Jesse Evans doesn’t want to distribute his beer in other states.
Evans, the co-founder of Logan Square-based brewery Ale Syndicate (@AleSyndicate, 2601 W. Diversey Ave.), is an admirer of New Glarus, Wisconsin-based New Glarus Brewing, which does not distribute outside of Wisconsin but enjoys an almost cult-like following in surrounding states. Evans says he’d like Ale Syndicate, which has only been brewing in Logan Square for a couple months, to someday inspire people from other states to trek to Chicago to get some of the beer.
Founders Never Planned to Become Brewers
Evans and his brother, Sam Evans, were entrepreneurs who happened to enjoy good beer before they ever thought of brewing for a living. Their obsession with craft beer began when some winemaker friends introduced the brothers (who were living at the time in Sonoma, California) to beers by Lagunitas Brewing Company (which just recently opened a production facility in Chicago).
“Then we started exploring all the breweries,” Evans says. “We got obsessed.”
That obsession eventually led to the brothers starting to brew their own beer. Evans said the first beer he and his brother made was a Russian red ale.
“It was from a kit,” he says.
Though he now runs a brewery, Evans says he loves that would-be brewers can buy kits to make their own beer and encourages all fans of good beer to try brewing at some point.
“You’re going to make beer and you’re going to be addicted,” he says.
Brewery Truly a ‘Syndicate’
When the Evans brothers began planning Ale Syndicate in 2010, they wanted to make sure they had the best people. But as they found, sometimes, the people they wanted weren’t available. Jesse Evans says that meant they sometimes had to wait.
But that waiting paid off, Evans says, and he says that today, the brewery truly is a syndicate. “We actually have all the best people we could get,” Evans says.
That team includes Bryan Shimkos, for whom Evans has high praise. “He’s a really great beer mind,” Evans says. “I call him a pillar of the craft brewing world in Chicago.”
The syndicate is still growing, Evans says, adding that anyone who has a hand in creating the beers becomes part of it. One of those people, he says is chef Laura Piper of One North Kitchen and Bar in the Loop, which has served Ale Syndicate beer for over a year. Evans says Ale Syndicate and Piper are collaborating on a Thai IPA with kaffir lime leaves and Thai chiles.
“It’s really awesome,” he says.
Logan Square An Ideal Location
Evans says he and his brother looked in a lot of places before deciding to move into the former Midwest Appliance location at 2601 W. Diversey Ave. One main reason they picked Logan Square is so they could be part of the Green Exchange (@GxChicago, 2545 W. Diversey Ave.). But that wasn’t the only reason.
Evans says the craft beer scene in Logan Square is exploding and he and his brother wanted to be a part of that. “This is going to be a great place for beer,” he says.
Focusing on the Beer
Ale Syndicate doesn’t have a taproom or tasting area. There’s very little furniture, save for what’s in a small office area and a beat up couch often occupied by the brewery’s mascot, Sam Evans’ six-month-old puppy Carl. So it might not seem at first blush like the most inviting space.
There will eventually be a taproom, Evans says, but he doesn’t know when that will happen. For now, he says, he just wants to make sure Ale Syndicate is creating the best beer possible.
“Our main focus right now is producing beer,” he says. “Some breweries want to grow as fast as possible. We want to make good beer over time.”
Ale Syndicate Quick Facts
- Ale Syndicate didn’t brew its beers in its own facility until July. Prior to that, according to Ale Syndicate’s website, they partnered with breweries around Illinois to produce the beers.
- According to Jesse Evans, the brewery can produce 725 gallons—or about 40 kegs—of beer per day.