shoehorn brewing photo by iain shaw

Shoehorn Brewing will open brewery and taproom in Belleville this winter

Shoehorn Brewing will open at 225 E. Main St. in downtown Belleville by early 2023, with homebrew shop Down the Hall Homebrew also moving in and sharing the 3,800-square-foot building with the brewery and taproom. 

Co-owner Mike Johnson is an experienced homebrewer, but Shoehorn Brewing represents his first move into operating a full-time, customer-facing brewery. Johnson is opening the brewery with Jeremy Hall of Down the Hall Homebrew. Down the Hall is already open in the same 1890s-era building as Shoehorn Brewing, having relocated earlier this year from its original location at 122 E. Main St. 

“The first third of the building is the homebrew store, and the back two-thirds are the taproom and brewhouse,” Johnson said. The brewery and taproom will have space for around 70 customers indoors, with a patio expected to seat an additional 50 guests. 

Johnson said that Shoehorn is aiming to stock up to 20 beers on draft. “We’ll see how many we can get filled,” he said. “All of our own stuff, or collaborations, is a long-term goal.” The range of beers should offer something to suit everyone’s tastes, from lagers, IPAs and pale ales to stouts and a variety of sours, including barrel-aged sours and kettle sours. They’ll also be brewing mead cider and hard kombucha. Johnson said no specific details of collaborations are available yet, but he did say Shoehorn is hoping to collaborate with Scott Kurtz of Bluewood Brewing on a mead. 

Shoehorn will cater to non-beer drinkers without offering a full bar, and there will be some pre-packaged snacks, but no kitchen. Johnson said customers are welcome to bring in food from other local restaurants. “We’re in the heart of downtown Main Street in Belleville and there’s plenty of restaurants around to bring from,” he said. “Food trucks may be a possibility but again, since we’re surrounded by restaurants we want to try and help support them.”

The buildout on the project is essentially complete, the sign is up, and Shoehorn’s seven-barrel brewing system is installed and ready to go. The only thing holding Shoehorn Brewing up is the current backlog in Illinois for processing licensing applications. “We’re just waiting for our state licenses to come back so we can start selling,” Johnson said. “We've been able to brew for probably the last two months, we’re just not able to because of the law.” Johnson anticipates that it could be January 2023 before Shoehorn receives the go-ahead to open, though approval could come sooner. “It could be mid-December, it could be as late as January,” he said.

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