NORMAL — Destihl's new brewery is active and almost ready for visitors.

The facility in northeast Normal started brewing beer last week, and it will be open to the public starting May 27, the company announced Friday.

The 1200 Greenbriar Drive location will allow Destihl to brew more beer, more varieties of beer and better beer, said founder and CEO Matt Potts, in addition to offering a public beer hall with food and daily tours.

The facility will open 11 a.m. every day and close 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday. Regular tours will run 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Officials plan a 20-minute free tour and a $7, 45-minute tour with samples to run daily, plus bimonthly "brewer's tours" that cost $75 and last two hours, including dinner with a beer pairing. Private tours also will be available.

Potts declined to go into detail about the menu for the beer hall but said it won't replicate the offerings at the 318 S. Towanda Ave. restaurant, which will stay open indefinitely.

The brewery's drink selection also will be smaller than the restaurant's, Potts said, but some will be nonalcoholic.

Destihl also operates a restaurant in Champaign. Both restaurants have small on-site brewing facilities.

The $14 million brewery started construction last June and is almost finished, with most work Friday being done in the beer hall and canning area. The facility also includes a brewing area, bottling system, barrel storage and offices.

The facility increases Destihl's brewing capacity from 15,000 barrels annually to 150,000 with room to expand beyond 200,000, Potts said.

"I can think that big, but we're not there yet," he said during a tour. "We've got a system that will allow us to go well beyond where we are now, with more consistency in our product."

Potts expects beer brewed at the new building to land on shelves this month. He hopes to expand beyond the 19 states Destihl currently serves and offer new varieties, including experimental flavors that can be brewed in small batches just for the beer hall or for a limited local bottling run.

The company has moved all equipment from its previous brewery at 1616 General Electric Road and purchased new equipment, including a custom-built tank system and a much faster canning system.

The facility also is more sustainable, Potts said, with wastewater, grain and yeast recycling on tap. He's worked out an arrangement with local farms, including the Illinois State University Farm in Lexington, to use that material.

The brewery is expected to create 70 new jobs and possibly twice that many within the next decade. Twenty employees at the previous brewery, which will be a warehouse until its lease expires, are transferring to the new location.

Destihl received no local incentives to build the 47,000-square-foot production facility and attached 6,300-square-foot beer hall but got $150,000 in state benefits through the enterprise zone program, Potts said.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh


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