THAWVILLE — A rural Thawville couple plan to soon begin construction of a brewery on their farm, which they hope will eventually become a destination for ag-tourism.
Morris and Linda Tammen said the proposed brewery — Artesia Ciderworks + Mead — would produce mead, hard cider and beer that would be available for onsite consumption and also be distributed to area restaurants and pubs.
“We will have indoor and outdoor seating so that people can come with their families, have a picnic outside by the orchard, and drink a nice glass of mead, hard cider or beer as they watch the sunset,” Linda Tammen said.
The Iroquois County Zoning Board of Appeals recently voted 4-0 to approve a conditional-use permit to allow the Tammens to operate the proposed retail business on their agriculturally zoned farm at 1200 North and 300 East roads in Ridgeland Township.
The Tammens plan to construct the brewery in a building where their children had their wedding receptions. Construction is expected to get under way in mid-October, with production starting in 2020, they said.
The Tammens said they have already planted fruit trees and a variety of berry bushes on their farm to produce some of the ingredients to be used in their products.
“We will be planting 80 more apple trees next spring, which will bring the total number up to over 200,” Linda Tammen said.
Meanwhile, the Tammens’ son, Evan, and his wife, Angela, are constructing grape arbors on the farm and are selecting varieties for spring planting.
The Tammens also have tripled the number of beehives on the farm, while they also have established some hives in the restored prairie surrounding Landlocked Hops — Ross Sorensen’s and Nick Reutter’s hops-growing business outside of Loda.
“We are especially excited about that location (by Landlocked Hops) because hops serve as a natural pesticide for varoa mites, and their hops plants are surrounded by wildflowers,” Linda Tammen said. “The bees located there seem to be our happiest bees.”
The recipes for many of the Tammens’ future products have “already been perfected” by their son-in-law, Ryan Reber, and their son, who are both “excellent brewers,” Linda Tammen said.
“Evan has focused more on beer recipes as Ryan continues to refine his meads, hard ciders (and) cysers using a various fruit combinations and different forms of yeast,” Linda Tammen said.
In addition to developing some of the products, Reber is helping design the brewery, she added.
“The fact that Ryan is a talented licensed architect has been a tremendous asset to this entire project,” Linda Tammen said. “The plans he has put together for the brewery construction are incredible.”
Reber has also designed the brewery’s logo, which is featured on T-shirts being sold by the Tammens’ daughter Katrina. Katrina Reber is managing the liquor licensing application process, as well.
Indeed, the business is a family affair, with the Tammens’ children and grandchildren all pitching in.
“Our daughter Alison (Lirette) and her husband, Scott, live in Michigan, but they and their children have been making frequent trips home to help in the orchard,” Linda Tammen said. “Besides planting apple trees, all of the children and grandchildren have helped plant a variety of gooseberries, elderberries, currents, strawberries, and raspberries.”
All of the products will feature “locally sourced ingredients — local apples, local fruits, local honey, local hops,” Linda Tammen said, adding that the brewing of beer will be done using spring water from the farm’s Artesian wells, “which gives the beer a uniquely delicious taste.”
Linda Tammen said they plan to initially self-distribute their products to “a few local restaurants and brew pubs.”
She said they have already spoken with Ben Grice about having their “official product launch” at The Harvest Ale House, a pub Grice operates in downtown Paxton. Tom Sheehan, from 25 O’Clock Brewery in Urbana, “is also interested in serving some of our items once we begin production,” she said.
At some point later, the Tammens plan to open a tasting room at their farm.
Linda Tammen said they decided to start the brewery to keep their children and grandchildren interested in the farm.
“Morris and I are getting to the age where we are thinking more about the future of our farm,” she said. “We very much want our grandchildren to grow up loving the farm as much as we do, because some day they will be called upon to be stewards of this land. We spoke with all three of our children about possible farm-based projects that would involve the entire family and found a lot of interest in a construction of a brewery.”