There was genuine excitement in John Brand’s voice Tuesday morning.
“Wow – I literally just made our very first delivery of beer,” the owner of Open Outcry Brewing said while walking out from Armanetti Town Liquor at 100th and Western. “From the day we opened, those guys have asked me when they could buy our beer. Well, that’s today!”
Thanks to changes in distribution laws pushed by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild in 2021, Brand has been able to continue the growth he first envisioned when he opened his Beverly brewpub almost six years ago.
For the first time, beers from Open Outcry can be found on tap handles and in coolers around the Chicago area – Armanetti’s was the first of many stops for Brand this week. More than a dozen bars, restaurants and bottle shops are on his list and he’ll be at Crafted 1979 in Mokena on Friday night for a celebratory tapping. It’s the first of many special appearances he’ll be making in the next few weeks, introducing himself and his brand to a wider audience.
“We wanted to establish ourselves with the brewpub format and learn the business, build the brand and earn people’s trust before moving into packaging,” he said. “We didn’t expect a pandemic in that and had to call a few audibles, but we’re doing it.”
They’re saying hello to that wider audience with Delirio, their double-dry hopped hazy IPA made with citra and mosaic hops, which he says is their second-best selling beer. The first, Speculator, is an easy-drinking cream ale which along with a pilsner, will be next on their distribution list.
Their shift to distributing beyond just crowlers from the brewpub is happening thanks in part as well to a contractual agreement with Noon Whistle. There, Paul Kreiner operates on a 30-barrel system, compared to the 7-barrel system at Open Outcry.
“They’ve been so great to work with and we’re really fortunate to be working with them in Naperville,” Brand said.
He’s taking advantage of the law allowing small breweries like his to self-distribute up to 400 barrels a year, while also keeping an eye around the corner.
“We get to test the market, see if customers want to buy our beer and take it from there,” he said. “We’ve had some real success as a brewpub over the last 5-1/2 years and always wanted to see if our beer might be desirable among other Chicago beer drinkers. So we’re testing the market and if it’s successful, we’ll talk about next steps.”