Step inside DeKalb County’s breweries, wineries and distilleries.
DeKalb County may not be the first place you think of when seeking craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, but this predominantly rural area contains a surprising assortment of craft producers. True to their Midwestern roots, these masters are not only taking advantage of the area’s rich farmland, but supporting their neighbors in business. With four craft producers around the county, there’s no need to travel far to enjoy handcrafted excellence.
Prairie State Winery
222 W. Main St., Genoa
Owners Rick and Maria Mamoser are on a mission to make wine using only Illinois-grown grapes. Since 1999, Prairie State Winery has produced fine products with the philosophy of “being good stewards of the land, the grape, the community and the consumer.”
A top pick is the Cabernet Franc, a dry red wine that won gold in the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
“We want the world to know that great wine can come from the Midwest,” Rick says. “You don’t need to live in California to produce a nice dry red – you can find the ideal growing conditions right here.”
Cademon Brewing Co.
217 W. Main St., Genoa
In 2009, Andrew “Cad” Nordman started making craft beer as a hobby. When more and more people asked where they could purchase his creations, Nordman decided to open his own brewery. Cademon, opened in December 2014, produces its own craft beers and sodas.
Nordman strives to support his neighbors by using high-quality local ingredients when available. A must-try brew on the menu is Evil Pumpkin Patch, an ale that uses real pumpkins – not simply pumpkin spices.
“When someone says they don’t like beer, I consider that as a challenge,” Nordman says. “My goal is to find the right style and flavor for every customer.”
Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.
11504 Keslinger Road, DeKalb
In 2013, Jim and Jaime Walter, along with business partner Nick Nagele, created something never before seen in Illinois: a distillery that makes spirits entirely from grain grown on-site. The Whiskey Acres tasting room and cocktail patio officially opened to the public last summer.
The un-aged corn whiskey is a top choice, with an initial sweet flavor and a smooth grain flavor to finish. It has won many awards, including bronze at the American Distilling Institute Competition.
“We control everything from seed to spirit,” Nagele says. “We’re very excited for the release of our bourbon and rye whiskeys in the summer of 2016.”
The Forge Brewhouse
1330 E. State St., Sycamore
JD and Lisa Heinrich opened their brewhouse for business on June 1, 2015, with a vision of serving pizza, pretzels, sliders and other foods that fittingly complement a wide beer selection.
The Forge’s DuBelle brew, a Belgian beer, is a top pick because of its appealing combination of orange peel, coriander and pepper ingredients.
As strong supporters of local businesses, the husband-and-wife duo are constantly on the lookout for local producers that can supply ingredients.
“We believe that there’s an element of community derived from doing business locally,” JD says. “DeKalb County has great farmland, so we try to find the freshest local ingredients we can acquire.”