A Forest Park brew pub set to open next month will host an open house this Saturday, March 7, where attendees can taste $2 four-ounce beer samples, join a mug club for $30 and enjoy free koozies and snacks.
Katherine and Chris Valleau, owners of Exit Strategy Brewing Company, will host the event from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at its location, 7700 Madison St., just east of Famous Liquors.
“We feel good, tired, and anxious in a good way to get our doors open,” said Chris, a former insurance lawyer. “After two years of planning and nine months of construction, we’re at that point in the marathon where you can see the finish line. We’re both proud of what we’ve done but know we got a ways to go.”
Katherine said the community has been nothing but supportive about Exit Strategy’s arrival into Forest Park, and she’s thrilled that the open house will be on the same day as the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“We’ve been publishing the heck out of it. I want to get our doors open and let everyone see what we’ve been up to,” said Katherine, a former teacher for Forest Park School District 91.
Katherine and Chris, who have been married for 15 years, both walked away from their full-time jobs to put their dedication, money, heart and soul into Exit Strategy.
They taught themselves how to brew the beer, which involves fermenting grains — barley and wheat mostly — then adding hops to take away the sweetness.
“Between being business partners and being life partners, we feel pretty balanced,” Katherine said. “We know how to be a unit and we talk about everything.”
The beer is made in the brew house, which is located in the back of the brewery and contains brew house tanks, fermenters and brite tanks.
Glycol piping, which will keep the drink and food products at a cool temperature, will soon be installed at the brewery before its opening day.
“We can’t operate the brewery without it,” Chris said.
A Mosaic-designed wall and vintage furniture from the 1950s and ’60s can be found toward the front of the brewery. Art designs of Exit Strategy’s eight beers hang on the wall, each with a unique background story.
Katherine, who taught Greek mythology at D91, named the pomegranate wheat beer Persephone after a Greek goddess. Artwork at the brewery for Persephone shows the goddess biting into a pomegranate, along with the words, “Everyone wants a taste of her.”
“It’s smooth and tangy from the fruit,” Katherine said of Persephone, which won first place in the 2013 Illinois Brewers of South Suburbia competition. “It’s one of the showstoppers and represents the broad spectrum of the portfolio.”
Persephone is the first beer the Valleaus made from scratch.
Exit Strategy will start off with only four beer choices on the menu after opening and will later add more selections. They said the goal is to have eight beers year-round and another five that rotate seasonally. Food will also be served at the brewery and all food and drink products will be made in house.
“It’s going to be contained to our own products. We’re going to have our own soda and condiments — an all-on-site production of everything,” Katherine said.
For more information on the open house event, visit Exit Strategy’s Facebook page at Exit Strategy Brewing Company.