LOGAN SQUARE — They may still be working out of the basement, but the guys behind Kimbell Brewing hope to soon join the ranks of Logan Square's exploding craft beer scene.
Those guys — Andrew Lautner and Matt Kanable — discovered their shared love of beer in true hip Logan Square style, long before it was cool.
They met in the late '90s while attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and quickly acquired a taste for the less common craft beers that at the time came from a handful of breweries across the Midwest and others scattered across the country.
"We had access to things like Bell's, Upland and Sierra Nevada," Lautner said. "So we've always kind of been into that scene."
Eventually the two ended up in Chicago and decided to start brewing their own beer about five years ago.
Like many home brewers, they started casually, but soon expanded to making new varieties and found they were pretty good at it.
By law they couldn't sell the beer, or even take it out of Kanable's Logan Square house where they brewed it. But that all changed last summer when a new law was passed that let beer enthusiasts serve up their suds outside the home — as long as they don't charge for it.
It didn't take long for beer lovers to set up events showcasing home brews and for Lautner and Kanable to jump aboard, such as at last weekend's Brew Ha Ha Ha in Bucktown where their beer got plenty of attention.
"It was interesting, because people were asking us where we were located and where they could buy our beer," Lautner said.
In an unusual move that may become more common with Illinois' new home-brewing laws, the two began branding their beer as soon as they decided they eventually wanted to go commercial.
They called it Kimbell Brewing after Martin Kimbell, a farmer who laid down his roots in Logan Square 175 years ago.
They plan to get the ball rolling on a commercial enterprise this year, though Lautner admits that with the explosion of craft brewers he wishes they started sooner.
"Hindsight being what it is, we get kind of mad we weren't doing this in college," he said with a laugh.
Still, he believes they'll be able to offer a few variations on some old classics, such as farmhouse ales and IPAs, as well as some lesser known varieties, such as Kentucky Common beer, a dark ale popular in the early 1900s in its namesake state and brewed in whiskey casks.
"It really is open to interpretation to some degree," Lautner said of the unusual brew. "We've done it once — with success."