Rolling Meadows brewers will go from the basement to a brick-and-mortar business next year
What started as a home brewery five years ago in a Rolling Meadows family's basement is set to become the city's first full-fledged brick-and mortar microbrewery next summer.
Steve Stankiewicz, his stepbrother Jake Morgan and their father Andy Stankiewicz -- described on their Facebook page as "two guys and a dude planning our escape from the basement" -- hope to pour their first beer in July at Leaky Keg Brewing's new manufacturing facility and tasting room.
After two years of working with city officials to find the right site, the trio got special-use approval Tuesday from the city council to open within the 3,113-square-foot space of a multi-tenant industrial building at 5100 Newport Drive, located south of Algonquin Road and east of Route 53.
While the business initially might be hard to find, the owners say they hope it becomes a destination spot for craft beer drinkers and helps fill a niche in the Northwest suburbs, which has few such microbreweries. The closest one is Mikerphone Brewing, which opened in 2017 in an Elk Grove Village industrial space.
Leaky Keg has already built up a following on social media and had a presence at community festivals for the past five years, helping to grow its name and brand.
"During that time, there was so much excitement of when would be the possibility of a local brewery opening up," said Steve Stankiewicz, a Rolling Meadows native. "There's not anything like that in Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Schaumburg or Arlington Heights. As we did more and more festivals and got more recognition out there, we thought -- we'd love to do it."
Stankiewicz, an electronics technician by day, became fascinated by microbreweries during a Pacific Crest Trail hiking trip in 2005. His girlfriend later bought him a simple home brewing kit, which led to making beer in the basement and driveway with his dad and stepbrother.
As they all became more and more interested in turning their hobby into a business, the younger Stankiewicz went to the College of DuPage to complete the business of craft beer program. Morgan graduated from the Siebel Institute of Technology -- the Chicago-based school that's been educating brewers for nearly a century and a half.
Back in Steve Stankiewicz's basement on Cardinal Drive, the family brewers started kicking around ideas about what to name the company.
"As beers kept improving over the years, my mom noticed the kegs were going dry quick," he said. "I said, 'Hey, it had to be a leaky keg.'"
Stankiewicz says much of their current brewing operation -- which they do every other week -- focuses on interpretations of traditional German lagers, along with barrel-aged stouts and a popular hazy IPA called Juicy Situation. Once they get the new brewery up and running, they plan to start with eight types of beer, which would be available to drink in the on-site tasting room or to take home in crowlers, growlers or bottles. Eventually, they hope to offer their products for sale at bars and stores.
The 30-seat tasting room and adjoining brewing space would be open for sampling and tours starting at 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. They also plan to offer a rotating food truck on weekends.