Just a few years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a variety of craft beers on store shelves, in restaurants or bars in Southern Illinois. And, you certainly would not have run across any local beers, anywhere. How times have changed. Not only are beer retailers adjusting and expanding at a seemingly exponential pace to accommodate more interesting and exotic ales, area restaurants and bars are also getting crafty by adding dedicated beer menus and hosting beer dinners and other special events.

Southern Illinois natives Chris Lamport and Kyle Fager saw an opportunity to take this concept a step further and open a business dedicated to the best of what the region has to offer in terms of local beer, wine and spirits. Brews Brothers Taproom boasts a dozen beers on tap, a large selection of wine and authentic moonshine cocktails — all produced within 70 miles of Murphysboro and most within 15 miles of the taproom on Chestnut Street.

“It just makes sense with all the excellent breweries around now, we felt like there needed to be a centralized location where these local products could be showcased,” explained Lamport, an engineer by trade.

And showcase them, they do. Brews Brothers unique and inviting atmosphere — complete with rustic barnwood accents, high ceilings and rough-hewn floors in a building that is more than 100 years old — is perfect for emphasizing locallyproduced, artisan libations with a very indigenous, yet elegant feel. The fact that co-owner Kyle Fager is also the owner of K. Fager Contracting and Fager Properties doesn’t hurt. Fager remodeled the building space, which sits off Cummare’s Italian Ristorante and south of the Jackson County Courthouse, is proud to fill a void in the region.

“Our new-found fascination with craft beer and the lack of a place like this in the area” was the motivation for opening the taproom, says Fager.

Look on the easternmost wall of the taproom, and you can’t miss a massive hand-painted mural of Murphysboro’s pioneering brewery the Rudolph Stecher Brewing Co. in action during its heyday around the turn of the 20th century. On the opposite wall, a map shows all the local and regional breweries, distilleries and wineries featured in the Brews Brothers Taproom. Beers from the likes of Murphysboro’s first production brewery since Prohibition, Big Muddy Brewing, Ava’s Scratch Brewing Co., and beer and craft root beer from Crown Valley Brewing in nearby Ste. Genevieve, Mo. Carbondale’s Grand River Spirits is also featured prominently, with a cocktail menu designed specifically for Brews Brothers and this true corn-mash moonshine.

“We’re not just another bar,” Lamport said. “We offer a unique atmosphere in a unique location with unique selections. Our establishment is community friendly, and we are intent on helping to grow the area.”

Judging by the craft beer, wine and spirits explosion in the region over

the past several years, Brews Brothers Taproom is certainly poised to become a hub for all things local and tasty in the region. Visit Brews Brothers Taproom online or give them a call for more information, but make it a point to stop by and enjoy a local libation in a terrific setting that pays equal homage to tradition and innovation. Cheers!

SHAWN CONNELLY writes for Beer Connoisseur magazine and is a craft and specialty beer retail consultant and an award-winning home brewer. Read his blog at beerphilosopher.com.

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