Owner Eric Schmidt started to forge his appreciation of beer while managing a college bar. It was his first time stepping outside of the traditional “macro brew” world in order to learn more about different styles and how beers were marketed and arrived at the bars he worked at.
From here, Eric began home-brewing as a hobby. The first batch, an attempt at replicating a popular cranberry lambic, was an epic fail. But as he gained experience in brewing, he gained more of an appreciate of craft beer. And when his friend, Chris, bought Brixie’s in Brookfield and turned it into a craft beer bar, Eric ramped up his interest, knowledge, and excitement in the business of craft beer.
At this time, though, craft beer was a hobby since Eric was working in the not-for-profit and journalism sectors. But opening a “bar” was always something that interested Eric and his wife, Carrie. A 2016 move to the southwest suburbs was the spark that the couple needed to seriously look into the concept that became Orange & Brew. For a beer geek like Eric, there simply wasn’t a convenient spot to try new draft beers as well as have an amazing selection of fresh beer to take home. All of the great options for this were a twenty minute drive away, sometimes more with Chicago traffic!
In the winter of 2016, Eric and Carrie began the research into opening a small business. Since they didn’t have a full amount of time to devote to the project, it was slow to ramp up. But in the fall of 2017, with a business plan in hand, they sought out a spot that would be a draw for not only beer geeks looking for a convenient spot to purchase fresh beer, but also local residents to have a fun place to relax and learn more about craft beers. And in the spring of 2018, we found just that spot…on Burlington Avenue in Downers Grove!
While here, you’re able to sip a beer in a comfortable and welcoming setting, bring your own food or order in (we have a few food options from local restaurants, as well), and take something home with you.
Eric and Carrie hope you’ll be just as enthused to come in as we are to be a part of this community…both the Downers Grove one, and the beer one!
What’s in a Name?
A big question we get…why Orange & Brew? We both went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…but in truth, we spent a lot of time searching for the perfect name. We wanted a unique business name that reflected “us”, also conveyed craft beer, and was meaningful to us & our kids. Champaign was our first home away from home and the first place where we started to make a name for ourselves in the world. We both love the campus and made many lifelong friends there…and then we started dating our Senior year and the rest is history (for us, at least!). It’s still a special place to visit (despite the Illini’s lack of recent success) and as most Illini alums do, we joke that we have Orange and Blue running through our veins.
So while the name is U of I based, don’t worry that this is only an Illini shop. While you’ll be more likely to catch an Illini game on the TVs than Ohio State or Michigan, we’ll honor the entire Big Ten in the store and through some fun events. But Orange and Brew is an homage to where we came from and started together in life, and what we’re still proud to be a part of today.
So our doors are open to everyone (unless you went to OSU…that one’s still debatable 😊) and if you happen to be a U of I alum or fan, feel free to give us a hearty “I-L-L!” when you walk in and we’ll respond back appropriately!