Finch's Beer is hopping its way to abandoned Long Grove greenhouse
Perennials, annuals and hanging plants once filled the greenhouses at 2727 Route 53 in Long Grove, but now those structures are being primed to house a new business.
Finch's Beer Company, based out of Chicago since 2011, already has moved their warehouse to one of the old Geimer Greenhouse structures, and hopes to get brewing operations underway in one of the old greenhouses by the end of next year or beginning of 2017.
Founder Ben Finch, a Long Grove resident, also expects a retail to-go portion to open by Christmas, and has later plans for a tap room and beer garden.
The repurposing of old buildings and structures, says Village President Angie Underwood, is a "very Long Grovian" thing.
The Geimer Greenhouse business started in Arlington Heights in 1928. The third generation of the family moved it to 15 acres in Long Grove in 2002, and the nursery closed in 2010.
The family-owned business left behind several sturdy structures and painted wooden signs, which Finch's has incorporated into their plans.
With the warehouse already fully stocked, Ben Finch expects the retail section to open "very soon."
Brewing operations are expected to come to Long Grove in late 2016 or early 2017.
"Our story's a little different from others because we grew our base in Chicago with just our Elston (Avenue) footprint and we went out wider with distribution," Finch said. "I've had a passion for packaging, branding and beer for some time."
Finch and his employees started moving kegs and cans into the warehouse about two weeks ago. The kegs are cleaned and filled at the Elston brewery and delivered via truck to the Long Grove warehouse.
Finch hopes to grow hops on some of the old nursery's trellises, and he's also started working on reclaiming the painted wooden signs left over from the nursery. One of the signs reading 'irrigation' is aptly placed in the front of the beer company's retail section, where customers will soon be able to stop by and pick up a four-pack.
"We're trying to reuse as much as we can," Finch said.
The 15-acre property Finch is leasing also comes with active bee hives and three wells. The brewer's plan calls for bringing Lake Michigan water to the site, but Finch's might also make use of the well water.
"Our plan is to have the water on the site tested and look into potentially brewing with it if we can do a proper reverse osmosis system," he said.
And since the facility isn't located in the village's historic downtown area, Finch wants to run a trolley year-round from there to the brewery.
Finch's originally hoped to open a brewery site on the Chicago River.
"We negotiated that for like 10 months and it just ended up being too expensive," he said. "At the same time we started looking at suburban sites because we knew there was a lot of opportunity out here to find things like this."
After initially walking the property, Finch says he knew the location was the right fit.
"Being a resident and opening a business in the village is very pro-Long Grove," Underwood said. "It's great when residents invest in the community."
After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Finch owned a branding and marketing company in Chicago, but wanted to use his creativity in a new way.
"This was all about me putting my name on something," he said. "I had worked for other people's brands for years and wanted to do my own."
Finch's unfiltered beer finds its identity in the four-pack cans it's sold in. The company works with artists to come up with graphics for their beers with names like Fascist Pig, Hardcore Chimera and Secret Stache.
The art is all directed by Finch, and driven by artists all over the country. Brewers put together the recipes and give the direction behind beers, which are then sent to the artists who come up with a graphic.
"What really attracted me to this business is that it's like art and science. It's art on the outside of the can and science inside," Finch said. "And the thing about it is a lot of the people in the Chicago brewing community are all creative."
Finch's has about 30 employees total, and five right now in Long Grove.
And with 15 acres of land and an old nursery, is Finch overwhelmed?
"We haven't bitten off more than we can chew," he said.