Brewery one step closer to opening

McHENRY – Seventy years after McHenry Brewing Company closed its doors, another brewery is looking to take its place at 3425 W. Pearl St.

The McHenry City Council approved a conditional use permit and liquor license Monday for Chain O’Lakes Brewing Company, owned by Curt and Linda Ames of Johnsburg.

The approval is contingent upon a background check and employees having proper training certification.

“I know a lot of the residents are excited to see something come back to this location,” Alderman Jeffrey Schaefer said.

The Ameses hope to have the place, which has been empty since Green Pearl Restaurant shut down in June 2010, open sometime between mid-June and the beginning of July, in time for Fiesta Days, Curt Ames said.

Work needs to be done to bring the building up to code and install the brewing equipment, he said.

The plan is to establish the microbrewery and taproom on the first floor where customers can taste, drink on-site and buy large sealed containers of beer known as growlers to take home, according to city documents. The second floor will house offices and will not be open to the public.

Food will not be served, but people will be able to bring their own or order in. The hours won’t be typical of a bar either, tentatively set at 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

“I don’t want to run a bar or compete with people who run bars,” Ames said.

Ames has been a home-brewer since 1988 and thought about opening a business. He stayed with the Marine Corps though, retiring in 2010. Over the years, he took courses and worked at a couple microbreweries, learning the trade.

The Ameses have come and gone from the area over the years, most recently moving back in June.

“Two things I’m trying to sell: The first thing is that when you walk through the doors, it really represents the Chain O’Lakes, McHenry and veterans,” Ames said.

“And when it comes to beer, I want it to taste the way you imagine good beer tasting and let people experience a wide variety of beers. It will be a place for people to hang out.”

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