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'All about the beer:' Brewery to open in downtown Wheaton

Downtown Wheaton Association President Jim Mathieson (second from left), proposes a toast at a Feb. 5 event hosted by the owners of Dry City Brew Works, which hopes to open this summer in Wheaton.
Downtown Wheaton Association President Jim Mathieson (second from left), proposes a toast at a Feb. 5 event hosted by the owners of Dry City Brew Works, which hopes to open this summer in Wheaton.

WHEATON – Just a stone's throw from the area known as Whiskey Creek during Prohibition, downtown Wheaton will soon welcome its first brewery and tasting room.

Dry City Brew Works hopes to open this summer at 120B N. Main St., producing up to 40 barrels of beer at a time and offering a five-beer rotating tap for tastings.

The brewery will be operated by Wheaton residents Jessica and Ben Sampson, and Jessica's parents, Lori and Dave Carr of Glen Ellyn.

A pharmacist by trade, Ben became interested in the combination of science and art brewing requires.

"I really wanted to know how it worked, rather than follow a recipe," he said. "I read some books about every style and tried to make it my own."

Ben and Jessica became beer aficionados, traveling the country to visit small breweries, touring more than 30 during their honeymoon last year and falling in love with the tight-knit brewing community.

"My experience in going to beerfests and breweries and all these places was just realizing what ... camaraderie there is in this industry," Jessica said. "These people love what they do, they have a lot of fun when they go to work, it's a great network of people. It's all about the beer."

The idea of opening a brewpub stemmed from the notion that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, Jessica said.

Already the owners of Carr Mobile Technologies in Glen Ellyn, Lori said she and her husband were looking for something new.

Their concept for a catering operation evolved to incorporate Ben and Jessica's brewery, and they decided to narrow their focus, at least to start, Dave said.

"We wrestled amongst ourselves – what are we really? Are we a brewery? Are we going to be a restaurant that, by the way, we do beer? What's our identity?" he said. "And we all feel very good about the beer, so let's get the beer thing off the ground and stay focused on that."

Ben said he has already created nearly 30 beer recipes, many with Wheaton-themed names, such as Wheat(on) Ale, Courthouse Smoked Porter and the Wheaton Grand Theater-inspired MiracAle, after the "Miracle on Hale Street" fundraising campaign.

That connection to the city is important, Dry City's founders said.

"I said if I was going to open up a brewery, when we were talking about this crazy idea, I would want to open it in Wheaton," Ben said. "I don't think I would have had any interest in doing it anywhere else."

Dry City worked with officials to determine zoning and restrictions for its Main Street location, since Wheaton had never encountered a brewery before, Ben said. However, his experience with the city was positive throughout, he said, and Dry City was told it would fit in well with the recently-adopted Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan.

Much like fellow downtown storefront Tasting deVine, the brewery is allowed a tasting room with a three-drink limit. It will also sell growlers and bombers of its various beers for carry out, including seasonal and specialty beers, such as Dry City's Thanksgiving offering, with thyme, sage and cranberries.

Jessica said having a place locals can come and meet the founders face-to-face is important.

"We're more interested in the social aspect," Ben said. "And helping the community and providing a place where we can come together, rather than being somebody that nobody ever sees and sells bottles to Binny's."


Wheaton as a 'Dry City"

• After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Wheaton voted 1,598 to 1,420 to remain a “dry town," according to DuPage County Historical Museum records. The city kept the practice in place until a 1987 referendum.
• The surrounding communities of Itasca, West Chicago, Glen Ellyn and Winfield Township were referred to as “Whiskey Creek.”


Dry City Brew Works fast facts

• Located at 120B N. Main St.
• Hopes to be fully licensed by summer
• Interior will have industrial theme
• Will have patio access in summer
• Tasting room will have five rotating beers on tap
• Will sell growlers and bombers

For more information, visit


Select Dry City Brew Works beers

• Stout-Man
• Wheat(on)
• MiracAle
• Cloak & Dagger Double IPA
• I Save the King Scottish Ale
• Dulcinea Blonde Ale
• Proverbial IPA
• Red Otter ESB
• Deus Ex Machina IPA

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