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definition of republic

a group of people with common interests, aims, and pursuits working for the betterment of all.

we are "the republic of beer"

Meet the Brewmaster

Ken the Brew Master

Ken McMullen

My crazy passion for beer started when I was a kid. I found a beer on my paper route and, of course, opened it and tasted it. It was terrible – warm, stale, oxidized. I guess the thrill of having something that was forbidden hooked me. Just a few short years later, my brother, Scott, went to the University of Illinois and I went to visit him for a weekend. He is four years older, so we were both freshmen, he was in college, and I was in high school. The parties and the bars were overwhelming – I was 14 and had just ordered a pitcher of beer in a college bar!

Fast forward a bunch of years and my brother was living in southern California, Temecula, to be precise. We visited a microbrewery in a light industrial park called Blind Pig Brewing Co. It must have been 1994, which is when Blind Pig opened. Scott had already introduced me to Samuel Adams and Pete’s Wicked Ale, but Blind Pig was different. I recall going on a Saturday around 11 am and pouring myself a draft at the front of the office area and hanging out around the parking lot with a few other people enjoying an awesome brew. That was when I decided that a career in beer was my future.

Also, in 1994, I got married and bought my first brew kit from The Brewers Coop in Naperville (which evolved into Two Brothers Brewing Company). Thanks to Charlie Papazian and his Joy of Homebrewing book, I started brewing extract brews. I quickly stepped up to all-grain with my homemade Zappap lauter tun (aka 2 plastic buckets). I joined the Urban Knaves of Grain homebrew club to learn more. After brewing excellent beer, creating fun labels, and brewing more beer than I could drink, I decided to write a business plan for a brewery.

I took a job as a server at Taylor Brewing Company in Naperville to educate myself about the brewpub business and bent the ear of their brewer after my shift. I shared the plan with my brother in California. He used it to create Temecula Brewing Company in 1999, so I sold my house in Illinois and moved my young family to Southern California to help open it as the Brewer/Director of Ops. I was there until 2002 when I moved back to Illinois. Limestone Brewing Company was my next stop as a Brewmaster from 2009-2012. After a move to Aurora, that became Hopvine Brewing Company, where I spent 10 years as the Brewmaster, 2013-2023.

I consulted with GunCraft Beer, creating their recipes and overseeing contract production from 2016-2019. The Firkery was a popup Real Ale event business I ran with Kevin Herbst for a few years. While at Limestone, I helped create the Plainfield Ale & Lager Enthusiasts homebrew club, which is still thriving, and I am still on the Board of Directors. Something I am most proud of is my teaching position with the Business of Craft Beer program at the College of DuPage, which I have taught for the last two years.

I am proud of my career in beer. I managed to raise a family while brewing (thanks, greatly, to my wife, Julie). And this next phase is poised to be the most exciting as I am Managing and guiding the beer program for Fox Republic Brewing. I cannot wait to bring delicious brews to Yorkville and see more relationships grow out of beer!

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