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Horse Thief Hollow Will Expand Beer Production With $25K Award Proceeds

 Neil Byers, owner of Horse Thief Hollow, won the 2015 James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award on Tuesday from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
Neil Byers, owner of Horse Thief Hollow, won the 2015 James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award on Tuesday from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
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BEVERLY — Neil Byers, owner of Horse Thief Hollow in Beverly, won $25,000 on Tuesday and beer drinkers throughout Chicago stand to benefit.

Byers, a Beverly native and resident, won the 2015 James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented at the chamber's annual meeting at Navy Pier.

In the wake of the award presentation, the owner of the brew pub at 10426 S. Western Ave. said he plans to use the proceeds to expand his brewery and explore distribution of several seasonal brews.

The $50,000 expansion will require Byers to replace all five of his five-barrel brewing tanks with 10-barrel tanks. The larger equipment will give Horse Thief Hollow about 1,000 kegs per year to distribute.

The Southwest Side brew pub will likely focus on selling its popular, bimonthly brews outside of the restaurant. These brews rely on Byers' culinary expertise combined with the beer acumen of brewmaster David Williams.

Howard Ludwig says Byers is very involved in Beverly:

The pair are working on a Belgium beer that uses lemon zest and have won awards for their sweet potato beer and others. Should the beers take off, further expansion may be required, Byers said.

As for the chamber of commerce award, he was surprised to be named the winner Tuesday morning. Byers was one of four finalists, one of which was also a finalist on NBC's "Shark Tank" and received an offer from celebrity judge Mark Cuban.

"I think what put me over the top was community involvement," he said.

Indeed, Byers has lent the walls of his restaurant to local artists including those involved with the Beverly Area Arts Alliance, transforming the brew pub into a neighborhood art gallery.

He's also made special beers for the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk, Pat Mac's Pack and others. Horse Thief Hollow then shares the proceeds from these beers with the local charities.

Byers has further partnered with several other Beverly brands. This includes making space on the menu for Hardboiled Coffee Co. and Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies Inc.

"All of those things combined played a major part," said Byers, reflecting on the award that recognizes a high-growth small business that "best represents the spirit and values of the late Chicagoland Chairman and business leader James Tyree."

Byers was named the winner in a room filled with more than 800 business leaders and executives as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Margot Burke Holland, executive director of the Beverly Area Planning Association, was among the smiling hometown faces in the crowd on Tuesday.

"Neil's genuine belief in his business and connection with community is real. I think the committee could see that and have invested in Neil's singular vision," Holland said.

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