Local nanobrewery to open new tap room

Billy Kobin, Reporter

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An Evanston nanobrewery announced plans last week to expand into a new space next to its current location in the city’s Main-Chicago district.

Sketchbook Brewing Co., 825 Chicago Ave., aims to open its new location, a tap room at 821 Chicago Ave., by the end of March. The tap room will house the retail operations of the brewery, while the current location will continue to serve as the production facility, said Cesar Marron, one of Sketchbook’s principal owners and brewers.

“We’re not moving anything,” Marron said. “We’re just basically creating an extension of the brewery, which is a production facility. We’re creating a tap room for customers to come in, relax …  have a beer and talk to people.”

Sketchbook is owned by Marron and Shawn Decker and opened on Nov. 21 2014. It currently sells growlers and howlers — jugs of beer — to customers four days a week in its production facility, where the company brews its selection of more than 20 beers. Sketchbook sells its beers to several local restaurants and bars, but the new tap room will serve as both a restaurant and bar for the business itself, Marron said.

We hope our neighbors will find a new ‘local’ at Sketchbook,” Decker said in a news release announcing the expansion.

Decker said the tap room will have extended hours compared to those of the current facility, and food and pints will be sold there. Marron added that Sketchbook will possibly sell sandwiches from restaurants such as Sauce and Bread Kitchen, 6338-40 Clark St.

“We’re going to be promoting the restaurants around us here so that people will then … grab a sandwich or grab a burger somewhere to go and then sit at the tap room,” Marron said.

Paul Zalmezak, an economic development official for Evanston, said he thinks Sketchbook and the craft brewing industry as a whole are in an exciting phase right now, and the new tap room will be an appropriate addition to Evanston.

“It’s going to be great for the Chicago-Main neighborhood, because it’s just another option for people to gather and drink beer,” Zalmezak said. “I live in that neighborhood, and I think the neighborhood is excited about it.”

The business will also continue its community-supported brewery model at its tap room, Marron said. The CSB model allows customers to become members at Sketchbook and pay for six months or a year of growler fills at a discounted price. However, customers do not have to be CSB members to buy beer through the company.

Zalmezak said Sketchbook’s CSB model is unique and adds to the community by encouraging residents to buy local.

“There’s not one (brewery) like it, and I think that just builds more of a community feel,” Zalmezak said. “You feel like you’re investing in the brewery.”

Although the tap room will bring some new aspects to Sketchbook, Marron said the focus of the new space will continue to be on the company’s beer.

“We do what we do best, which is our beers,” Marron said.

Email: williamkobin2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Billy_Kobin