LYONS – Inside an old auto repair garage on a lonely, industrial stretch of 47th Street in Lyons work is steadily underway at the home of BuckleDown Brewing.
The smell of dust mixes with fresh cut wood as workers measure pipe and play with the electrical wiring that runs between a series of fermentation tanks. At the moment, the only indication that BuckleDown will soon be producing a rather large amount of beer is the brewery’s shipping and receiving room. Inside, just waiting to be torn open, are bags of grain and hops. The room smells a bit like beer cereal.
BuckleDown, 8700 W. 47th St., is the new business venture and passion project of Sean Mahoney of La Grange and Ike Orcutt of Geneva. When they open to the public – tentatively set for Dec. 6 – they’ll offer four-styles of their unique beers available for tasting throughout the Chicago area and at their tap house/brewery in Lyons.
“We really wanted it to be like a corner bar, where the guy who owns it is the one serving you,” Mahoney said of the tap house.
Basically, you can sip your suds at the bar or a table in the front of the brewery in full view of the process going on behind the bar.
The two got their start, like many microbrewers, by first playing around at home. Orcutt, who will serve as head brewer, was inspired by his trips to breweries like Two Brothers in Warrenville and decided to try his hand at making his own.
“The first beer I made was dreadful,” Orcutt laughed as he recalled his first foray into the beer scene. “But it made me want to do better. I’m always trying to do something new and better.”
Mahoney also got interested in homebrewing when he began making beer at his design studio in Chicago. About a year ago, the two crossed paths through mutual friends and began swapping suds.
“I thought, ‘these are great,’” Mahoney said of Orcutt’s products. “This is definitely something I could get behind.”
Both men said they always been “do-ers” and the idea of opening their own brewery came as naturally as their fast friendship.
“It was just fun as hell,” Mahoney said. “Hey, if you’re not having fun making beer, then you must be a jerk.”
The BuckleDown brand will focus on hoppy, Belgian and American-style IPAs. Their signature brew, Fiddlesticks, is a combination of their love of citrusy, Belgian-style beer and full-flavor IPAs.
But their plans don’t stop at a handful of styles. As they begin producing, they plan to begin barrel-aging certain beers, creating seasonal specialties and eventually canning their product for retail sale, too.
“The Midwest has this really great, very innovative beer scene, and we’re just really excited to become a part of that,” Mahoney said.
They’ve already had a few chances; designing beers with the help of breweries like Haymarket in Chicago and attending regional craft beer festivals. They recently showed off their product at the MAX Exposition Center in McCook at the annual Brew Moon Festival.
With his background in design, Mahoney will be designing the products marketing materials, labels and eventually cans as well. At this point, each style of beer has a unique “character” associated with it, which will make an appearance on the product.
“I’m kind of savoring the ideas right now,” Mahoney said. “With beer design, it’s fun, you can basically do anything you want.”
To start, each beer available at the tap house will cost $6, with carry out growler (jug of beer) options as well. They expect the tap room to be open Thursdays through Sundays, with the hours to be announced later. You can bring your own food and Orcutt said he hopes to one day bring food trucks to the parking lot on the weekends.
“We just want it to be a really fun place where you can come for good conversation with friends,” Orcutt said. “It’s basically everything we would be looking for in [a tap house].”
Eventually, they hope to offer public tours as well, maybe encouraging the next budding brewer to follow their path.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of help from people in the industry,” Mahoney said. “Of course, we’d want to do the same thing for someone else.”