CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake will soon have a beer to call its own.
Longtime residents John O’Fallon and Chuck Ross have been given the green light by the City Council to open a brewery in downtown Crystal Lake that will provide beer to local restaurants, bars and liquor stores.
The council created a new liquor license classification to allow O’Fallon and Ross to become the first people in the city to launch a local brewery.
O’Fallon, a software development provider by trade, said he saw a clear void to fill in the city with the craft beer craze somehow bypassing the area. With 15 years of home brewing experience, he said the opportunity is a dream come true.
“Craft beer is growing like crazy throughout the rest of the country ... and we were kind of surprised it hasn’t made it here,” O’Fallon said. “This is every home brewer’s dream.”
The fledgling company, simply named Crystal Lake Beer Company, will be located in the old Reichert Chevrolet and Grand Rental Station building at 150 N. Main St. While the building was larger than the partners initially planned, O’Fallon said it had perfect ceiling heights and space for housing the equipment needed for a brewery.
The business will primarily focus on packaging and distributing its beers to area restaurants, bars and liquor stores, but a small tap room will be available for people to enjoy the beer on-site and take a tour of the brewery.
O’Fallon said only the beer brewed in the building would be available for those in the tap room and no food would be served. Those venturing into the tap room will be treated to a wider selection.
Up to eight original beers could be available in the tap room, including more experimental brews such as a dark oatmeal stout, O’Fallon said. Only three to four beer varieties will be distributed throughout the region, including two flagship brews and one or two limited selections.
“I have to say almost everyone has been incredibly positive and looking forward to supporting us,” O’Fallon said of feedback from bars and restaurants. “We’re going to be looking at distributing throughout the county and northern Illinois from day one.”
If everything goes as planned, O’Fallon said, the brewery would open in the summer.