Brews on Tap
By French MacLean | Photography by Bailey Broderick –
The beer team also committed to three core principles: Provide really good beer on tap; offer a place for friends to hang out; and run a pub for people who love beer and brewing.
It’s been nearly a century since Decatur had its own brewery, but at long last the drought has ended, thanks to four guys on a mission.
Decatur Brew Works (DBW) is the latest venture in “City Limitless.” Experienced brewers and good friends of Charlie McGorray, aka, “Mr. Beer,” Dreux Lewandowski, Stan Rives, Micah Koll and Renee Manring began a quest a year ago to open Decatur’s first craft brewery.
This fearless foursome combined the best ideas from around the region and across the nation — learning that quality trumped size and filling a niche was a good thing. The beer team also committed to three core principles: Provide really good beer on tap; offer a place for friends to hang out; and run a pub for people who love beer and brewing.
They set up shop in a small space on the corner of Main and Main, next to Chinese Tea Garden. While not large enough for mass production, there was adequate space to install a three-barrel system, which produces 93 gallons of the same type of beer at the same time. There’s room to seat about 75 patrons, plus a bar with 24 taps — perhaps the widest selection of drafts in Decatur.
In addition to on-premise beer sales, the pub also sells growlers — 64-ounce dark glass bottles, which can be refilled and consumed offsite. In short, craft beer to go.
DBW’s plan is to start with ales, such as Weiss Beer, Brown Ale, IPA, Scotch Ale and an award-winning Porter. Variety is key: Brewers will have four basic DBW beers available all the time, and two seasonal specialties on tap at any one time. The remaining 18 taps will feature other regional craft beers, as well as hard-to-get domestic and foreign micro brews. A nice selection of wine is available, too.
Decatur Brew Works doesn’t offer food, which was a strategic decision by the owners. Knowing that downtown Decatur was already replete with excellent eateries, they felt they could create synergy between DBW and those establishments. Their website, www.decaturbrewworks.com, says it best:
“What makes DBW unique is that we are strictly a tap room. We’re not the best chefs in the world, so we opted out of serving food (although we’ll have some killer popcorn available.) You are encouraged to bring in your own food — brown bag it, order a pizza or bring a plate of ‘Paco’s Tacos.’ We don’t care. We’re there to make sure you don’t get thirsty in the process!”
The concept also adds mobility — patrons can spend parts of the evening at different locations, all within easy walking distance. The art of the pub-crawl (visiting and patronizing multiple pubs/restaurants in one night) has been a fine tradition from “Merry Olde England” for many years. Perhaps Decatur’s in the process of creating its own version.
After 100 years in the dry, parched desert of no breweries, “City Limitless” says “cheers” — and extends a warm welcome to the fearless foursome of Decatur Brew Works.
A Class All Its Own
The Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as:
• Small – less than 6 million barrels annually;
• Independent – not owned by a large non-craft brewer, and;
• Traditional – a brewery that has a majority of its total volume in
beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing
ingredients and their fermentation.
Contributor French MacLean is a regular and enthusiastic patron of Decatur Brew Works.
This article originally appeared in the December/January 2016 issue of Decatur Magazine.
It may not be reproduced or redistributed in whole or in part without the publisher’s consent.
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