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Smylie Brothers Brewery To Open Beer Garden With Food Trucks At Bowmanville Plant

The "chill hangout" will offer neighbors a place to grab beers and a bite to eat, "and the kids can run around," the brewery's owner said.

Smylie Brothers Brewing Company's production brewery at 5435 N. Wolcott Ave.
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BOWMANVILLE — Smylie Brothers Brewing Company got City Council approval to build a seasonal beer garden at its Bowmanville production plant, with hopes to open as soon as this year.

Smylie Brothers has been making beer at its 5435 N. Wolcott Ave. production facility since 2017 to serve its two brewpubs, owner Mike Smylie said. In addition to brewing beer, the Wolcott location sells beer to-go on weekdays. 

“Since we opened there, we’ve been trying to figure out how to get a patio in there. Five years went by in a hurry, and we actually just re-signed the lease for another five years,” Smylie said.

The brewery secured a needed zoning change to build the beer garden after getting support for its plan from Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) and the city’s Plan Commission this month. 

The beer garden would be built on the property’s open yard to the east and south of the existing brewery, according to the proposal.  

The inside of the brewery would be renovated, but no changes will be made to the outside of the building, according to the proposal. 

Planned landscaping includes adding decorative crushed gravel paths, sun shades and picnic tables with umbrellas. The existing parking lot would be redesigned so food trucks could park next to the beer garden, Smylie said.

“And we’ll have some room for lawn games like bags,” Smylie said. “It’s going to be a pretty chill hangout area outdoors. You can come by, grab some beers, grab a bite to eat and the kids can run around.”

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Rendering of Smylie Brothers Brewing Company proposed beer garden at 5435 N. Wolcott Ave.

The area immediately around the Wolcott plant is mostly industrial, but it’s a short walk from residential streets and other breweries based in Bowmanville, including Half Acre and Spiteful Brewing.

Vasquez said he supported Smylie Brothers’ proposal because it will add a community gathering spot along an otherwise sleepy block of mostly light manufacturing businesses, he said. 

Besides the zoning change, the brewery needs to secure final approvals and city permits for construction and to serve beer at the Wolcott property, Smylie said.

“I definitely want to open by next spring. But if we can get it open at any point before the weather changes this year, that would be great,” Smylie said. “But if we can get final approvals for everything this year, we might just open with the bare bones set up out there until winter. Then pick things back up in the spring to really spruce up the place.”

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Michael Smylie, owner of Smylie Brothers Brewing Company.

Smylie got into craft beers while attending Colorado State University in the 1990s. He started brewing his own beers at home after graduating, he said.

Smylie has four brothers and landed on the brewery’s name after he pitched them the idea of opening their own business, he said. 

The brothers opened their first brewpub in downtown Evanston in 2014 and their second in Lakeview last year.

Smylie said he plans to feature beer from the other two brewpubs at the Wolcott beer garden alongside a rotating list of seasonal beers.

“It’ll be a rotating lineup, but you’ll always see our our mainstays, like our Helles Lager and Wolcott IPA,” Smylie said. “But we have the ability to pull product from either pub. We’ll also be doing special tappings since we have our barrel program at that site.”

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