Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois, is geographically the closest “major” production brewery to my suburban Chicago hometown, so when they announce big news, I’m always quite excited for them. Throw in the fact that the brewery’s founding brothers Jim and Jason Ebel share my alma mater, and you get a brewery that I’ve tried to support whenever possible ever since I first got into craft beer. This has included a number of trips to the brewery-adjoining tap house and special events like the yearly release of their DIPA “Hop Juice.”
I was excited, then, to see the brewery announce via its Facebook page* Tuesday afternoon that it would officially begin releasing canned brews. And surprisingly, it’s not even one of their year-round brews or a flagship beer like Domaine DuPage that they’re releasing! Instead, it’s an entirely new beer called Outlaw IPA. It’s something quite unexpected from a brewery that already makes a few different IPAs, but indicative of Two Brothers’ obvious confidence in their product and in their fans.
This is a brewery that has really begun to stretch itself in the last few years, becoming quite bold in doing so. First they imported some gigantic oak foudres and began releasing several year-round oaked beers, including a tasty oaked session ale. Then last year they made the proactive decision to purchase the sprawling, 70,000-foot former “Walter Payton’s Roundhouse” restaurant and open it as the Two Brothers Roundhouse, expanding their restaurant operations accordingly. This building is being retrofitted to brew-on-premises as we speak, and will no doubt produce cool, small-run “house beers” when it does. This year, the brewery’s sour project came into its own with the release of highly acclaimed beers like Askew and Hoodwink, and special releases like Hop Juice Black.
It all smacks of a craft brewery firing on all cylinders. At this point they just aren’t doing much wrong, which makes me all the more optimistic for the first Two Brothers canned beer, Outlaw.
In fact, I can’t help but think it’s this confidence that led the brewery to release an untested, unknown beer as its first canned brew in the first place. Try as I might, I can’t think of any other breweries that have gone from bottling to canning by thinking up a completely new beer to release, instead of simply releasing one of the popular flagships to test the waters. It seems to fly right in the face of business sense, to be honest. But the brewery will do what it pleases, and I applaud them for the ambition.
My only hope is that Outlaw will be a truly in-your-face, American IPA. I sometimes feel that Two Brothers’ most successful beers are maltier offerings like the Domaine DuPage or Cane & Ebel, so it seems like there is room for a bitter, more distinctly “West Coast” brew in the vein of Founders Centennial or a genuine west coast IPA like Green Flash.
However it turns out, though, I could very well be looking at the beer that defines my next summer. And I’m pretty sure those Two Brothers cans will look pretty good with my wardrobe.
EDIT: Seemingly with the goal in mind of totally confirming everything I wrote here about their ongoing renaissance, the brewery released art for yet another new beer today, “Circus Penguin.” It’s a pale ale with “organic beets and blood oranges.” True facts!