Brewery spotlight: The Old Bakery Beer Company in the historic town of Alton is the creation of a talented husband-and-wife duo focused on community, the environment and great beer
Old Bakery Beer Company
400 Landmarks Blvd, Alton, IL 62002
Sunday-Tuesday: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Wednesday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
History in short: The Old Bakery Beer Company is the creation of the husband-and-wife duo of Lauren Pattan and James Rogalsky. Pattan’s mom gave her future son-in-law a home-brewing kit when he was, shall we say, perhaps a year or two younger than he probably should’ve been. He would eventually upgrade to better equipment as his skills improved, and in their 20s, the couple found themselves working for Urban Chestnut Brewing in St. Louis — James on the brewing side and Lauren as the taproom manager.
But the pull of Alton, the town across the river in Illinois where they both grew up and where their families remained, proved too strong, and before long, they started looking at potential space in their hometown and instantly fell in love with a century-old building. At the tender age of 25, and just a year after renovations began, Lauren and James opened Old Bakery Beer Company in 2015.
The building that houses the brewery began as a bakery in the late 1800s, and it still has many elements of its past. “We didn’t have to fake it,” Lauren Pattan says. “The character was built in.”
The space: The building that houses the brewery began as a bakery in the late 1800s. Following a devastating fire in 1929 and a series of renovations, additions and changes in ownership, the building remained a bakery until the early 1980s. It then sat empty for better than 20 years before Lauren and James’ vision took hold.
The building still has many elements of its past, like plenty of white glazed brick and tables and a bar made of reclaimed wood. “We didn’t have to fake it,” Lauren says. “The character was built in.”
The venue is set up more like a restaurant than a taproom, since an estimated 90 percent of their guests dine with them, and a patio out front is a popular destination during warm weather. A large separate event space is ideal for hosting various community events like an Earth Day festival, community lecture series, regular local vendor markets, parties and weddings.
Interesting note: One of the main goals for ownership has always been to be as environmentally conscious as possible. So much so, that the Old Bakery Beer Company is certified organic, exclusively using only North American hops and routinely seeking out the most sustainable ingredients possible, including local produce and meat.
The Old Bakery Beer Company is certified organic, exclusively using only North American hops and routinely seeking out the most sustainable ingredients possible.
What we’re eating and drinking: The OBBC carries an impressive 20 beers on draft and one more on a beer engine, better known as a traditional British draught system where beers are hand pulled through a sparkler for a creamy body and served at 50 degrees. A refreshing citrus wheat is one of their flagship beers, and a golden ale made with blueberries and organic Illinois oats is popular as well. Other enticing options on draft include the juicy Up River IPA and Burnt Oak smoked brown ale that’s aged in Stumpy’s Spirits bourbon barrels.
Not to be overlooked are their sparkling herbal tea options in cans and the seasonal cocktail-based slushies.
On the food front, there is a lot of creativity happening in Alton (including vegan options), starting with sharable snacks like the jerk cauliflower bites served with a mango pineapple sauce, award-winning chili, signature sandwiches (try the smoked turkey with bacon and pastrami on sourdough), loaded burgers and fresh seasonal items.
On the horizon: A popular seasonal brew for them is a guava IPA in the summer, and if you’re in the area, the Old Bakery Beer Company throws a memorable “Oktoberfest in July” party every year.
From the brewery: “I think Alton has a lot to offer as it’s reinventing itself as a historical tourist destination. It’s a perfect couple-day trip to explore and learn about the history of Illinois, take a jaunt to Route 66, enjoy a beautiful drive along the scenic River Road, and stop in to see us.” — Owner Lauren Pattan