Spotlight on Church Street Brewing Company: This custom-made, family-run brewery is celebrating 11 years in Itasca and offers up a little something for everyone
Church Street Brewing Company
1480 Industrial Dr., Unit C in Itasca
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon-Thurs.
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday
12-11 p.m. Saturday
12-7 p.m. Sunday
History in short: The genesis of Church Street can be traced back to when Lisa Gregor’s oldest son, Steven, came home from school at West Point with a book about home brewing and thought his dad, Joe, a chemical engineer, needed a hobby. That led to a home brewing kit for Christmas, and the next thing you know, the whole family was involved.
“My dad set up it up to make helles lager, because that’s all he wanted to do,” says Sean, now Church Street’s head brewer. “He traveled all over the world for his job, so this was his retirement dream. He wanted to make beer, package it and ship it. That was his plan.”
After a lease fell through on a building on Church Street in west suburban Addison, the family found itself on a bike ride through an industrial park in Itasca and noticed every building was seemingly available. And the space was ideal for a brewery. They got things rolling in 2011, launched in 2012, acquired more space to triple the size of their facility in March of 2020, and finally bought the building in 2021.
The space: The whole building incorporates 20,000 square feet of brewing space, as well as the newer “Steeple” room up front, which is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily before the action shifts back to the cavernous taproom, where a number of different kinds of lighting and two large garage doors that open during nice weather caught our eye. Another newer feature is the grassy back beer garden, complete with pergolas and picnic tables.
“This is a custom-made brewery,” Sean tells us. “My dad can step back and enjoy it now. The bar and restaurant he wants nothing to do with, but if I run into issues on the production side, I can always go back to him. There are a lot of weird bells and whistles that a lot of breweries don’t have, but he designed them and they work.”
Thanks to a family connection, Church Street proudly uses Five Roses Small Batch Select bourbon barrels, and gets their hands on them right away, meaning there’s more bourbon left to go around and the barrel-aging process gets a bit of a potent kickstart.
Interesting note: Thanks to a family connection, Church Street proudly uses Five Roses Small Batch Select bourbon barrels, and gets their hands on them right away, meaning there’s more bourbon left to go around and the barrel-aging process gets a bit of a potent kickstart.
Church Street has two membership programs, trivia on Mondays and a popular open-mic night on Thursdays that actually has served as an audition at times for their live music schedule Friday-Sunday.
What we’re eating and drinking: The food menu is legit with a great selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and pizzas. The buffalo chicken pizza had just the right amount of kick, but the BLT — with sriracha maple-glazed bacon and a lemon aleppo aioli — brought the house down. One of the better sandwiches we’ve had in a while.
As for the beer, they’ve got a full lineup to choose from. The Der Kommissar Vienna lager collaboration with Will County Brewing Company was a particular favorite, as was the Conor McRedder creamy vanilla red ale and the Li’l Luci session hazy IPA.
This year we should end up with a nice assortment of beer. We’re not changing volume, but more going after fun stuff. Choosing selection over volume. We have some good beer out there that we’re happy to be making.” — Head brewer Sean Gregor
On the horizon: Church Street’s Itascafest, brewed originally as a Marzen for Oktoberfest, is now made more than a month early to sell at the annual festival by the same name in mid-July. Don’t worry, it remains on draft through the fall.
Church Street has dabbled with beer, whiskey and wine dinners, offering up specialties like braised short ribs and duck breast with drink pairings, and based on the positive responses, they plan to make them a seasonal thing. They’ll also be tapping their first German pilsner for their 11th anniversary in late September.
From the brewery: “We’ve always been proud of our lagers, Helles and pilsners. It’s what the entire brewery staff likes to make most. This year we should end up with a nice assortment. We’re not changing volume, but more going after fun stuff. Choosing selection over volume. We have some good beer out there that we’re happy to be making.” — head brewer Sean Gregor