New Lockport restaurant serves ‘farm to foam’ beer

Menu features family favorites with imaginative twists

Tangled Roots Brewing Company plans to open its newest craft brewery and pub this Thursday in Lockport.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Tuesday at the new restaurant, The Lock & Mule, located at 1025 S. State St.

What makes The Lock & Mule different from the thousands of other craft breweries in the U.S. is its concept of “farm to foam,” according to Matt Scholes, spokesman for CL Enterprises Group, an Illinois-based family investment company. Tangled Roots Brewing Company is part of that group.

Scholes said Tangled Woods grows the barley and hops that’s used in their beer on farms just outside Ottawa, which he feels shows how invested the company is in their products.

“It’s very hard to grow hops,” Scholes said. “Most breweries will buy their hops from the marketplace, so they end up with a mixture of ingredients from all over America. But we’re able to make beer that’s 100 percent local. That’s gotten a lot of attention and interest from the craft beer community. "

Scholes said CL Enterprises Group’s tagline is “small towns, big ideas.” This means the group likes to invest in small towns with interesting pasts that can be incorporated into the theme of each local restaurant, Scholes said.

In the case of The Lock & Mule, elements of the I&M Canal are emphasized, Scholes said. Some of the interior features include open bow-trusses , a working brewery on display to the restaurant, an elegant private dining room for parties and meetings and a large, elevated patio at the rear of the building, according to a news release from the group.

Scholes said The Lock & Mule is opening “softly and safely” and in compliance with all the guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Well, obviously in a perfect world, we’d be opening at a time when we could pack the place and be full steam ahead,” Scholes said. “But we’re opening softly and safely and in compliance with guidelines.”

Scholes said the front of the building opens to the street and the back room opens to the patio.

“That allows us to operate around 50 to 60 percent capacity in compliance with the guidelines,” Scholes said.

Scholes said The Lock & Mule has been getting plenty of comments on social media, so he feels people will be happy to sit on the patio just to try out the new brewery, even if it is cold outside. Scholes said the beer is “down-to-earth” and welcoming to everybody.”

“We serve about 15 to 20 beers on tap at a time,” Scholes said.

Customers can also buy The Lock & Mule’s beer in the retail section of the pub to take home with them, Scholes said.

“You won’t go home thirsty,” Scholes said.

The food is created to pair well with certain brews, he said.

“It’s not the usual brew pub food,” Scholes said. “We have chefs in our restaurants who create menus which are ranging from very high end experimental cuisine to family favorites, even though our family favorites are done with chef imagination or a chef twist.”

For instance, wings may be lager brined and dry rubbed. The restaurant has a big wood fired grill, so recipes are tailored to that for a “where fire meets ice” type of dining experience, Scholes said.

“The ice is the beer, and the fire is the grill,” Scholes said.

Tangled Roots opened its flagship restaurant, The Lone Buffalo in Ottawa, in 2016. Construction and planning for the Lockport venue took about a year, Scholes said.

For more information, visit tangledrootsbrewingco.com/the-lock-and-mule, call 815-526-0825 or visit Lock & Mule by Tangled Roots Brewing Co. on Facebook.

Denise M. Baran-Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland is the features editor for The Herald-News in Joliet. She covers a variety of human interest stories. She also writes the long-time weekly tribute feature “An Extraordinary Life about local people who have died. She studied journalism at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, now the University of St. Francis.