New Wheaton brewery a place for people to gather
Exposed brick walls, metal accents, a wooden ceiling and plans for local musicians to regularly perform give Dry City Brew Works the feel of an urban coffeehouse.
In reality, the new business in downtown Wheaton is a tiny brewery where people can work on their laptops, catch up with a friend or meet new people while enjoying a beer.
The brewery -- owned by Wheaton native Ben Sampson, his wife Jessica and her parents, Dave and Lori Carr -- opened earlier this month at 120B N. Main St.
"I think we're all just excited to finally be in the community and sharing our love for good beer," Jessica said. "It's our baby. We're all really proud of it."
The name, of course, is a reference to Wheaton's history of being a dry city until the mid-1980s.
"A lot of people, especially from the Wheaton area, are telling us, 'Wow, finally, it's so good to have something like this in Wheaton.' They love the name and the play on Wheaton and the reaction to the actual product has been good," Jessica said.
Friends, family and strangers helped the brewery raise $15,000 through a Kickstarter.com campaign to help with some of the startup costs. The owners are now in the process now of rewarding the backers with Dry City-stamped T-shirts, glasses and other items.
A public ribbon-cutting for the brewery, featuring live music and possibly some food trucks, will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29.
"It's just a place for people to gather and have a couple drinks and have a good time," Ben said. "We like the social aspect."
Shiny new pots, burners and serving tanks made in Michigan take up about half of the cozy brewery, which has seating for about 10. An outdoor patio will provide additional space for customers in the warmer months.
The Sampsons plan to have about four or five rotating beers on tap at a time. This winter, Ben hopes to brew an English style ale, a porter, a vanilla bourbon oak and a cinnamon holiday spice.
Customers are limited to three 16 ounce servings. That could include, for example, a "flight" of four 4 ounce samples, plus two pints of beer.
No food is served on site, but customers are welcome to bring in their own meals. Ben and Jessica said they also don't want to install a TV because they don't want it to distract from being a place to "have a conversation."
Eventually, Dry City products may be found in local restaurants and even stores. But for now, the owners are working on getting growlers and 22-ounce bombers filled with their beer that customers can purchase at the brewery.
Ben and Jessica said they also want to partner with their neighbors as much as possible. For example, they have already used coffee from the local coffee shop River City Roasters in a coffee milk stout, and they are thinking about hosting "Vinyl Fridays," when they could play records from the newly opened Mile Long Records.
Anyone visiting Dry City should enter from a parking lot behind the building, which is accessible from Wesley Street. The brewery doesn't have signage on Main Street.
The brewery is open 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 3 to 9 p.m. Friday; and noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. Due to the popularity at night, the Sampsons are considering changing the hours to keep the brewery open later.