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Sycamore City Council OKs special use permit for brewpub

SYCAMORE – The process for James Heinrich to open a brewery and restaurant in Sycamore has already taken two years, but he is now one step closer to reaching his goal.

Sycamore City Council voted 7-0 Monday to approve a request for a special use permit in order to open a brewpub in the north end of the building at 1330 E. State St., Sycamore, formerly occupied by Open Air Motor Sports.

A special use permit was needed for the property, located in the highway business district, because of the on-site brewing of beer, city documents show.

"About seven years ago, my friend introduced me to brewing," said Heinrich, who lives in Sycamore Township. "It became an over the top hobby. My friends said, 'We need a place like this.' "

Today, an architect will draw blueprints of the 3,000 square-foot facility for which 500 square-feet will be used for brewing operations. Heinrich also needs to complete an application with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to allow him to brew.

The application process can take 110 days to approve. Construction, such as putting in new drains and breaking the concrete floor, also needs to be done, so Heinrich is targeting a December opening.

The brewpub, tentatively called Forge Brew House, will seat about 75 people and include a fire-brick oven in which pizza, ribs, sausages and casseroles will be cooked.

Perhaps the biggest draw of the business will be its craft beers. Heinrich wants to have four mainstay ales like IPA's and two to four seasonal beers such as pumpkin ale. He is focusing on brewing ales since they take only two or three weeks to make, whereas lagers take about six to eight weeks. Brewers use brite beer tanks are used in the carbonation of beer.

Heinrich will apply for a class H liquor license with the city to allow him to sell the beer he makes on site, according to city documents. Six to eight brite beer tanks will hold more than 200 gallons of beer each.

But Heinrich isn't the only local planning to open a brewery. Andrew Nordman, owner of Cademon Brewing, hopes to open his microbrewery at 217 W. Main St. in downtown Genoa by October.

Efforts for Nordman to operate the microbrewery in Sycamore fell through when another tenant rented the space before Nordman signed the lease. Now, his lease with Prairie State Winery allows him to operate at the winery's tasting room as Prairie State will move across the street to the former location of Victoria's Crossing, 220 W. Main St., Genoa.

"The opportunity was far too good to pass up," Nordman said.

Nordman is waiting for five liquor licenses, including federal and state brewer's licenses, before he can open. Operations will include brewing more than 900 gallons of beer a week.

What's next

An architect will draw blueprints today for the brewpub at 1330 E. State St., Sycamore, that owner James Heinrich hopes to open in December. Meanwhile, Andrew Nordman is waiting for five liquor licenses to open a microbrewery at 217 W. Main St. in downtown Genoa by October.

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