Popular Wauconda brewery opens taproom
The fervent fans of Wauconda's Small Town Brewery and its tasty Not Your Father's Root Beer now can sample the company's growing menu of beverages at an on-site taproom.
Officially opening Saturday, the cozy space -- in an office park at 1000 Rand Road -- features a large bar and an array of tall pub tables. Behind the bar is a row of taps from which the Small Town Brewery's many beers will pour.
And there are a whole lot of them.
Brewmaster Tim Kovac has developed more than 30 beers since founding Small Town five years ago -- too many for any one bar or store to offer. That's why he opened the taproom.
"We want people to be excited about the new beers and to come in and try the new beers," said Kovac, 48, of neighboring Island Lake.
The brewery's most well-known product is the Not Your Father's Root Beer, an alcoholic version of that classic, carbonated beverage. But Kovac also has created beers that taste like apple pie, French toast, and vanilla cream -- along with more traditional varieties.
Sixteen beers will be on tap for customers Saturday. A chalkboard to the right of the taps lists the day's offerings.
They bear names like "Lazy Dog," "Mad Dog" and "Not Your Father's Ginger Ale" -- the latter of which is one of the brewery's newest creations.
Kovac hopes restaurateurs and bar owners will come to the Small Town taproom, taste the various offerings, like what they drink and place orders.
But it's also a place for beer lovers to come, pull up a chair and hoist a glass.
The taproom opened to select guests -- village officials, friends and family -- Thursday and Friday. The public launch begins at noon Saturday.
Wauconda Trustee Tim Howe is a longtime Small Town fan, and he was among the early visitors to the taproom.
"I really liked the setup," Howe said. "They've put together a room that can adapt for future growth."
The taproom won't sell food. Kovac didn't want to steal business from Wauconda's many bars and restaurants, some of which serve his products.
"We didn't want to compete with any of our friends in town," he said.
Instead, people are welcome to bring food from home or area restaurants to the brewery to enjoy with drinks.
On Saturdays, gourmet food trucks will park outside the taproom for hungry patrons. Some chefs will use the brewery's products in their dishes, Kovac said.
The popularity of Not Your Father's Root Beer exploded this year, with stores and bars across the country selling the product. While the Wauconda brewery produces the beverage for the Chicago area, facilities in Wisconsin and Tennessee make the beer for the rest of the nation.
Howe called Small Town "a great local success story."
"We're so proud of them," he said. "Small craft breweries around the country are destinations for beer lovers, and I hope they seek out the source of (Not Your Father's Root Beer), giving folks another great reason to visit our town."
Kovac said he's surprised and excited by the brewery's success. But the hometown reaction has meant the most to him.
"I truly love the support that we've gotten from the village and the surrounding towns," he said. "People truly do love our beer."
The Small Town Brewery taproom will be open: Thursdays, 4 to 10 p.m.; Fridays, 4 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 11 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. It will be closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.