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Meet Grant Hamilton of Imperial Oak Brewing in Willow Springs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grant Hamilton.

Grant, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Myself and another home brewer, Brett Semenske, met at a home brewer’s club meeting. We had talked about opening a brewery of our own for about 3 years and finally decided it was time to take that jump. We mentioned this prospect to the owner of the bar that the brew club met at, Chris DiBraccio. Between the three of us we had 9 years of award winning homebrew recipes and 13 years of bar ownership experience. We decided to all join forces and peruse building a brewery which could showcase each of our strong suits. We began looking for a location for the brewery and filed for our LLC in February of 2013. We opened our doors on May 15th of 2013 and have had success with our brewery and business model ever since. Our brewery has continued to grow each year in both brewing barrelage and customer base. We recently have double our capacity for seating with an expansion in our pub, and have added multiple brewing tanks to accommodate a sour beer program and the increase in patronage. We continue to offer unique barrel aged bottle releases each month and will soon be adding more tap handles to our pub that will pour the new sour and wild line of beers dubbed “Savage Oak”.

During the summer, we have a large dog friendly patio and host food trucks 4 days a week. We tie the year together with three large tented events for Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day and our anniversary party.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been smoother than expected, but I wouldn’t say it’s been easy. The growth of both the craft beer industry and its knowledgeable consumers has been key to our success. Having enough space for the folks that want to visit, and enough beer for everyone is one of our biggest ongoing concern. Knowing when to add staff, more space, and increase brewing (equipment) has been our primary concern month to month. Not being stagnant, but always working to stay ahead of the curve on beer trends, styles, and new ingredients has also helped us keep our patrons coming back.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Imperial Oak Brewing – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Imperial Oak Brewing is an independent craft brewery specializing in barrel aged and stronger ABV beer while still offering many lighter styles for those who prefer a session-able beer. We currently have 16 draft handles, 15 of which are our beer, and the 16th being a locally made Cyser. We also offer a full spirits bar and monthly specialty cocktails. All of our beer is sold on site either in bottles or packaged fresh from tap into a Growler (64oz glass jug) or Crowler (32oz can) to go. In order to keep quality at its highest, our beers are not found sitting on shelves or on taps at any other location other than our pub.

I began as one of the brewers with my partner Brett, but we quickly found that there are many other crucial tasks that lay under the surface that keep a brew pub functioning. I now deal with brewery operations in and out of house including liaison to the gov’t, media, community reps, and peers in the industry. I work with construction contractors during projects and maintenance post construction. I’m the lead event coordination and handle the promotions and marketing work. I also source anything from brewing ingredients and equipment all the way through graphic art creation, and the general branding for our merchandise and brewery.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have nearly reached capacity at our current location. Now, making what we have work on the highest level is a priority. We are focused on making our newly added “Savage Oak” seating space and sour line of beers get the attention they need in order to make them as successful as possible. We are always trying to find creative ways to get people into our pub, whether it be new food trucks, bottle release parties, trivia Tuesdays, and our recently added Beer & Yoga class. Continually keeping your pub experience fun and interesting is our goal. If we can continue to provide that, there may then be room to expand our brand which would mean taking on distribution or possibly adding a second Imperial Oak Brewing location near you!

Pricing:

  • 16 oz beers start at $5 with daily specials Sunday though Thursday.
  • 32oz Crowlers cans to-go start at $8, Growler jugs to-go start at $16

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Grant Hamilton
Michael Murray

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