A Brewery for a Man's Best Friend

By Benjamin Woodard on January 25, 2013 10:56am 

 Matt and Meghan Gebhardt plan to open 4 Paws Brewery in Edgewater this year with their dog Sadie (inset).
Matt and Meghan Gebhardt plan to open 4 Paws Brewery in Edgewater this year with their dog Sadie (inset).
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Natalie Hofert Photography/Sebastian Orr Photography

EDGEWATER — An Edgewater couple plans to honor their pug-faced boxer named Sadie, who was rescued from a neglectful home, with just the right amount of hops, barley and malt.

Meghan and Matt Gebhardt — newly wed, but longtime Chicagoans — signed a lease for a vacant warehouse just west of the Metra tracks on Wolcott Avenue, the future site of 4 Paws Brewery.

And they'll be serving up more than beer.

A portion of 4 Paws' proceeds, the couple says, will be donated to local animal shelters or hospitals. They might even dedicate a line of beers to the cause.

Sadie was rescued from an abandoned suburban home after the owners apparently skipped town, leaving her pregnant, malnourished and fraught with worms after being left alone for two weeks.

When they adopted her from a shelter, she needed surgery, and Sadie's litter was eventually aborted to save her life.

Matt Gebhardt said the shelter and a veterinarian paid for all the medical care.

"They ate that cost," he said. "That's something that inspires us to give back."

We get "people who say, we support you, because we support dogs," said Meghan Gebhardt.

But are the Gebhardts' more dog people than beer people?

"We're more beer people," said Meghan Gebhardt, pointedly.

"I'm sure our neighbors are thankful for that," her husband added.

Their lease begins April 1, and a Canadian brewery supplier plans to deliver a 15-barrel beer-brewing system that same day. Each barrel can hold two kegs of beer.

Other microbreweries of a similar size, such as Metropolitan at 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave., not far to the south, have welcomed 4 Paws' plan to move into the neighborhood, "which you don't always get when you're opening as a competitor," said Meghan Gebhardt.

The Gebhardts' plan to sell their beers in bottles and on tap to North Side restaurants and specialty alcohol shops. A main focus will be Andersonville's eateries, they said.

Matt Gebhardt, the designated brewmaster, plans to kick off the summer with batches of Brindle Amber, named after the color of Sadie's fur, and Fawn Blonde Ale, named after the fur color of a tannish boxer.

Gebhardt began brewing three years ago when his brother bought him a home-brewing kit for Christmas.

But it was never a hobby for the Gebhardts.

"We always wanted to open a brewery," he said, though still blaming his brother for setting him on the brewing path. "It's mostly his fault."

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