Alarmist Brewing View Full Caption
SAUGANASH — Gary Gulley’s reasons for opening Sauganash’s only brewery are many.
“Beer is sort of this wonderful intersection of science and art,” said Gulley, president and founder of Alarmist Brewing. “It lets you be creative, it lets you be analytical and logical. And I also get to build s—. So it satisfies all my needs at once.”
Alarmist Brewing, which will be in a 10,000-square-foot facility with 16-foot ceilings at 4055 W. Peterson Ave., is set to debut in early November.
It will be the only brewery in the neighborhood, according to Sauganash Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Herren.
She said the brewery will sit on the site of the former Siebel Institute of Technology, America’s oldest brewing school now located at 1777 N. Clybourn Ave. in Lincoln Park. Siebel was located at the Peterson address from 1952-2002.
“It’s always great to see new businesses opening in Sauganash,” Herren said. “We’re excited to have Alarmist Brewing right here on Peterson Avenue and wish Gary much success.”
Gulley said he chose the Northwest Side space because of the high ceilings, which he said are hard to find, and “there aren’t any breweries up here.”
On Friday, concrete was removed to create a new foundation, and 25-cubic-foot chest freezer was installed. The freezer will hold 300-plus pounds of hops from New Zealand, which will be used to create Gulley’s first beer — a pale ale that won’t be very bitter, have lots of taste and be below 5 percent alcohol by volume, Gulley said.
The beer doesn’t have a name yet, and, like the brewery, it’s a work in progress. In the coming months, $325,000 worth of equipment — including a brewhouse kettle, a mash tun, fermenters, a bright tank, hot liquor tank, steam boiler, keg washer and walk-in cooler — will be installed. Most of it has been purchased through a Small Business Association loan Gulley recently acquired.
Gulley, 46, of Lincoln Square, has envisioned opening a brewery for 20 years. Gulley has a civil engineering degree from Purdue University and is an Internet and Web developer by trade, but he’s been brewing beer at home since 1991.
In 2010, the idea was further cemented after he attended the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago. The next year, he decided to go for broke after he lost his job, and his wife of 13 years, Bridget, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bridget, a DePaul University graduate, is now in full remission.
“Those things happened, and it was like having a rug pulled out. Right then and there, I knew there was no going back,” Gulley said. “And once we got a good prognosis and knew she was going to be OK, I was off and running.”
Gulley graduated after completing a six-month program with the Vermont-based American Brewers Guild. He then finished a five-week internship with Ravenswood’s Metropolitan Brewing and spent another half-year working on a business model.
“I learned the correct way to run a brewery and not to cut corners,” Gulley said.
Gulley said he has about 20 investors, who include his in-laws, his mother, friends, co-workers and college buddies.
He’s going to start with just the pale ale, then likely expand to a Belgian ale. The beer initially only will be available in kegs, Gulley said. He then hopes to have the product in cans.
Gulley said the pale ale will be distributed in the city and suburbs first, followed by “all of Illinois.”
“Beyond that, who knows,” said Gulley, who plans to hire a single employee — an assistant brewer — soon.
Gulley has two sons — Declan, 10, and Gavin, 7 — and part of his business venture was to show them that “if you work your a– off, you can follow your dreams and make them happen.”
“My youngest said he wants to work for me at the brewery,” Gulley said. “What they don’t understand is they’ve got their summer jobs for the next 10 years or longer.”
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