LEMONT – The space may be empty now, but Brian Pawola has big ideas about how it will be when he opens the Pollyanna Brewing Company at 431 Talcott Ave., Lemont.
Pawola, who is the head brewer and founder of the business, hopes to have his beers on tap in the village and other area towns by this summer.
The brewery is a major career change for the 27-year-old Woodridge resident, who formerly worked in health care IT.
Pawola sat down with Shaw Media reporter Dan Farnham at the future location of his business to discuss how he came to own a microbrewery in Lemont.
Farnham: How did you get started in the brewing business?
Pawola: Professionally I got started by going to the Siebel Institute of Technology and doing their master brewer program. I did that last February. That’s a six-month program at one of the best brewing schools in the world. It involved two months in Chicago – just bookwork and studying. Then it’s four months in Germany, where it’s all hands-on brewing experience and technical training under professional German brewers, which are notoriously the best in the world.
So, it was a very intense, rigorous six months, but I pretty much learned everything it takes to run a brewery, produce good beer and distribute it across the country, which we would like to do.
Farnham: Why did you get into brewing?
Pawola: I was in health care IT before. I had a marketing background, as well, and I always had an entrepreneurial itch. But at the same time, I was creative. I like to cook. I wanted to use my hands for something that I did for a career. … So I figured that I’d take my passion for brewing and make a career out of it. And the best way to do that was by going to the Siebel Institute of Technology and doing it right, rather than just opening a brewery as a homebrewer and learning as I go. With the professional education that I got, I think we’re going to be able to do things right from the beginning.
Farnham: How did you chose this location in Lemont?
Pawola: We found this location by accident. One of our founders was actually at the vet next door. They were talking about how we were looking for a space, and our neighbors said that this space right here has been open for five years. So they took him over, and they looked at it right away. He knew it would be perfect for a brewery because there’s plenty of space downstairs and a perfect spot for a tap room upstairs. We chose Lemont, as well, once we saw the space because we like the small, historic feel that it has. A lot of people are very proud to live in Lemont. … We want them to be proud of this brewery, as well.
Farnham: What kind of features are you planning for the brewery?
Pawola: We’re going to have a tap room upstairs. It will comfortably seat 45 people. We’re going to have 10 to 12 of our own draft lines. We’ll be serving only our own beer. We won’t have any food, but we are welcoming people to order food in from local restaurants. … We’re going to have very approachable but experimental beer. We’re going to have something that people that aren’t very familiar with craft beer can get into right away. But, we’re also going to have things that the biggest craft beer fans out there are going to want to seek out. … We have the capcity to brew 3,000 barrels of beer a year to start. We have the room in the brewery to double that.
Farnham: When do you plan to open?
Pawola: We’re going to hopefully start brewing in May and have the tap room open in June. We need about a month to get enough inventory of beer for other places as well as our own tap room.