic sales/marketing leader, Chet.
So here’s the deal: I mentioned earlier in the blog that our first love were lagers, and the basis for building out the Church Street Brewing Company; but, the first beer we actually crafted was a Scottish Ale! Okay, sounds a bit crazy, but there just so happened to be an Itasca Craft Beer Festival taking place in 2012 (Itasca’s first!). And, we wanted to have a beer represented at the festival – after all, we’re representing our local community, right? So, in the interest of time (we were up against a very tight schedule), we chose to go with a Scottish Ale, which only takes 3 weeks to brew, as opposed to a lager, which takes 6 weeks. We cut it so close that we even hand-carbonated the day of the festival. But, we made it! And, it was well received.
Thereafter, we started brewing our lagers, starting with our now very popular, Helles. Since then, sales have been growing rapidly and spreading across the Chicago area. As we grew, we brought in others: Andrew in April 2015 and then Chuck/Austin later in the year of 2015.
If there’s interest, I’ll go into more detail about our staff – they’re a great bunch of folks and deserve some recognition…plus, they each have their own unique and interesting personality.
Now you know how we got started – hope you enjoyed it, and thanks for listening to this long-winded story. Prost!