After serving up its award-winning craft beer to customers since late 2019, Pollyanna Brewing Company in St. Charles is getting ready to give its customers a new taste.
At 3 p.m. Thursday, Pollyanna, located at 106 S. Riverside Ave. in downtown St. Charles, will launch a line of spirits and cocktails. Plans to build a distillery had been underway even before the brewery opened in November 2019. Pollyanna also has locations in Lemont and Roselle.
Pollyanna co-founder, president and CEO Ryan Weidner personally tasted the first batch of spirits from the distillery.
“It was really good,” he said. “The brewers and distillers kind of knew what they had in mind, so I think it turned out as they thought. The gin, which has a lot of botanicals and a lot more to it than some of the other liquors, turned out fantastic. It made it a little more fruity and citrusy.”
Pollyanna’s St. Charles location is the first one to have a distillery.
“This is a new voyage for us into spirits,” Weidner said. “There’s only a few breweries in Illinois that are both brewing and distilling.”
Pollyanna in St. Charles will launch such spirits as Pollyanna Vodka, Pollyanna Silver Rum, Pollyanna American Gin and Pollyanna White Dog Whiskey. A variety of cocktails will also be for sale.
“We have beer cocktails where we take our beer and our spirit and make a cocktail out of it,” he said. “So for instance, we have an IPA mixed with a gin, some lemon and simple syrup. That would be one example of what we’re doing with beer cocktails. We have several of those on the menu. We have maybe a half-dozen or dozen signature cocktails and then we have a make-your-own Mule cocktail program. We partnered with Windmill Ginger Brew in Geneva.”
Pollyanna is also collaborating with Black Dog Distillery in Plainfield, to make its in-house Bloody Mary mix. In addition, Pollyanna will be working with Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. in DeKalb, which will provide the business with bourbon and rye whiskey.
“We’ll be able to supplement the lack of having barrel-aged spirits, which takes time, by having a cool partnership,” Weidner said. ‘We’ve worked closely with Whiskey Acres for several years. They are good friends of ours. They are great partners.”
Weidner noted that demand for craft spirits continues to increase.
“I kind of equate it to what craft beer was doing in maybe the early 2000s,” he said. “For us, it’s the ability to continue to serve our customer base, find additional customers to connect to and then to diversify the business for us into the future.”
More information about Pollyanna Brewing Company is available on its website at pollyannabrewing.com.