OREGON – Right now, it is a dusty construction site.
But when completed, the building on the corner of Washington Street and IL Route 2 in Oregon will be home to the city’s first microbrewery.
Joshua Skinner and Brian Wynn, owners of the new Ogle County Brewery, plan to open this fall.
“We really want to bring an authentic beer taste back to the craft brewing,” said Skinner, who is from Byron.
The two friends have been wanting to find something “fun” to do together in their spare time. And as they both enjoy brewing beer, Wynn’s suggestion of a brewery made sense. So, the two went to the Oregon City Council and Mayor Ken Williams to discuss constructing a new building for the brewery. Skinner said Williams suggested the building at 400 W. Washington St.
“We walked in here … and just kind of fell in love with the building,” said Skinner, who owns a construction company in Florida and resurfacing companies in Illinois.
It was built in 1881 and is owned by Mark Gale and Kevin Wiegmann. Skinner said they struck a deal and got to work. He said they plan to keep as much of the history of the building as they can and will feature old photos of the property in the brewery when it is complete.
The roughly 3,600 feet upstairs will include all of the brewing equipment as well as a bar where patrons can order a variety of beers and other drinks. Skinner said there will be, “some version of food,” but it has not yet been determined exactly what that will be.
There will be televisions for sports and table games also available upstairs, along with a separate room for gambling machines.
Downstairs will be a gaming room with dart boards, arcade games and even bags, Skinner said. That space also has 12-foot ceilings.
But the core of the business, of course, will be the beer.
“We really want to bring an authentic beer taste back to the craft brewing,” Skinner said.
That means keeping the focus on just that – taste.
“What we really want to do is just really good, authentic, Bavarian/German style beers,” said Wynn, a financial professional who lives in Chana.
“We don’t have to get fancy will all kinds of flavors,” he said. “We can do that; that’s actually easy. That’s a good way to mask things. But we’re just beer fans.”
Skinner promised that their lager will be very special.
“We have a secret that we’re not going to unveil until we open,” he said. “The lagers we have here will be better than anywhere in the state.”
Both stressed that the City of Oregon has been great to work with.
“They’ve been extraordinarily helpful and willing to help us with advice and helping us with a lot of the logistics of getting things done,” Wynn said.
He added that they hope to bring a new clientele to Oregon, something that will benefit all of the other businesses in town.
“We love the direction the mayor and city council are taking the city, so we want to add to it,” Skinner said. “We wanted to bring a business here that would attract people to come in. Not just come in, maybe stay.”