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After years of planning and an additional year of COVID-19 delays, Double Clutch Brewing Co. is finally aiming to open its doors this month.

The brewpub was originally set to open Memorial Day 2020, but when the stainless steel brewing tanks it ordered got held up in China, construction came to a halt, despite the tanks being assembled back in 2019.

“Everything with labor and materials has been hard to come by, even down to the shipping supplies,” Head Brewer Scott Frank said about the difficulties.

One of Double Clutch’s brewing partners owns the building, so its retail space at 2121 Ashland Ave. was never in jeopardy.

Frank said that while most breweries are focusing on India pale ales, or IPAs, Double Clutch will be zeroing in on German and other European lager styles. These lagers require specialized equipment because they rely more on the malt body rather than hops characteristics.

“We have a unique system that allows us to control the mash, which is the part of the process that converts the starches into sugars so that we can then add yeast and turn it into beer,” Frank said.

Some of the stainless steel tanks at the Double Clutch Brewing Co. (Photo by Alicya Dennison)

Not only is Double Clutch’s system sophisticated in capability, but it also can produce and store more beer on-site than most startup breweries. Its cellar, which holds ready-to-drink beer, contains 11 serving tanks consisting of two 30-barrel (930 gallons) tanks, five 15-barrel (465 gallons) tanks and four that hold 7.5 barrels (232.5 gallons).

“The cars are also going to be a big draw, per the name Double Clutch,” said General Manager Steve Milford. “The partners have some classic cars that they’re very proud of.” 

Classic cars owned by the partners will be on display at the Double Clutch Brewing Co. in Evanston (Photo By Alicya Dennison)

While the goal is to adapt a microbrewery-brewpub hybrid model, which would allow for on-site and carryout sales, wholesale retailing and food offerings, the priority is making sure the brewpub does well first.

“For our business model it made more sense to have a kitchen and make this a pub where people can sit down, have a sandwich and a beer,” Frank said. “Unfortunately, that eliminates our ability to self-distribute, which doesn’t mean we can’t, we would just have to go through a third-party distributor. Therefore, that isn’t our immediate goal.”

Patrons will, however, be able to purchase beer to go. Growlers will be available right away and four-packs will be on hand shortly thereafter.

Head Brewer Scott Frank (left) and General Manager Steve Milford are seen in the brewing area at Double Clutch Brewing Co. (Photo by Alicya Dennison)

The menu, curated by Chef Patrick Wasserman, has yet to be finalized, but Milford said customers can expect fresh, homemade takes on what one might find at a normal pub. He doesn’t anticipate a menu with many dishes, but says they’re working hard to match the vibe to the beer – shareable and sociable.

In an attempt to push their luck, Frank kicked off brewing on Friday the 13th, opting to start with a tougher style, Märzen, due to their hardships, as opposed to something simple like a Kölsch.

“A Märzen is a traditional German Oktoberfest beer,” Frank said. “It’s a little higher in alcohol, a little darker in malt character, and it’s difficult to brew because there’s a lot of malt in it.”

The second beer he brewed was Kölsch, which is a drinkable pale lager with about 4.5% alcohol. He also made an Altbier (5-6.5% ABV), Helles (5% ABV), and has plans to make Hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer, and Rauchbier, a medium-body brewed with smoked malt.

“We brew by that German purity law, because they don’t allow adjuncts, additives and other things. It’s as organic a process as you can have,” Frank said when asked about the European motif.

Some employees take exams as they prepare for the opening of Double Clutch Brewing Co. (Photo by Alicya Dennison)

For those who don’t enjoy the taste of beer, select wine and spirits will be available by the bottle. According to Milford, the brewery is close to a deal with a distillery that wants to produce whiskey under the Double Clutch name, but beer will always be the headliner.

“We’re hoping to open mid-October,” he said. “We still have to pass inspections, so anything could stop that from happening.”

He went on to say that upon opening, the brewery’s ability to operate seven days a week will be contingent on whether it can hire the appropriate amount of staff and support. To inquire about job vacancies, Milford says those interested can still reach out via email at Steve@DoubleClutchBrewing.com.

Alicya Dennison

Alicya Dennison is a feature story writer for the Evanston Roundtable, covering a broad range of topics. She is a native Evanstonian, studied Journalism at DePaul University, and works full-time at an...

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