Through the Sight Glass 002:
Penrose Brewing

Penrose - Sight Glass feature

It’s a great time to be alive and drinking beer in Chicagoland. After all, the local craft beer scene is arguably at its apex. At last count, the number of breweries in Illinois alone topped 160, and plenty more are set to mash in their first commercial batches in 2016. With so much brew-related activity constantly vying for our attention, it’s good sometimes to sit back and reflect on how we got here, the ups and downs of the industry, and tasty possibilities the future may have in store for us.
While the majority of us merely daydream of the beers we’ll enjoy or event we’ll attend after a long day of staring at a computer, Chicagoland brewers are living, breathing and crafting the local beer scene as we know it 24-7-365. They’re hoisting countless 50-pound bags of grain over their shoulders at 6am. Soaking their clothes in sweat during double batch days in searing brew houses. Hitting the pavement day and night to get their beers on tap at your favorite watering holes or on the shelf at local bottle shops. Ordering ingredients. Making sure brewing schedules are maintained to keep their taplists full with enough left to pour at the overabundance of beer festivals throughout the year. Tracking merch inventory. Working with kitchens and food trucks to provide an enhanced experience for visitors. The list goes on and on. Big or small, production or taproom, city or suburb…our local breweries make it all happen – all in an effort to keep our bellies happy and our spirits high.
Who better then to serve up insights on the Chicagoland craft beer scene?
“Through the Sight Glass” is a multi-part series that lets the people behind the breweries we love share thoughts on their business and the industry.

Eric Hobbs, Founder & President
Penrose Brewing Co., Geneva, IL
20BBL System / Brewery + Taproom

Coming off their two-year anniversary this past weekend, Penrose Brewing has a lot to celebrate. Even before opening the doors to their bright, yet cozy, taproom for the first time, co-founders Eric Hobbs and Tom Korder (brewmaster) had already established their Belgian-inspired beers as consistently high quality and unique. Never ones to rest on their laurels, the gang at Penrose is constantly challenging not only the diversity of their taplist but their ability to connect with the craft beer community. Their shortlist of past and ongoing activities includes collaborating with Perennial Artisan Ales and Funk Factory Geuzeria, hosting a free haunted brewery for Halloween, working with countless local businesses for events, participating in unique beer-pairing dinners, Firkin Fridays and teaching classes on the business of craft beer. Not to mention the popular wild ale program that Korder has developed, which has sour fans lined up down the block for limited bottle releases. A new chapter in Penrose’s story will begin next month when they release their first canned beers, Session Sour – Amarillo and Taproom IPA. Be on the lookout for more big news from the team later in the year.

Which Chicagoland brewery inspires you most and why?

Half Acre – top quality product with an authentic culture expressed in all aspects of their business. Beer drinkers love to love the good folks at Half Acre.

In 10 words or less, sum up your view of the current Chicagoland craft beer scene.

Chicago is the most competitive beer market in the U.S.

Would you be in favor of retailers/bars filling growlers of your beer? Why or why not?

I am not in favor. There is too much concern for quality/proper serving and handling if growler Penrose - Sight Glasssales are made available to any/all retailers.

What’s at the top of your professional wish list over the next 3 years?

It’s a tie. Consistent can production to allow us to stretch out and service more of the market. And continue to develop/grow our wild program so we can get these beers to more folks outside of our brewery.

What makes your brewery different or stand out in Chicagoland?

Well-planned and well-executed beers, branding and story sharing. We’re a ‘beer first’ culture with an authentic expression of our passion for a better beer drinking experience. In our short two years of existence, it’s evident in the 150+ different beers we’ve brewed, the hundreds of events we’ve hosted in our taproom and at retail, the support and recognition we receive from our peers in the industry, and the amazing people working alongside of us willing to invest their time and energy to keep Penrose on the up and up.

Tell us something about your brewery that we probably don’t know.

Session sour cans are coming soon!Penrose - Sight Glass

What’s your brewery’s toughest challenge day in/day out?

Time management and delegation of responsibility.

If you could go back and change one thing when starting your brewery, what would it be?

We should have bought a canning line right away.

What aggravates or annoys you most when it comes to the current craft beer scene?

Any sense of entitlement – we all need to go hustle to build an audience and remain relevant every minute of every day.

If you could put only one other Chicagoland beer on tap at your brewery, which would it be and why?

Marz Jungle Boogie – and I would request Ed Marszewski guest bartend every Friday night.

To view other “Through the Sight Glass” posts, click on the links below:
001 – Flesk Brewing
003 – Mikerphone Brewing
004 – Metal Monkey Brewing
005 – Lagunitas Brewing
006 – 350 Brewing

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