GLEN ELLYN – Offering about 300 brands of craft beer with origins from Lombard to Belgium, the newly opened The Beer Cellar is an underground paradise for suburban craft beer enthusiasts.
Located in downtown Glen Ellyn, the shop can be found under Enchantments on Crescent Boulevard.
A self-described “beer geek,” owner Dave Hawley decided to establish The Beer Cellar with his wife, Lauren, to fill a void they recognized in the area. When its doors opened Jan. 6, The Beer Cellar became the only store dedicated solely to selling craft beer in the western suburbs.
So far, the response has been positive.
“A majority of the people are saying, ‘Wow, I’m so glad that this exists in my town,’” Hawley said. “There’s a sense of pride in craft beer.”
Carol White, executive director of the Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn, said she hopes The Beer Cellar will give more men a reason to shop downtown, although she acknowledges women enjoy craft beer, too.
“It’s great, he’s decided to do something cool and different in our downtown,” White said.
Outside of his customers and the Glen Ellyn business community, the feedback from those in the beer business also has been encouraging, Hawley said.
“I’ve never been in an industry where competitors call each other, help each other out,” he said. “We shop at each other’s stores when there’s stuff that we can’t get at our own store, get together and drink beer and talk about the markets, the trends of craft beer, and how we can get more craft beer in people’s hands.”
However, Hawley wasn’t always a craft beer connoisseur. Once a strict cocktail man, he tried a sour brown ale called La Folie from New Belgium Brewing in Colorado in 2007, and the rest is history.
“I didn’t know beer could taste that way,” said Hawley, who plans to sell La Folie as soon as a new batch is ready from the brewery. “That was the beer that got me into craft beer.”
Many craft beer stores exist in Chicago, but it’s not necessarily easy for suburbanites to make the trek to the city for their beer. One of the biggest requests these shops get is to open a location in the suburbs, Hawley said.
In addition to being a fan of downtown Glen Ellyn, Hawley decided to open his store in the village because of its central location among the many breweries that have popped up in the suburbs in towns such as Lombard, Northbrook, Westmont and Warrenville.
Across the hundreds of brands the store offers, 20 to 30 types of beer are represented, from lagers to chili stouts to lambics, he said.
A Glen Ellyn resident, Hawley grew up in Wheaton and worked in the insurance industry for the last five years. After being laid off in October, he and his wife decided it was the right time to act on the concept they had developed for a craft beer store.
While Hawley’s hours are longer than they were when he worked in insurance, he doesn’t mind the change.
“When you do what you love, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
The Beer Cellar
Where: 534B Crescent Blvd. in Glen Ellyn Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday Website: www.beercellarchicago.com Contact: 630-315-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org