BEVERLY — Neil Byers and John Brand did their best "Laverne & Shirley" impression Monday by riding on a forklift carrying brewing equipment.
Byers owns Horse Thief Hollow, a popular brewpub at 10426 S. Western Ave. in Beverly. On March 9, Brand bought O'Brien's Pub at 10934 S. Western Ave. in Morgan Park.
Brand plans to shut down the bar at the end of October to convert O'Brien's to a brewpub as well. Open Outcry Brewing Co. will debut in the spring, relying on the eight beer-making tanks that had been used by Horse Thief Hollow until June 27.
"John is taking an already established bar and building something that is in both of our interests," said Byers, who replaced the smaller tanks he'd been using since 2012 with seven, larger tanks.
Two of the new tanks at Horse Thief Hollow were purchased with the proceeds from a $25,000 award Byers won from the the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce on June 9, 2015. Byers, a 33-year-old Beverly native and resident, won the 2015 James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award.
The larger tanks doubled the brewing capacity at Horse Thief Hollow, which Byers is using to position himself for a distribution. Currently, Byers and his brewmaster Dave Williams strictly sell their beer at the restaurant.
The pair are ramping up the capacity with plans to bring three of their South Side beers to restaurants and taverns throughout area by the fourth quarter, said Byers, adding that any future plans to venture into package sales will depend on how this latest expansion effort is embraced.
That said, Horse Thief Hollow's popular 18th Rebellion and Annexation Ale will be among the first to test the wider market. Byers plans to push these staple brews alongside a seasonal beer that will change every two months.
He's already thinking of offering Green Beret, an English brown ale dry hopped with pistachios, on a seasonal basis along with a Peppermint Mocha Cream Stout called Santa's Secret Stout around the holidays.
"I think there are a lot of bars that are looking for that thing that is unique, that is out there on a limited basis," Byers said.
As for Brand, he said both Byers and Williams have been very supportive as his plan to open a nearby brewery inches closer to reality. All of the men agreed that having a pair of breweries on Western Avenue will make the area more of a destination for craft beer enthusiasts.
"The beer community is good for that. It's more collaboration than competition," Williams said Monday.
That spirit of collaboration played out Monday as Byers strapped the first of his former beer tanks to a forklift and drove it 1.2 miles to O'Brien's Pub at 10934 S. Western Ave. in Morgan Park. Brand plans to store the tanks until they are ready to be installed at his new brewery.
The deal not only kept the equipment in the neighborhood, but it also saved Brand on shipping costs. Brand added that the tanks were the perfect size for his upstart brewery.
"Any time someone is investing in the neighborhood like that, I am going to be supportive," Byers said.
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