A couple of months ago a dear friend told us that we had to speak to a few friends of hers–they were opening a new brewery in Logan Square, had killer beer, an amazing space and were really nice. We love meeting new people so of course we got in touch and it all turned out to be true. Hopewell Brewing Co. opened its doors in February of this year and are quickly becoming one of the prime spots to hit on the west side of the city. Founders Jonathan, Stephen and Samantha are committed to making beer that they want to drink and share with you. They are floating to the top because of pushing themselves with not only flavor but experience. Hopewell makes sure that from the moment you walk into their taproom you're surrounded by inspiration, creativity and community. Make sure to go check them out, play a game or two, grab a bite to eat from the frequently visiting food trucks, sign up for a beer study or just have a few drinks with friends. Cheers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
There are three partners at Hopewell - myself, my husband Stephen and our good friend Jonathan. The three of us met in college, and have remained close since (obviously, since two of us are married to each other!). We also have four taproom staff and one brand rep working for Hopewell. We're a small team, and everyone is super dedicated and excited about our small but growing business - plus we know how to have fun. We're very fortunate.
Walk us through a typical day at Hopewell.
The typical day at Hopewell depends a lot on what's going on - are we brewing today? Packaging? Do we have an event in the taproom? Meetings to talk through potential collabs? Even though we are a small business, we try very hard to make sure our calendars are updated and that we maintain at least a semblance of a work schedule. This is because we are essentially operating 3 businesses at Hopewell - a brewery, taproom and self-distribution. When we are filling kegs in the brewery, I need to make sure I'm available to help with that since the kegs are too heavy for just Stephen (our brewer) to fill, and Jonathan is out most days delivering kegs to our accounts. And then of course, managing the taproom keeps us very busy.
Where do you find inspiration?
We find inspiration from a variety of creative industries. Have you ever read the Monocle Guide to Small Business? Not all of it rings true to us, as some of the suggestions are a bit too precious for us - but we look towards other craft industries from pottery to fashion to food for inspiration. All of these industries rely on a basic appreciation for well-made things that make people happy. We see ourselves as part of this happy-making industry, our beer is best enjoyed with friends but aren't most things?
How do you make time for creativity and collaboration?
Creativity and collaboration are absolutely essential for us so that we can continue to challenge ourselves and learn. We are also very fortunate to be a part of an industry with so many talented folks with great vision, it makes it really exciting to collaborate. Sometimes we can get stuck in the weeds - and those weeds are very important - but it is so important for our collective sanity to be creative.
What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started?
Trust yourself! The biggest challenge, at least for me, in starting out was learning to trust my own judgement. Decision-making can be daunting, but we quickly learned that the worst thing that could happen is that you end up needing to course correct and make adjustments. Since we are so new to having a small business, almost everything is a learning experience, so we can get too hung up on what's the right or wrong way to do something. We try our best to make the best choice, and that's all you can really do!
What has been your favorite collaboration thus far? Why?
We made a coffee beer with Ipsento, called Cold Brew a few months ago. This is first foray into working with another small company and using additional ingredients in our beers. The Ipsento team proved to be excellent thought partners and we were in the same page about how we wanted the coffee to shine in our beer. They got our whole approach and were able to guide us to the right bean. We had several productive tasting meetings which are always fun because they involve our two favorite beverages! We ended up with a beer that was surprising and delicious. It's got bright berry notes but remains mellow, something that can be hard to achieve in this kind of pairing.
What is one way that Hopewell wants to push itself with creativity?
We like to push ourselves to think beyond what's been done and especially what's been done in our industry. That's why our taproom looks the way it does, why our color palette is what it is, and why our beers are thoroughly forward thinking and modern. If we're going to try something new we like to challenge ourselves to do it in a way that is unique to us.
With a growing beer industry how do you guys want to differentiate yourself?
We ask ourselves this all the time! On the business side of things, we work very hard to prioritize service to our customers in the taproom and in the industry. Even though we are small we think big– we demand plan and try to have inventory stocked as best as possible. We think this goes a long way and shows our customers that we respect their time and business. In terms of our brand philosophy and beer we're really striving for clean, bright beer. Our goal is to be accessible even though that can be a sort of taboo word. But we think, being accessible inherently means to be welcoming and communal. Our beers are meant to be shared with friends because it's what we love to do as well.