CHANNAHON – This spring, Channahon residents, who once spent nights together perfecting their home brew beer and wine, will share their beer knowledge, as well as that of a brew school graduate, at River Hawk Brewing.
The soon-to-open craft beer brewery was put together by friends Tom Sperling, Tim Engler and Dustin Fryman, all of Channahon, who have brewed together for the past 10 years. The trio recently hired Ian Pershey of Channahon, who graduated from Brewlab, located in the United Kingdom.
During a brainstorm session on a name, Fryman threw out River Hawk because of the natural landscape and wildlife found around the Channahon area and it stuck.
The owners wanted to create something local in their community and couldn’t be happier with the location at 24735 W. Eames St. in Channahon.
“We looked for six months and we knew we wanted a Minooka or Channahon location. After searching, this property became available on Route 6, which was easy to get to, ideal building and we have parking in the front and back,” Fryman said.
The owners hope to open in the next month or two.
The brewery takes up four business fronts and will feature European tavern-style seating with long wooden community tables, where customers can chat with friends and get to know their neighbors while they sip a blueberry wine or porter beer. A tasting bar will accommodate large groups as they sample any of the 10 to 16 brews and four wines with the brew tanks as a backdrop.
“Our tasting room is larger than most and has a beautiful street view. We hope to build a sense of community and with all of us working here people can inquire about our beers and our story,” Fryman said.
Engler said the brewery was set up with 12 fermenters, which allows for a wide range of beers from a basic lager to a stout.
“If there is a style, we will probably have it,” Engler said.
River Hawk Brewing will remain a place for drinks, but will encourage patrons to have food delivered, or bring food into the brewery. They hope to work with a food truck on weekends to allow variety.
Pershey said this was his first job setting up a new brewery, which gives him the freedom to brew what he and the owners want to brew. His favorite beer to brew is India pale ale, which is known for its hoppy notes, but he also has knowledge of cask ales because of the location of his schooling and he has experimented with sour beers, which are on trend.
Sperling said once the brewing begins and customers can give feedback on their favorites, the brewery will have its staple beers, but he wants to offer a variety to the customer to keep things fresh.
Sperling, who has made his own wine at home, will make all the wines on site.
“I wanted to also bring people in who don’t like to drink beer, we want to please everybody," he said.
The owners spared no expense when it came to equipment and quality of water and ingredients. A separate room from the brewery houses the reverse osmosis water system, which leaves the water pure so the brewers can begin with a clean slate and add the necessary ingredients to make a clean-tasting beer. They have also built a lab in order to test what goes into the beer to ensure quality.
Pershey created his own yeast farm, which he will use when brewing begins, instead of dry packaged yeast.
“We wanted to have a high tech system for the new brewery. We want to have all of the right stuff, for example, the water and yeast, consistent, so we can repeat our batches,” Sperling said.
Until the state approves their license, the owners head to the brewery site after their day jobs to build their business. The crew took up all of the floors and walls and built them back to their specifications. They can be seen cleaning tanks, building tables and putting on the final touches so when they have the license in hand, they are ready to brew.
“We want to be a destination to bring attention to Channahon," Fryman said. "The idea has always been to have a place to sit down, drink a couple beers, talk, eat and get to know people.”