And, finally, they have beer. Their first release, an imperial porter called Richie, officially hit bars on March 18. They're expecting to launch their next offering, an IPA named Municipal, next week; next up will be Sunday Session, "a hopped-up ale," which they hope to release in about a month. It's a little different from what the brothers were doing in California, where they had a brewery called Lucky Hand that they sold in 2009 when they moved to Chicago. Jesse says they made only lagers there—in Chicago, they're making what Samuel describes as "traditional styles with a twist."
What the Evanses don't have yet is an operational brewery. They've got one in the works in a former train station that's part of the Green Exchange, next door to the main building. In the meantime, they're driving out to brew at Big Chicago Brewing Company in Zion and Galena Brewing Company in Galena. Once it's completed, the brewery will boast a green roof with solar panels, a 30-barrel brewing system, and a taproom with a separate five-barrel system.
What's served in the 40-seat taproom will be more experimental and rotate more frequently than Ale Syndicate's regular lineup. It's not a bar, Samuel says, so much as a place to come talk about beer—and taste some, of course. The brothers are planning to let home brewers use the system for collaborative beers, and at night Arcade, a crowdsourced brewery that found funding through Kickstarter last spring, will use the equipment. "The more people that create beer in Chicago, the better this place is going to be for drinking beer," Jesse says, echoing the distinctly noncompetitive spirit I've found in every local brewer I've ever talked to. They're hoping to move in and start brewing sometime this summer.
A big part of what the brothers seemed excited about when I talked to them in 2011 was the sustainability of the brewery they were starting in the Plant—it was going to be almost zero waste. Though the Green Exchange is, well, green—the LEED-certified building, rehabbed after the Frederick Cooper lamp company moved out in 2005, houses more than a dozen sustainable businesses—it can't offer an anaerobic digester that converts organic waste to biogas (as the Plant did). But Jesse says they have several options available for recycling the brewery's spent grains, yeasts, and water. They're also doing smaller things like making labels that peel off easily so that home brewers can reuse the bottles.