Microbrewery sets sights on Oak Park and Austin market

Noon Whistle Brewing plans to begin manufacturing 'session beers' by summer

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Ever heard of a "session beer"? You will if the aspiring entrepreneurs at Noon Whistle Brewing Company are successful in opening a craft brewery at 18 Chicago Ave.

Noon Whistle co-owner Paul Kreiner said the company, which aims to open shop in Oak Park near Austin Boulevard within the next six months, will specialize in so-called session beers, which typically contain less than 5 percent alcohol content.

Kreiner explained that many craft beers are as high as 11 percent or more, making drinkers tipsy or worse after just a couple of pints.

"We just want a beer with bold flavors and lower alcohol," he said in a recent interview.

Kreiner works as a beer distributor in Oak Park and earned an associate's degree in brewing technology from the Siebel Institute, a brewing school in Chicago. With co-owners Mike Condon and Jim Cagle, three friends since grade school, they presented plans for the new venture at this month's meeting of the village Liquor Control Review Board. The microbrewery will operate primarily as a manufacturing facility with a small storefront tasting room, offering the sale of cans and "growlers." The brew crew says they anticipate 90-95 percent of their sales will come from wholesale distribution.

The company initially hopes to manufacture 2,000 barrels a year, but they project ramping up production to 15,000 barrels — 465,000 gallons — annually by 2015.

The bar area tasting room is expected to hold 35-50 people and will be open Wednesday through Sunday until 10 p.m.

"We're not serving food; we don't have a restaurant in-house," Kreiner told the board, but the group aims to invite food trucks to operate outside the facility.

Condon said the tasting room would allow customers to bring in food from local restaurants or order delivery.

Commissioner Sara Spivy questioned whether the business would "benefit the community that much because it's a tasting room."

"It seems like almost all of your business is going out the back door into other communities — Chicago, River Forest, Forest Park or wherever that would be," she said.

Cagle said the draw for Oak Park would be support for the local brewery. "It is a draw for the local community in that this is my community and this is my home and this is my beer, especially after you start growing that name brand," Cagle said.

Viktor Schrader, vice president of the Oak Park Development Corporation, said the economic development group has been working with Noon Whistle for about 10 months on the project. The proposed location is currently home to Derby Lite, a roller derby fitness club.

He said the co-owners of Noon Whistle will hold a public meeting for neighbors to find out more about the proposed business on Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m., at 18 Chicago Ave., the site of the proposed microbrewery.  

More information about Noon Whistle is available by contacting Schrader at v.schrader@opdc.net or by visiting Noon Whistle on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact:
Email: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

37 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

OP  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 8:11 PM

@ new2OP agreed. I am so tired of the entitled whinny OP people who like the world owes us something. Years ago OP had progessive intellectuals know we have entitled exceptionalism driven by want to be social climbers.. go invest the money in a business, then you can complain.

New2OP  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 5:48 PM

Less than 5% alcohol beer? come on. As much as I love brewpubs and craft beers, this sounds like a losing proposition--no doubt done to placate worry wart oak parkers. And the people who say "isn't there another vacant building they can use" have NO CLUE what it takes to site and start up a business. Seriously folks. This is why we can't have nice things. There are plenty of places for little Ashley/Trever to play.

Heyred32 from Oak Park  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 4:11 PM

As usual, money talks. It's a shame the sports teams may lose their space. I'm having trouble believing there isn't another appropriate space in Oak Park for the brewery so the current tenant can stay put. This situation could potentially make the current tenant move their business out of Oak Park and that's a shame.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 9:29 AM

Many of the comments below seem to imply that commercial real estate should function as a social services agency instead of a business. Any surprise that OP has so many empty and underutilized commercial spaces?

Westside  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 9:20 AM

Will ALL be welcome at the new beer filling station?

SB from Chicago  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 7:11 AM

If this brewery goes through at this location, I certainly hope that OP will provide the same type of development assistance to the sports teams that will be losing their space. Perhaps a new recreation space can be found, maybe in conjunction with the park districts. It's a shame to displace healthy, productive, community sports activities in favor of beer. (even though beer is awesome, but it shouldn't have to be one or the other.)

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 12:14 PM

Living within walking distance of this location, I'm excited about this development. A great use of the space. While I sympathize with those activities displaced, it's likely those things don't generate enough $$ for the building owner. Most of those private indoor spaces for specialty sports simply & training aren't profitable. This is a better long term arrangement. Maybe the VOP will transfer Derby Lite to one of it's vacant properties. The old Volvo building is perfect...

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 11:55 AM

So many empty commercial locations in Oak Park and one that is actually leased and operating is being considered? I will say, kudos to OP for looking somewhere besides Madison or Roosevelt! The north side has no place to go for a decent meal or a drink.

CM  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 11:40 AM

Please don't blame it on the business that is moving in. It is in the landlord or owners hands.

KK  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 11:33 AM

I'm all for new businesses in the area, but why does it have take over the location of an space that is used frequently and many people rely on to stay open. I'm very sure there are other locations on that very street that could use an overhaul. Derby Lite was started in Oak Park, it's the birthplace of a great program that has brought so many woman together. I know money runs the world, but having relationships and building a friendly community is also important to a lot of people.

BW  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 9:24 AM

As someone who uses the recreational facility at 18 Chicago, this really saddens me. The loss of this space for sports and fitness activities would be a real loss for the community. I hope that this business could find another suitable space in the neighborhood to contribute to Oak Park without taking away from a great community space.

