Group of friends proposing new microbrewery in St. Charles

Updated 5/22/2018 4:39 PM
  • Head brewer Eric Bramwell stands outside the site of his new St. Charles brewery, Riverlands Brewing Co., at 1860 Dean St.

    Head brewer Eric Bramwell stands outside the site of his new St. Charles brewery, Riverlands Brewing Co., at 1860 Dean St. Courtesy of Eric Bramwell

Years after dreaming up the idea at a Fourth of July barbecue, a group of longtime friends are teaming up to open a microbrewery in St. Charles.

Riverlands Brewing Co. could begin operating by the end of the year if its five partners obtain the appropriate permits and licensing, head brewer Eric Bramwell said. The 5,000-square-foot space at 1860 Dean St. is expected to be remodeled into a 75-person taproom and a brewing operation, separated only by a half wall to allow customers to watch the process.

"It gives them a front-row seat to where the beer they're actually drinking is being made," Bramwell said.

It was more than the bustling streets and unique "vibe" of the town that led brewery owners to the St. Charles facility just east of Randall Road, Bramwell said. Two of the business partners, brothers Dave and Steve Marck, grew up in the city. Their father and the brewery's principal investor, Andy Marck, still resides there and always has been interested in starting his own business.

"With how much craft beer is growing right now, (Riverlands) seemed like such a perfect fit for the community," Bramwell said. "It's a great place to be."

Bramwell, a Naperville native who now lives in Pingree Grove, met the Marck brothers and the fifth Riverlands Brewing partner, Jason Arges, through mutual friends during college. Each owner has his own specific role in the company.

As head brewer, Bramwell said he's been trying out recipes at home for years and has perfected about 30 recipes. Riverlands Brewing likely will have a rotation of its regular beers such as New England IPAs, sour beers, imperial stouts and more traditional pilsners. "But there's always going to be something new," he said.

Samples of the beer will be served June 9 in the home-brew tent at the Tri-City Craft Brew Festival in downtown St. Charles, he added.

Riverlands will focus on selling beer in the rustic-themed taproom when it first opens, but owners eventually hope to distribute the product as well, Bramwell said. The brewery also will allow patrons to bring in their own food.

The establishment has to obtain federal, state and local licenses to brew and sell beer. Riverlands owners have been in contact with St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan, who says the city recently updated its liquor code to accommodate the several breweries that have expressed interest in the area.

A liquor license classified for a brewery was issued last year to D and G Brewing Co., which is expected to open at 303 N. Fourth St. in early June, according to its Facebook page. The city also recently granted a special sitewide liquor license to 93 Octane, a nanobrewery that will operate in conjunction with a restaurant and liquor store under the same roof.

"They're not late-night taverns. They have a sophisticated following -- people who really go after the taste and the experience," Keegan said. "There is a marketplace for it, and I think we have a lot of amenities in town to offer."

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