Not sure what brew to try at Lake Bluff Brewing Company? Find out what ale’s you with this short quiz.
1. You’re late for work, and a large wild bird is gobblin’ up valuable driving space on 176. How do you react?
A: Run it over. Looks like Thanksgiving dinner’s taken care of!
B: I can wait. How cool and random! Ooh, I wonder what the crossing guard is reading?
2. What’s your favorite part of the Lake Bluff Fourth of July parade?
A: Our community’s patriotism really shines.
B: The parade floats. Always some community pride and humor!
C: Just give me the food. All of the food.
3. What’s most important to you?
A: Tradition, kicking ass.
B: Living in the present. I say hello to everyone I pass on Scranton.
C: Family, friends, career – all of the usual stuff!
Mostly A’s: Come on, get Hoppy! You’ve got a strong character, and with that strength comes a bit of danger. Be careful that you don’t come off “more malty and stronger than intended,” like your Lake Bluff Brewing Company match. Skull and Bones Double Pale Ale packs alcohol content and strong taste.
Mostly B’s: You must be a Lake Bluffer with that easy goin’ attitude. Unfazed by wild turkeys in the intersection, you breeze on by while walking your pampered North Shore dog. You’ll probably even get the reference to your brew buddy, Lake Bluff Brewing Company’s Honey Badger, “an easy drinking golden ale flavored with caramel, Munich and Vienna Malts, and locally farmed honey.”
Mostly C’s: You’re our wild card with a little bit of everything. You probably keep busy, trying out all that Lake Bluff has to offer, and you never miss a Lake Bluff Fourth of July parade. You won’t mind trying None More Black Black Squirrel Bourbon Stout, with diverse ingredients such as “oak, caramel, vanilla, char … even hints of pineapple and banana.”
Lake Bluff Brewing Company owners Rodd Specketer and Dave Burns couldn’t choose just one of their craft beers to characterize Lake Bluff.
“I consider Lake Bluff to be complex but easy-going,” said Dave. “There’s a certain amount of demographic diversity. Maybe a Bourbon Stout, easy to drink and laid-back.”
Lake Bluff Brewing Company is a spin-off of the Lake Bluff Brewing Club, also started by Rodd and Dave. They began home-brewing and meeting at members’ houses (which they still do) to try new styles of beer. Although both partners have big league corporate jobs, they decided to follow their interest, love for the community and demand for their home-brews by opening Lake Bluff Brewing Company in 2011.
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“We have fun drinking and making beer but we recognized a void in the community,” Dave said. “We wanted to create a good, cozy place to hang out.”
What the partners didn’t expect was the huge reception from the community.
“We didn’t expect the magnitude of success from Day 1,” said Dave. “When we opened, we had scaled things at a very low level. We ended up with 75 people here for 5 hours on a Wednesday. We almost ran out of beer, and had to more than double our capacity. That was a huge surprise and a huge problem, but it’s definitely the kind of problem you want to have.”
One of only two small breweries resident to Lake County, brews from LBBC can be found at Inovasi, Market House, Bigheads in Waukegan, The Vine in Grayslake and even Gabe’s in Highland Park.
Besides brewing locally, Lake Bluff Brewing Company supports the community by serving food from surrounding restaurants, featuring local bands and local artists, and even sponsoring block parties and music festivals. Partnered with Re-Invent Gallery, local artists come in on a Thursday night every few weeks to show new works which hang in the brewery until the next event.
The brewery supplies its grain by-product to local pig farmers who use it as compost, and reuses the tap water they use as a coolant during the brewing process to save energy. They also recycle and use locally sourced food rather than corporate alternatives.
“We try to buy as much locally as we can,” said Rodd.
“Co-promotions are a win-win in two ways: the food is really fresh and made today, and we’re putting money back into the community,” Dave said.
They also put money back into the community by donating heavily to local organizations including Activator Cycles, Lake Bluff School District 65, Lake Bluff Youth Baseball and the Vliet Center of Lake Bluff, to only name a few.
“Ninety percent of our business comes from locals, so we’re giving back to them,” said Rodd. “When we named this place, we had some non-town related names but we wanted to let people know that we’re here just for them – that’s why we named it Lake Bluff Brewing Company.”
“One of the most gratifying things is when customers thank us. That’s backwards – we’re supposed to thank them for supporting us,” said Dave.
“Our staff is laid back and we try to keep it casual,” said Dave. “Our involvement with music usually leads to a good time.” Stop into the bar on a Vinyl Tuesday with your favorite records, and if he likes what you brought, Pato Thornycroft, bartender, will give you a drink on the house.
No pressure if you’re not sure which brew you’d like to try. “We try to have something for everyone,” said Rodd. “We like to find out what the customer’s tastes are and steer them in the right direction.” As a fun holiday outing, you can even stop by the brewery and have a tour for $10. See details and buy tickets here.
After having a very successful block party this September, Dave and Rodd hope to make it a monthly event and plan to partner with Wisma to serve hot chocolate at their Winter block party.
“The block party was my favorite thing to do so far,” Rodd said. “Everyone in Lake Bluff seems to get along. There were neighbors hanging out and drinking beer, and kids running all around. The village has been very supportive of us, and we always have a great time. I always thought Lake Bluff was a warm community, and [LBBC] has reaffirmed that.”
You can check out the Lake Bluff Brewing Company at 16 E Scranton Ave. in Lake Bluff.
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