It’s been a good couple of years for beer in Oak Park, with the opening of several microbreweries and the expansion of the village’s first beer operation Kinslahger Brewing Company at 6806 Roosevelt Rd.
Oak Parkers also might have noticed in the last few years the introduction of beers by Around the Bend Beer Company at local watering holes like Kinderhook Tap and Bricks Wood Fired Pizza.
While Around the Bend is made in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago, its owner, Dan Schedler, is an Oak Parker.
We recently toured both Kinslahger and Around the Bend to learn that both operations are expanding.
Steve Loranz, co-owner of Kinslahger, said his operation quadrupled its brewing capacity last year.
“We’ve upgraded and basically quadrupled our size, so now our brew house is a two-kettle brew house,” he said during a recent tour. “It’s 15 barrels instead of four, and we’ve got a much larger cellar, so it’s quite a bit packed in the back nowadays.
“We kind of have to be careful when we’re walking around each other not to step on each other’s toes.”
The beer is widely available in the Chicago now and locally available at places like Sugar Beet Food Co-op, Pete’s Fresh Market, Avenue Ale House, Scratch on Lake and Obsessed Kitchen and Bar.
The brewing facility at 6806 Roosevelt Road has a 600-square-foot tasting room, where beer lovers can try a flight or just dive in with one of their flagship beers, Chicago Common and Prohibition Pilsner.
The company noted in a press release last year that their lagers – it’s the company’s specialty – “undergo a cool fermentation followed by a cold conditioning period prior to packaging – resulting in a clean, rounded finish.”
Around the Bend tap room coming
The Chicago-based company is a little over three years old but already planning to open a tap room in spring of 2019 near Ashland Avenue and Hubbard Street in West Town neighborhood of Chicago, according to owner and founder Dan Schedler.
The company is now brewing and canning their beers on the South Side of Chicago. Schedler explained that the company rents its space under an agreement with another beer company. The method is known as contract brewing or partner brewing, Schedler said.
“It’s a way in the craft beer community has helped get a lot of breweries get started,” he said, noting that Half Acre and 3 Floyds also started out as contract brewers. “There’s a lot of breweries that started that way. Sam Adams started that way and still brews the preponderance of their beer on contract.”
“So we’re in good company in terms of contract brewers.”
Schedler said Around the Bend gets its name from the company’s philosophy of “trying to explore what’s possible with beer.”
“We’re trying to push boundaries and do new things and different things. We feel like if you keep pushing boundaries and keep exploring, you never know what is around the bend,” he said.
Their Villainous IPA, for example, uses four different yeast strains to add complexity to the beer.
“It gives it a nice juicy start, but it still finishes off dry like a classic West Coast beer would, and then we dry hop the heck out of it with Centennial and Mosaic hops,” he said. “We don’t need to just brew another pale ale. There’s a million of them out there.”