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Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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April 15, 2024
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Revolutionizing the microbrewery scene one pint at a time

Revolutionizing+the+microbrewery+scene+one+pint+at+a+time

Ever have that feeling when the Knox bubble turns from comforting to suffocating? If so, follow these directions. Take a left from campus, cross the overpass and follow the road until you reach the unmistakable Galesburg drive in movie theater. 

Then, look in its shadow and pull into Knox County Brewing Company, one of my favorite Galesburg businesses. 

This is a place not just for good beer (and all other good things in life, like tacos, bread and coffee!), but also is a place that is utilizing good beer as a means of social good, and changing the way we think about the role of businesses in a community. And did I mention that their beer is really, really good?

If you were to ask Matthew and Sarah Hansen seven years ago that they were going to own a brewery in a small midwestern town, they may have looked at you funny. 

Sarah was busy holding down the fort with the kids while pursuing a degree at University of Austin, while Matthew was working in the faith based non-profit sector. This non-profit work was involved in reimagining churches, and creating a religious space that was capable of legitimately addressing the many major local issues in Austin, Texas. 

After doing this work for more than a decade, Matthew became burnt out and knew that he needed a temporary change of pace in order to continue his work. Family connections to Illinois (Sarah has family in Warren county) drew the Hansen family out of Texas and to Galesburg in 2015. 

While their time in Galesburg was meant to be an impermanent stint, both Sarah and Matthew quickly realized that Galesburg was not just host to the same social issues as Austin (such as major rifts in economic equality), but deeply lacking in the infrastructure to solve them. Matthew and Sarah applied everything they knew about social change and community support, and developed a business model that would support Galesburg and beyond. And if you are going to be an agent of positive change in a community, why not make good beer while you’re at it?

Knox County Brewing Company is part of a wave of new microbreweries that blend mindfully sourced ingredients with social responsibility to make beer that you can sip on with a good conscience. KCBC uses only local hops and grain, which is a bold move in a market that craves the piney hops of the Pacific Northwest. Moreover, they donate a portion of their sales to local nonprofits, like The Orpheum theater, Main Street Codes, Blackthorn Nature Preserve and several others. KCBC also brewed a beer this summer and gave 100% of all profits to Galesburg Community Foundation’s COVID-19 relief fund. 

The seasonal array of beers at KCBC shows a breadth of styles that range from familiar to downright experimental. Among the crowd favorites is the “Happy Chance” Maple Porter, named so due to a brewing accident that began with intentions to create a hearty stout, but after lots of confusing beer math, ended with a sweet and smoky porter. Sarah speaks of KCBC’s Belgian style beers with a sense of pride. The estery, delicate yeasts used in this style of beer are tricky to get just right. Considering that among KCBC’s top sellers are Belgians suggests that they know what they’re doing. A personal favorite of mine is “My Neighbor’s Porter,” which takes a roasty malt bill, utilizes delicate additions of chocolate and cinnamon and is finished in tequila infused oak barrels. For those that are wary of the tequila-oakiness, believe me, it works. 

Underage patrons won’t feel left out either, since KCBC also offers several other goods that are just as appealing. Elderberry kombucha, anyone? Or how about some sourdough bread? Care for some single origin coffee, roasted in house? Okay then, how about tacos topped with citrusy chile crema? I don’t know if there exists anywhere else in Illinois such a mouthwatering spread of homemade provisions all under one roof. 

Sure, maybe KCBC is a little outside of town, and perhaps is physically upstaged by the entropic grandeur of the drive in across the street. But, find a friend, hop in a car or on a bike and treat yourself to an experience that makes you rethink what a business can be. At KCBC, community mindfulness and locally sourced goods coexist in a hoppy harmony. 

Now that’s something worth toasting. 

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