Black Lung Brewing hopes to open tap room in Round Lake Beach in January
After brewing beer in his garage and giving it away to friends and family for years, Josh Grubbs came to a point where he needed to make a big decision: take the next step and start a brewery or be satisfied with being a home brewer.
"If I don't do it now, when am I going to do it?" Grubbs, 39, of Round Lake Beach remembers asking himself. "And when you have friends to help, and a lot of people are enjoying what you're making and celebrating what you're doing, it helps you keep going."
So last year, the husband and father of four started Black Lung Brewing Company with his wife Sarah. And now, he plans to open his company's first tap room in a storefront that used to be a pawnshop at 2217 N. Route 83 in Round Lake Beach. It would also be the first tap room in the village, he said.
Currently, Josh runs the brewery in rented space at ZumBier in Waukegan. He is the brewer, making and selling beer in cans at area stores since August 2019.
Grubbs said he hasn't pinned down the opening date for the tap room. Much is yet to be done: the project requires some municipal approval, contractors will need to cut into the concrete to make industrial drains on the brewing floor and the furniture for the tap room needs to be brought in.
And, there is the global pandemic, which threatens to slow any part of the process.
"I'm saying January for now, and hoping to improve on that estimate later," he said. "I was planning the space out before COVID hit and now I have to address what people's concerns might be about the space and about cleanliness."
Grubbs said his original plan had tables too close together to comply with current safety precautions. He said he might install plexiglass dividers along the bar to separate patrons.
The credit for the company's descriptive name goes to Sarah Grubbs, who heard the Joe Bonamossa song "Black Lung Heartache" about the rough life of a coal miner and thought of her husband's grandfather, Billy Grubbs, who briefly was a coal miner before nearly dying in a cave-in.
"The reason I'm here is because he almost died in a mine," Josh Grubbs said, adding his grandfather soon left the mines and went to the Chicago suburbs to work in factories and then build houses. "The name sounds like a negative thing but it's not. It's a way to honor him."