Byers brewing to open for Corn Fest

Noah Thornburgh

After a few delays, Byers Brewing Company is opening its doors for a limited time during Corn Fest, beginning Aug. 23.

Byers Brewing Company, 230 E. Lincoln Highway, germinated in high school sweethearts Megan and Steve Byers’ kitchen in 2010 while they were attending Illinois State University. Steve said concocting homemade batches of beer on his stove inspired him to study biology and chemistry.

Steve works as a science teacher at DeKalb High School, and Megan works at Delnor Hospital in Geneva. They have three daughters. Emilia, nine months old, smiles as holding duties are rotated between parents. Kennedy, four, and Lily, six, stack blocks on a table in a corner of the store the Byers call the kid’s corner, part of their efforts to make the brewery family-friendly.

When classes start, Megan plans to manage the day-to-day sales operations while Steve functions as the brewmaster.

{{tncms-inline content=”<p>"You know, alcohol really helps the ideas flow."</p>” id=”e1b7e92e-be69-4bfe-b15a-8d697273a7c6″ style-type=”quote” title=”Steve” type=”relcontent”}}

They want to make the brewery student-friendly, lining the walls with outlets over the hand-crafted wood tables around the space so students can charge electronics while hanging out at the brewery.

“I think we’re going to invest in, at some point, little whiteboards on wheels. [If] you’ve got a group project, you can grab a couple tables and bring a whiteboard over,” Steve said. “You know, alcohol really helps ideas flow.”

The Byers think increasing the pool of craft brewers in town will go a long way toward revitalizing the downtown area. Chicago’s Alulu Brewers made TIF funding requests over the summer from the City Council to build a location in the now closed House Cafe space, although so far its requests have been denied, according to City Council meeting minutes.

Craft brewing is a network economy, Steve said.

“It’s not a pie that you divide up; the pie gets bigger the more there are,” he said. “An example is Napa Valley. You don’t go to Napa Valley because there’s one winery. Napa Valley’s a destination because there are a lot of wineries.”

Megan said she’d like to see more music venues in the downtown area. The couple said they are willing to host artists for acoustic sets and open mics, but they don’t see the pub being able to host full bands.

So far, neighboring businesses have been friendly and helpful, the Byers said. They said their landlord Cohen Barnes, owner of SundogIT, located on the second floor of the building, has been a mentor since they began the process of opening their business in 2017.

The owners of Forge Brewhouse have also been supportive, offering equipment and advice as the pub has been built out, Steve said.

Following the soft opening, the grand opening of the brewery will be Sept. 21, kicking off Oktoberfest.

{{tncms-inline content=”<ul> <li>4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday</li> <li>4 to 10 p.m. Friday</li> <li>2 to 10 p.m. Saturday</li> <li>2 to 9 p.m. Sunday</li> </ul> <p>*Hours may be adjusted depending on customer demand, according to Megan Byers.</p> <p><strong>Contact: </strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/ByersBrewing/" target="_blank">@ByersBrewing</a> on Facebook</p>” id=”eb588188-2ae6-457d-8728-abda11fab096″ style-type=”info” title=”More Information” type=”relcontent”}}