Turning a 100-year-old bakery building into a craft brewery is no easy feat, but the aptly named Old Bakery Beer Company is giving it a shot. As they prepare to open this week, owners James Rogalsky and Lauren Pattan are excited about bringing new life to the former Colonial Bakery in Downtown Alton.

Though both Rogalsky and Pattan grew up in the Alton area, they developed their brewing skills at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. — Rogalsky, an American Brewers Guild graduate, was an assistant brewer and Pattan was the brewery's taste room operations and sustainability manager. The husband-and-wife team's shared expertise comes together in the historic bakery building at 400 Landmarks Boulevard.

“The building sets up perfectly for a brewery,” Pattan says. “We are really excited to get to bring new life to a building that sat vacant and underused for so long.”

Preserving the integrity of 18,000 square feet of space is a mighty task, but one Rogalsky and Pattan saw as an important component of the brewery. In addition, they ensured that all decisions made while renovating the brewery considered environmental sustainability, from the types of malt and hops used for all beers (American and organic), to the fixtures and appliances carefully chosen to limit energy and water use. All tabletops and the unique multi-colored bar facade used reclaimed wood courtesy of Mwanzi.

“We know that it is really important for the future of the planet that people start considering their impact now, and we will make sure that we remember that with every decision we make,” says Pattan.

The six beers Old Bakery Beer Co. will offer on opening day set the stage for what's to come. Pattan and Rogalsky are particularly excited about the Magnum Single Hop Pale Ale. The magnum hop is typically only used for bittering, but at Old Bakery, it will be employed in many capacities, including dry-hopping, aroma and flavor. In addition, the brewery's Dark Mild, described as "roasty, smooth and creamy" will be served on nitro to provide an easy-drinking session beer.

Old Bakery would like to offer up to 14 of its beers on draft at any given time, as well as room for guest taps, Pattan says. And while the brewery does offer a full bar (including only wines that are local to the area), its owners prefer to keep drink orders simple, and offer a small cocktail menu to reflect that. Try the "deep, dark, something" — porter mixed with ginger liqueur, vanilla liqueur, and Buffalo Trace bourbon.

A locally-sourced food menu is another way the couple is keeping the environment in mind. Dishes on offer will be lighter fare — think local cheeses, hummus, a variety of salads, and sandwiches like the tofu banh mi (baguette, cilantro, cucumber, Sriracha mayo, pickled radish, onion, carrot) — and will change with the seasons. Ingredients will be from the farmer's market in Alton and surrounding small farms whenever possible.

In addition to the main tasting and dining room, which holds about 190 seats, the building houses an event space for another 120 seats, more with standing room. They plan to offer plenty of live music, and have a grand opening party planned for March 14, or Pi day.

But what Rogalsky and Pattan aspire to offer is not only a welcoming environment to those traveling the Great River Road, but carefully crafted, “modern, clean, crisp, bold American ales and lagers” that will bring Downtown Alton alive with people. With the potential to brew up to 10,000 barrels per year, Rogalsky has big plans as head brewer.

“We're hoping that by bringing a thriving industry to Alton, we can help revitalize a part of town that has lots of potential,” Pattan says. “Our hope is to bring some attention to that part of town and more importantly, foot traffic. If we do well, hopefully that success can spread up and down Broadway.”

Old Bakery Beer Company will be open from 11am to 11pm Wednesday and Thursday, 11am to 1am Friday and Saturday, and 11am to 11pm Sundays. For now, they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 

The Old Bakery Beer Company, 400 Landmarks Blvd., Alton, Illinois, oldbakerybeer.com


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