Spotlight on Springfield Beer Company: Two distinctly different locations in central Illinois, a diverse lineup of beers and a new production facility in the works — not a bad four years for Ryan Kunken & staff
Springfield Beer Company
3788 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711
73 E. Central Park Plaza, Suite 2
Jacksonville, IL 62650
Sunday: 12-8 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 5-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 12 p.m.-12 a.m.
History in short: Owner Ryan Kunken got his start at the Illinois State Fair, where he noticed a brochure for a two-week “Introduction to Brewing” class offered by a local community college.
Kunken had dabbled in craft beer a bit, but he ended up learning more in two weeks than he ever could’ve imagined, leading to him to begin brewing in his garage for his friends. Before long, requests were forthcoming. After winning the first competition he entered, he bought more equipment and started looking for funding. What followed was the humbling experience of getting rejected from 20-plus banks before he finally found a lender who saw his vision.
Kunken opened the brewery and taproom at the same time in 2019, started distributing a year later and bought a canning machine during Covid to keep the dream afloat. Although Kunken wasn’t looking to expand quite yet, things fell into place for a second location, in nearby Jacksonville, which opened in May of 2023.
“I like to think, at least currently, what sets us apart is that I do everything myself. … I wouldn’t mind adding some people down the road and setting some bigger things in motion, but it’s important to create a good reputation first.” — Ryan Kunken
The space: Springfield Beer Company’s taproom in Springfield has a clean, industrial feel. It’s casual and unpretentious with purposely just a few TVs, as conversation is encouraged.
The second taproom, in the heart of Jacksonville, a little more than a half hour away, is in a former bank and features 12 taps, a spacious seating area, chandeliers and plenty of potential for event hosting.
Interesting note: “I like to think, at least currently, what sets us apart is that I do everything myself,” Kunken tells us. “I do all the recipe writing, brewing, keg washing, you name it. Consistency is key for me right now, because I also have a full-time job and a family at home. I wouldn’t mind adding some people down the road and setting some bigger things in motion, but it’s important to create a good reputation first.”
The consistent No. 1 seller is their coffee blonde ale that’s aged with whole coffee beans. “It’s lighter in color, but you get all the coffee flavors and aromas. Even if you don’t like coffee, people tend to like the beer.”
What we’re eating and drinking: There are 15 taps for Springfield’s own brews, providing a wide variety for everyone from the light lager drinker to a fan of 14% stouts. The consistent No. 1 seller is their coffee blonde ale that’s aged with whole coffee beans.
“It’s lighter in color, but you get all the coffee flavors and aromas,” Kunken says. “Even if you don’t like coffee, people tend to like the beer.” Hungry? You can bring your own food or order from the burger joint next door.
On the horizon: Springfield Brewing Company broke ground on a new 7,000-square-foot production facility in early October that includes a 20-barrel system, 40-barrel fermenters and an automated canning line that will create the opportunity for some contract brewing. With the extra space, Kunken looks forward to brewing more imperial stouts and experimenting with barrel aging.
From the brewery: “I’m thankful for the community and our regular customers who welcome first timers in with open arms and make them feel welcome. Our regulars often give them the breakdown of our beers before our bartenders can even engage them. We’re really lucky in that way with our loyal customers who have gotten behind our business and helped it grow.” — Owner/brewer Ryan Kunke