It’s been a big year for beer in Oak Park, and hopheads can now get their own local suds by the can with the release of Chicago Common and Prohibition Pilsner by Kinslahger Brewing Company.
And that’s not all that’s percolating at Kinslahger, Oak Park’s first microbrewery, which opened up a little over a year ago at 6806 W. Roosevelt Road.
Kinslahger co-owner Keith Huizinga told Wednesday Journal that over the summer his operation will quadruple its brewing capacity to roughly 3,000 barrels a year. At 31 gallons per barrel and eight pints per gallon, that’s nearly 750,000 pints of beer being produced in Oak Park by Kinslahger alone.
Huizinga said the increase in capacity requires the decommissioning of Kinslahger’s existing brewing equipment and installation of higher-capacity tanks at the Roosevelt Road facility.
During the interim, most of Kinslahger’s beer will be brewed and canned at the Great Central Brewing Company’s facility in Chicago’s Fulton Market District.
“It’s brewed exactly to our specifications, and I can’t tell the difference between the beer they’ve made and our beer; it’s based on our recipes and it’s the same beer,” he said.
Huizinga said state liquor laws require that all the beer served at Kinslahger’s tasting room on Roosevelt must be brewed in-house, so they’ve stocked up for the summer while the new equipment is installed. The rest will be made at Central Brewing Company.
The first batch of canned Prohibition Pilsner and Chicago Common lagers hit the shelves late last week and is available at Sugar Beet Food Co-op, 812 Madison St., and Beer Shop, 1026 North Blvd.
The first batch of Kinslahger tall boys flew off the shelves at Sugar Beet, according to Lissa Dysart, marketing and promotions manager, who noted that the grocery store would be stocked up again by Tuesday, June 13.
Huizinga said he currently is working to get Kinslahger into other stores in Oak Park and surrounding communities.
He described the two new beers – Kinslahger’s most popular – in a recent interview, calling the Prohibition Pilsner an American-style pilsner “based on how beer would have been made prior to prohibition.”
“At that time, we had Bohemian and Bavarian immigrants coming to the U.S. and making the new pilsner-style beer but incorporating some unique American ingredients – different types of hops, a little bit of corn – along with the Bohemian and Bavarian ingredients that were traditionally used,” he said.
Huizinga said the result is a light, crisp beer “that is a unique taste into the past on what those brewers would have been making at that time.”
The Chicago Common is a Kinslahger original that takes its inspiration from Chicago common bricks used to rebuild the city after the Chicago Fire of 1871, Huizinga said.
“The flavor profiles tie into the earthy nature of those bricks, so we use lots of rich, red malt and balance that malt character with earthy and piney flavored hops,” he said. “We add a touch of rye in the finish to make it spicy and unique, and we increased the body and the alcohol content a little bit to communicate the concept of Chicago’s big shoulders.”
Kinslahger also is working on collaborative brew – yet to be named – with the new kid on microbrew block – Two Brothers Brewing, which opened its new restaurant in May at 100 S. Marion St. That beer will be a Two Brothers original and will soon be available for a limited time only at Two Brothers’ Oak Park location.
Huizinga said he is excited by the recent opening of Two Brothers and other beer-centric establishments in Oak Park because of the potential for them to make the village a destination for beer aficionados.
“This area will become a draw for beer tourism,” Huizinga said. “Now instead of just coming to Kinslahger, [visitors] can hit three or four places.”