The Scoop: Southern Illinois breweries continue to multiply


Southern Illinois looks to become a hotbed for craft brewing in 2014. Granite City will see Six Mile Brewery and Smokehouse open sometime in late spring or early summer; Recess Brewery is expected to begin brewing this fall on Main Street in Edwardsville. A third brewery, 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., is coming to Belleville, and if everything goes as planned, its beer will be flowing by May 1.

As the name implies, 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., will make its home at 4204 W. Main St., in downtown Belleville. The brewery, which will also have a restaurant and bar, is located in the former space of now defunct Amarillo Tex’s Steakhouse. Amarillo’s and Main Street Brewing are both ventures by Todd Kennedy and his wife Julia Kennedy, along with Todd Kennedy’s parents. The couples also own four area Golden Corral locations as well as Julia’s Banquet Center in East Alton.

The brewmaster for Main Street will be Tony Toenjes, former brewmaster for Excel Brewery, in Breeze, Ill. Toenjes worked at Excel for a year and a half, helping to get its brewing operation off the ground, he explained. He left Excel in January to join the Kennedys. At Main Street, Toenjes plans to have eight beers available at any given time. Beer drinkers can look for a California common rye, a lager, an American wheat, a blonde ale and an IPA. Toenjes is also considering a hefeweizen, a blackberry porter, brown ales, Scottish ales and even seasonal ciders. “We’ll mix it up quite a bit,” he said. He noted that this year marks the 200th anniversary for the city of Belleville, and that he’ll be creating a pecan ale for that occasion.

Toenjes anticipates brewing between 500 and 800 barrels in the first year of operation. Main Street’s brews will be available on draft at the brewery, and down the road, Toenjes hopes to get them in other area watering holes. “We’re going to self-distribute at first,” said Kennedy, who plans to focus on distribution in Madison and St. Clair counties. The brewery does not have immediate bottling plans.

Those looking to grab a bite at 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., can expect a burger-centric lunch menu and a dinner menu with a “steakhouse-theme,” said Kennedy. “The real neat part is that we’re going to use spent grain and spent yeast to make our own beer bread, beer pretzels and beer cheese,” he added, noting that everything, including the bread, will be made in-house.

Those familiar with Amarillo Tex’s Steakhouse will notice a transformation to the space, which has undergone a gut renovation. Glass windows in the dining area will provide a view to the brewing operation. “It was a rustic look,” Toenjes said. “Now, it’s more elegant: a lot of stone, dark woods, lots of glass.”

By Ligaya Figueras

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 at 2:48 pm and is filed under Drinking, The Scoop. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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