Zero to One, Real Quick: A First Year Retrospective

As the rule goes—perhaps particularly in Chicago—starting a brewery takes a minute. It takes a few of them. Hopewell’s opening was no exception to this pesky reality. From planning to funding to breaking ground to build-out to inspections to, um, more inspections, time draaaags in the lead-up to opening night of a brewery. But on February 4, 2016, Hopewell finally opened its doors—and time has flown ever since.

And now we are one year old!

It’s been a fun first year. It’s also been challenging, exciting and sometimes stressful, but ultimately illuminating. Here’s just a few things we accomplished in our first 12 months:

  • 24 unique beers, not including our small-batch Beer Friends collaborations with friends like Ipsento, Mott St. and The Whistler

  • Grew our staff to eight, not including the wonderful friends and family members who have helped us in a pinch at festivals and on especially busy days in the taproom

  • Won Brewbound’s Startup Brewery Challenge No. 6, which led to an amazing trip to Portland to learn from and collaborate with the great people at Widmer Brothers Brewing

  • Won a FOBAB Bronze Medal in the Brett Beer category

  • Surpassed 200 accounts in the Chicagoland area serving our beer

  • Poured at more festivals than we can remember

All of these things culminated in our first bottle release at our anniversary party just a few weeks ago. Squad, a 10.4% Belgian-style Quad, is our commemoration to our first year and the team (or "squad") that got us here.

And y’all turned out. That party was our best day ever, in fact. It was a jam-packed day, full with food from our friends at Bang Bang Pie, Bop Bar and Pizzeria Serio, special beers collaboratively dreamed up by our staff, DJs and, of course, our first-ever bottle release. But beyond those details, it was the vibe of the day that nicely capped off our first year. We saw a lot of familiar faces—a reminder that we have such a strong community supporting our every move. And that’s really the reason we even started this brewery: to foster a community around beer.

And so to that, we raise a glass (of First Lager) and say, “Thank you.”