The Two Brothers Story
The Concise Story
Two Brothers Brewing Company was founded by Jim and Jason Ebel in late 1996. The business was envisioned by the brothers based on their entry into entrepreneurship with The Brewer’s Coop, a retail store catering to home beer and wine making. In 1993 The Brewer’s Coop opened its doors in Naperville, IL selling retail ingredients and equipment for the homebrewing community. The more they were surrounded by brewing, the more passionate they became about opening their own microbrewery. In early 1996 they decided to take the plunge and start writing a business plan. Several months later their dream became reality. Two Brothers Brewing Company is still 100% family owned.
The Long Version
Brothers Jim and Jason Ebel had spent time as ex-pats in Europe and learned the diversity and culture of European beers. Upon returning their options in flavor oriented craft beers was virtually non-existent, so Jim began homebrewing to replicate the beer styles he had come to love. He shared some of his brews with Jason and they decided to brew a batch together. This was the catalyst for Jason to start in on the hobby. In 1992 the brothers opened a home beer and wine making store called The Brewer’s Coop in Naperville. In the coming years, much of their time together, Jim and Jason did little except talk of beer and brewing.
During this time, Jim was accepted to DePaul University’s College of Law and Jason moved to Colorado to start his professional brewing career in Denver. Jim continued to run The Brewer's Coop with the help of his wife and his mother. As The Brewer's Coop got busier, Jason moved back to Chicago to help at the store and began brewing at a local pub.
It didn’t take long for them to begin dreaming of running their own brewery. After a while, the constant talk of having a brewery started to get on their families nerves. One night as the extended family got together for Sunday dinner and the talk inevitably began about beer, their mother said "you guys either need to open a brewery or shut-up about it ‘cause your driving me crazy". The brothers could only assume that was the family blessing and so the planning started for Two Brothers Brewing Company. Initially the thought was to open a Pub, but with little financing and no knowledge of restaurant management, they quickly decided on a production facility.
As planning began, Jason went for his degree in brewing at the Siebel Institute of Technology. The planning proceeded, Jim graduated from Law School and Jason received his diploma in Brewing and Fermentation Sciences. Jim’s knowledge of the Law and running a business, coupled with Jason’s expertise in brewing they finalized the business plan in early 1996. Armed with desire, determination and the plan, they set-out to find financing. After months of bank interviews and hounding every family member they could think of, they had the modest budget they need to begin their adventure.
The original brewery was designed around the brewhouse, a 15 barrel system produced in Vancouver and designed by Jason based on the traditional 3-vessel brewhouse’s of Germany. Jim and Jason were both passionate about Hefeweizen style beers, and the brewery’s design was intended to aid in the brewing of this world class beer. The rest of the brewery equipment was mostly donated! The Ebel brother’s grandfather, a retired dairy farmer, donated his bulk milk tanks, which were quickly converted to fermenters. The aging tanks were dairy cream tanks. Two Brothers Brewing Company began as a draft only brewery, there was no bottling line.
In 1998 Two Brothers secured an 8-head bottling line which had a capacity of about 16 bottles per minute. Due to increased sales and demand, Two Brothers replaced their 8 head bottle filler in 2003, with a state of the art 20 head machine that has a capacity of 150 bottles per minute. In November of 2007 Two Brothers moved into a new 40,000 square foot facility. When they moved, they took the opportunity to install a new 50 barrel brewing system and added 3000 barrels of fermentation space. By April of 2008, they had reached capacity in the new brewer and went through another expansion. The brothers added another 6000 barrels of fermentation capacity. By October of 2008 they had already commissioned another 8000 barrels of fermentation capacity and finished that expansion in December of 2008. We continue to expand to meet market demand including the largest expansion so far in 2011 and another large plan for 2012.
Two Brothers Brewing Company is proud of the fact that through 15 years and a number of expansion projects, it is still 100% family own. Two Brothers’ “Whole family of great beers”, are currently available in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Minnesota.