GK from Oak Park  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 9:12 AM

I fully support a brewery (or two) coming into Oak Park, and the <5% ABV is great. I do not support, however, them moving into a space that is currently used to support various kids team sports training and practices, plus at least three girls and womens team sports and fitness groups - three minorities that will have a hard time finding another space that accommodates their needs. Why here? Why not find a *vacant* storefront and further benefit the community instead of taking from it?

David Haigh from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2014 12:47 AM

I support this business concept and this location. Our town needs a shop-local beer option. I think we can all agree that this entrepreneur's investment in Oak Park will support local businesses AND provide additional tax revenue. Let's not mess this up by over-complicating things? Microbreweries are here to stay because they cater to boutique beer drinkers (and they are awesome). It's the same reason that people like wineries. Oak Park should be so lucky to have one within its borders.

Cara from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2014 7:12 AM

It saddens me to hear that this new business will go into a sports recreational center that serves kids and adults, something that is greatly needed in this area. I think the business idea is great, I just think the location is wrong. We do have many vacant buildings already in Oak Park. Why does this business need to close down one that is providing a vital service to this community? What kind of message is that to kids? Sorry you can't play indoor sports anymore, but here's some beer.

Kunta Kenta from Slavery  

Posted: February 4th, 2014 3:04 PM

On the morning of September 4, 1957, fifteen-year-old Dorothy Counts set out on a harrowing path toward Harding High, where-as the first African American to attend the all-white school ?" she was greeted by a jeering swarm of boys who spat, threw trash, and yelled epithets at her as she entered the building.%uFFFD

Kevin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 1:48 PM

Last time I checked, "exports" were supposed to be good for an economy: create jobs and tax revenue here paid for by "foreign" purchases.

Just a guy from North Berwyn a/k/a S. O.P.  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 1:43 PM

Ms. Spivey represents what is wrong with the Oak Park "commission system." As the kommissars are not elected, we are at their mercy when they act like clueless buffoons. Where is the accountability?

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 12:56 PM

This guys willing to take the risk to open a legal business in our community. Let's say think you, and patronize his business.

MaryC  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 12:29 PM

Sarah Spivey - what would benefit oak Park more, another vacant store front or a business who is willing to take a risk, deal with all of the hoops Oak Park puts in front of them and put their bisiness here? Perhaps we should send another business over to Forest Park. Madison Ave. is already a huge success. Why do we make this so difficult in Oak Park?

FunBizinOP from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 11:17 AM

This sounds like a great new business. I will definitely go there. I'd rather have a craft beer place open then another frame shop.

Matt from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 10:09 AM

This is awesome news! A local brewery to fill up my growler. There are many craft beer lovers in Oak Park. Sara Spivy is obviously clueless.

OP   

Posted: February 2nd, 2014 5:03 PM

Let's hope OP development does not muck this up.

Joe from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2014 12:15 PM

@ martha Near beer has less than 1% alcohol. 5% alcohol is a little higher than most mass produced beers such as bud or miller. 5% is good for a microbrew as oppossed to some of the 8-11% microbrews that can quickly go to your head. I am curious what your "answer" is to this no man's land?

colleen maia, Bee Home and Garden from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2014 11:33 PM

Such excellent news...I think our little stretch of Chicago Avenue is primed for some exciting changes. Best of luck, Colleen Maia Bee Home and Garden 128 Chicago Avenue Oak Park

Paddy Boy  

Posted: February 1st, 2014 3:53 PM

Let's do it! I'll be the first to sing "Danny Boy,"

Ed McDevitt from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: February 1st, 2014 3:40 PM

Ms. Spivy gives further credence to the belief that Oak Park makes it REALLY difficult for new businesses. It's just obtuse to wonder if the brewery would "benefit the community that much because it's a tasting room." Even worse, what does it matter if much of the product they make goes to other communities? Isn't that the case with all restaurants in Oak Park that provide "to-go"services? Should Oak Park close down the galleries along Harrison because many of their customers are from outside Oak Park?Of course, it might make a difference that the art is going out the front door . . .

I Love Oak Park from Chicago  

Posted: February 1st, 2014 2:36 PM

They can count on my support. As long as we support them, I'm sure more will come.

Jeff from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2014 10:53 AM

What's not to like about this. A unique business added to one of our underserved gateway areas. We could use a good restaurant nearby.

Wendy from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2014 8:55 AM

This is another potential business anchor to build on established businesses on the Chicago/Austin corridor. Ace Hardware, Enterprise Car Rental are also anchors. Bee Home and Garden recently opened down the street... OakParkApartments.com has been in the area for 14 years. Entrepreneurs are willing to take risks in this area which is what sparks further development. Thanks to all those willing to invest in Oak Park. Good luck Noon Whistle.

Martha Henderson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 11:13 PM

Is near-beer really the answer to this depressed no mans land on the Austin border?

More, please sir from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 7:58 PM

This place sounds like it will be walking distance from me, so 9 percent, 5 percent, whatever. I'm in. Support your local brewer.

Really Dave ?  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 6:58 PM

I am pretty sure that Napa Valley made a fine name for themselves with tasting rooms only. Please, get with it!

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 6:52 PM

Well, I would definitely be interested in craft brews in Oak Park... but "tasting room" that doesn't serve food. Isn't that just a *bar*. I mean, I know they don't serve hard liquor, but still.

M on Clarence  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 2:30 PM

Very excited to see this coming to town! Hoping the startup goes smoothly.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 2:26 PM

Glad to see business coming to Oak Park. This place sounds a lot like Solom Oath Brewing in Naperville, and Half Acre in Chicago.

Mary from river forest  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 2:05 PM

I think it is a terrific concept and will bring economic growth to the area.

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 2:01 PM

Yes please.

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