Founders and childhood friends Adam Cieslak and Ari Megalis had a passion for homebrewing that was more than just a hobby. They got their first taste of brewing on a larger scale when they began concocting craft beer at Megalis’ family-owned banquet hall in suburban Chicago.
“They were really into the idea of creating that liquid art, whether it’s beer or spirits, whiskey, and it got a little bit out of hand,” brewer and brand manager Adam Smith said jokingly.
Cieslak and Megalis moved into an industrial warehouse in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood in October 2014, and officially started brewing and distilling on a commercial scale. In January, they hired Smith as their brand manager, following his coursework at Siebel Institute of Technology, which offers professional courses in brewing and distilling.
“For us, it’s about good, well-made clean beer,” Smith told BeverageDaily.
“We have evolved our process with the beers within the two years that we’ve been open.”
Maplewood Brewery now boasts 11 varieties of beer including two of its mainstays: The Charlatan, a pale ale with citrus notes, and Fat Pug, an oatmeal stout that can be found on nitro tap year-round at several Chicago bars.
Fall flavors brewing
For fall, Maplewood Brewery & Distillery collaborated with local coffee roaster Metric Coffee Co. to create its Guatemalan Bam Bam beer using single-origin Guatemalan coffee beans, set to launch next month.
A dark “brown-red” saison, which has yet to be named, will also be released this fall and will include cranberries in its flavor profile.
“I’m from New England, so I’m very excited about putting cranberry in a beer,” Smith said.
The team at Maplewood also continually updates its popular “Juice Series,” which includes “Juice Pants” and “Son of Juice” IPAs, and will be introducing a specialty release next month.
A canned approach
Maplewood Brewery & Distillery is in the process of transitioning from its 22-ounce glass bomber bottles to cans because according to Smith, “that’s where the market is going.”
“Bombers are a very hard sell these days,” Smith said. “People are willing to buy a bomber every once in a while. It’s a like a bottle of wine. It’s not for your everyday drinkers.”
Customers can expect to see the brewery’s year-round beers in 16-ounce cans packaged in 4-packs and 6-packs, Smith said.
However, they will continue to offer some of their limited-edition beer varieties in 22-ounce bombers such as Juice Pants, which is typically released once per quarter and sells out within a week, Smith said.
“We change the hops every time it’s released, so we’re saying this is going to be different every time it comes out,” Smith said.
“It gives people a reason to want to buy that large format.”
Maplewood Brewery & Distillery also has plans to open up a tap and tasting room to the public.