There will soon be another place to drink local in Bloomington-Normal.
The owners of Lil Beaver Brewery plan to open their new south Bloomington nano-brewery and taproom later this fall. That would make it the third craft-beer opening in Bloomington-Normal in 2017, following the successful launch of Destihl Brewery’s giant beer hall and White Oak Brewery’s tap room.
“We just want a laid-back vibe,” said Lil Beaver Brewery co-owner Chad Bevers. “We want a place where you can pop in, have a couple pints, grab some beer to go. Maybe you just want a growler to head out to a cookout. Feel free to stop in and grab that and be on your way.”
Bevers is a well-known in the local craft-beer scene, first for his home-brewing and then for his leadership role in the Bruegala summer beer festival. (Bruegala 2017 is this weekend.)
Bevers, who lives in Heyworth, has been brewing for 15 years. He caught the bug after meeting one of the brewers at the now-defunct Illinois Brewing Company in downtown Bloomington. After being asked repeatedly over the years if he ever planned to make it a business, Bevers is finally opening his own place.
Bevers and his business partner, Dale Thomas, plan to open their taproom and nano-brewery at 16 Currency Drive in October. Their beer could arrive in local bars and restaurants in September. (You’ll be able to spot it because of their eye-catching, gnawed-on-by-a-beaver tap handle.)
They’re currently hard at work at remodeling a former warehouse space that’s near the original Gold’s Gym location in south Bloomington. Lil Beaver Brewery will have a 23-seat taproom and a special checkout area for to-go sales, such as growlers of beer. The brewery will also have a walk-in cooler and a wall full of barrels that’s a nod to its strong barrel-aged beer program.
The Currency Drive location was a good fit, in part, because its existing amenities lowered their buildout costs. Another benefit: There aren’t a lot of places to grab a beer in that area.
“There’s really nothing in South Bloomington,” Bevers said.
Lil Beaver Brewery will be the third stop on a possible craft-beer tour that’s growing in Bloomington-Normal, along with Destihl and White Oak. Bevers said it’s great to see this community catching up with other markets that already have established craft-beer makers.
“Locally it’s fantastic to see the community is embracing craft beer. That people are exploring, trying new things, not just the same ole beer they’ve always drank their whole life,” he said.
Many will recognize Bevers from Bruegala, an event he helped grow into one of Bloomington-Normal’s best summer traditions. There’s now an entire team that plans Bruegala each year.
The 2017 Bruegala will prominently feature beer made in Central Illinois, in addition to the usual mix of live music and 300+ beers and 50+ wines. The event is Friday and Saturday at the Corn Crib.
In the past five years, more than 20,000 people have attended Bruegala and the event has raised over $220,000 for local charities. The event is hosted by the Bloomington-Normal Jaycees.
You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Bevers:
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