I know one potential reader of this column is thinking, “Hey, why didn’t I get one of these write-ups?”
That could be Alex Lovinggood, who recently left Brickstone Brewery for greener pastures in Iowa at Barn Town Brewing. Lovinggood is not the only brewer to walk through the doors of Brickstone during the time I have been doing this column that I had talked to about doing a write up on but ultimately didn’t get around to doing so. Here’s to you Johnny Thompson, Matt Offerman, Steve Miller and Alex Lovinggood — I finally did it, but you guys left too soon.
This week, I got a chance to ask some questions about the newest member of the Brickstone Brewing team, Justin Lincoln, who comes to Bourbonnais from Chicago’s South Loop brewing outfit Motor Row Brewing.
Johnny “T” Thompson started his brewing career at Brickstone Brewing, and left for the warmer climes of Key West, Fla., to be a brewer at The Waterfront Brewery. Then, Matt Offerman, brother of actor Nick Offerman, brewed at the production facility and moved up the road to Tribes Brewing in Mokena. Steve Miller also brewed with Brickstone, both in the brewpub and the production facility and jumped up to Hailstorm Brewing in Tinley Park. The most recent departure was Lovinggood, who was also the secretary of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and Brewpub brewer for Brickstone and hit the road for Barn Town Brewing. Cheers to all of these high-class and high-quality human beings — you will be missed.
That is where Justin Lincoln enters the scene. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
First, where are you from and how did you get to Brickstone Brewing?
I was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo. I eventually met my wife and moved to Illinois. About two years ago, I moved from Chicago to a little town called Essex and applied at Brickstone for a shorter commute.
How long have you been brewing, and where did you get your start?
My brother-in-law had one foot in the brewing industry and eventually got me a job working in the tap room at Motor Row Brewing in Chicago, where I worked my way into the cellar and eventually brewing once he moved on. I brewed on a 15 bbl brew house from DME. Brickstone has a similar system from Newlands — it’s just a little smaller and older. I have never done a complete brew on the big daddy, but I’ve done all the steps at one point or another, and, ultimately, I think prefer the pub. It’s just a little more hands-on so you feel as though you have more control of the process. Even if it is just blood, sweat and tears (which, look out, might be a new beer name).
How different are the types of beers you brew here at Brickstone from your last place?
At Motor Row they specialize in German lagers, a fairly mild and nuanced style. At Brickstone, we are more trendy and brewing bolder styles. As far as the learning process goes, I have had to track inventory and am responsible for keeping stock of all pub flagships. It definitely has sharpened a lot of planning skills. I also have been able to learn more about recipe development and seasonal trends.
What was the first craft beer that got you into the business? Has that influenced the beer you like to drink and brew now, and do you have a favorite beer style?
I was working at a steak house that advertised and sold Black and Tans like hot cakes. I was working a shift when I turned 21 and had to try this crazy-looking beer cocktail thing. It was so strange to me only being familiar with Coors Light. I sat down at that bar and ordered my first “crafty” beer. I still will order one every time Guinness and Bass ale are on tap together. As a result, I’d say I enjoy full flavor beer with a low ABV you can keep throwing back.
Is there something you would like to brew at Brickstone?
Brickstone does allow me to have a lot of freedom with the beers I want to brew. We meet and discuss possibilities but ultimately they leave it in my hands, which is a very rewarding experience. I definitely have a love for lagers that hopefully you’ll start to see as the warmer months start rolling in.
Do you listen to anything while you brew?
Music all day every day, and everything from world music, to pop, to hip hop to metal. I like to hope every time someone is in my space, they wonder what I am listening to.
In addition to Lincoln’s work in the brewpub selection, Brickstone is churning out a ton of new beers in the coming weeks and months. Just dropped this weekend is the Haz’d Raspberry in cans and on tap at the brewpub. Last week, they released their first in their new Haz’d X series — 2020-1 — which is out in cans and draft now. Brickstone also is releasing a year-round hazy IPA, Haz’d Juice, which will be a welcome shelf mate to APA and Hopskip around Illinois. They also are planning a 12 pack of APA release sometime later this year. I don’t know how Tommy and George keep this all straight, but I am excited to see so many new offerings from our hometown brewery.
Sweet Sunshine from Brickstone Brewery
ABV: 5.2 percent
Style: Blonde Ale
Notes: Crisp, full-bodied blonde ale with a touch of real vanilla.
Where to Buy: The brewpub in 16-ounce pours for $6 or a 23-ounce draft for $7.
Haz’D X (2020-1) from Brickstone Brewery
ABV: 6.7 percent
Style: IPA – New England
Notes: A deliciously juicy and hazy IPA brewed with variable ingredients and processes resulting in unique combinations and flavor profiles.
Where to Buy: The brewpub in a 16-ounce pour for $6.50 or at Meijer, Jewel and Kroger in six packs of 12-ounce cans.