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updated: 5/3/2016 4:57 AM

Naperville man loves beer so much, he started his own company

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  • Video: Brewer Brian Buckman

  • Naperville native Brian Buckman, 41, takes a look to see how the next creation at Illuminated Brew Works is coming along. Illuminated Brew Works beers are available at more than 20 bars in the Chicago area as well as stores.

      Naperville native Brian Buckman, 41, takes a look to see how the next creation at Illuminated Brew Works is coming along. Illuminated Brew Works beers are available at more than 20 bars in the Chicago area as well as stores.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

Brian Buckman of Naperville has loved beer ever since his first sip. His lifelong love of beer is so strong that it led him to start his own brewing company.

Buckman, who describes himself as a creative thinker and a problem solver, has tackled projects such as building and driving a school bus powered by veggie oil across the county. He has also worked as a project manager at SpotMe, a mobile event technology company.

"I have always loved a good challenge," Buckman said. "Taking my love for beer and making a business out of it was a natural progression for me."

The fact that beer brings people together is the foundation of Buckman's company, Illuminated Brew Works.

In 2008 Buckman and his good friend Matt Shirley started experimenting, and by 2009 they knew they had a good thing and wanted to give brewing as a profession a run for the money.

"It's a dynamic substance, magic even," Buckman said, "that microorganisms can make this substance and it's tasty."

Soon, Jason Monk was added to the roster. A welder by trade, Monk was able to fabricate many of the apparatuses needed to brew and be a successful do-it-yourself business.

With no outside backers, the three partners worked on all the elements needed to put the business together. On Oct. 14, 2014, Illuminated Brew Works was born.

Not wanting to play follow the leader and brew yet another India pale ale, Illuminated Brew Works brews urban farmhouse styles. Long ago, urban farmhouse ales were brewed in the French and Flemish regions of Belgium. These beers are a light, refreshing, low-alcohol drink that hardworking farmhands loved. Names of some of Illuminated Brew Works' brews include Orange Sunshine, Juggalo Cadillac, and 50% Chance of Death.

"What I love about almost as much as drinking beer is eating food," Buckman said. "So, I want to make beer that will be properly enjoyed with food. That's been a big driver for us."

The partners' efforts have paid off. Illuminated Brew Works beer can be found on tap at Kuma's Corner in Schaumburg and in more than 10 Chicago bars. Buckman and Monk have a large network of friends in the industry, and they also go from bar to bar and store to store promoting their product. Bottled beer can be found at Standard Market and Binny's Beverage Depot. Illuminated Brew Works brews can also be found at area beer tasting festivals.

Buckman and his crew hope to open a city brewpub in the near future, with an eye on the West Loop. In the meantime, you can find Illuminated Brew Works at ibw-chicago.com.

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