About Blue Island Beer Company

20150123_150719Our inspiration comes from a foundation in classic styles. From an understanding of what makes each style great, we are able to diverge from the basics in specialty beers that compliment the style, history and flavors in tasty ways.

We are so excited to be a part of the Historical District of Blue Island, IL., and the growing craft beer scene along Olde Western Ave.  Along with the other establishments in the area, we wish to be a positive member of the local economy, not only conducting our business ethically and responsibility, but also bringing you a darn good beer.

We hope through making a range of styles, we will help forward craft beer appreciation, making Blue Island a craft beer destination. In the greater picture, we hope to also facilitate social and economic progress and contribute to the concerted effort by the City of Blue Island to make this an area truly worthy of its rich history.

About Us


Bryan Shimkos

Bryan grew up in Kansas, attending The University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!), before later moving to Chicago in 1999 to earn his Master’s degree in Microbiology. As opposed to doing research, a little bird put the idea in his head that he could utilize his degree in the brewing industry as a Quality Control tech. The transition from science to brewing proved to be a smooth one, as there are many applications of microbiology in a brewery. From yeast management to keeping aseptically sound, one can never be too careful in handling the beers.

That was all it took and Bryan began his journey into the craft beer industry, meeting some of the best folks around and learning from a lot of great brewers. In the fall of 2005 Bryan attended the diploma course at the Siebel Institute of Technology, which facilitated the transition from a brewery grunt (washing kegs and scrubbing mold) to becoming a full fledged brewer. With almost a decade of professional brewing experience under his belt, he hopes to bring it all together in each glass of Blue Island Beer Co. beer.

He considers it an honor and challenge to have been brewing in an area where the beer drinkers are very knowledgeable and care so deeply about their beer.

Five Questions with our Brewer…

1) What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community? That’s hard to pinpoint. For me, it would be how craft beer brings us and our consumers together to talk about beer and share in their excitement and curiosity, and the great people that are involved in the whole of the craft beer industry.

2) What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
There are a couple of parings that I like. A robust porter paired with a char grilled steak has got to be up there with the best. The complimentary flavors of the roasted malts and the char on the steak make them almost meld together.

A little stranger pairing is a creamy, semi soft cheese paired with a fruit lambic. The acidity of the lambic cuts the creaminess of the cheese almost like they were made for each other.

3) What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Probably coming to Chicago (way out of my comfort zone!) and getting a graduate degree. Microbiology has really opened the door for me now, and keeps me mindful in the brewery.

4) What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce? More of a style, I like a dry, non-fruit gueuze. Drei Fontain, Cantillion, and Olde Beersel make very good ones.

5) What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

Two places come to mind when I think of my favorite beer destinations, but they couldn’t be more polar opposites. Germany produces some of the cleanest lagers and best hefeweizens that few can replicate. Their dedication to consistency and excellence is apparent in each liter. The warmth and “gemütlichkeit” some of the small German brewpubs welcome you with can only be experienced first-hand.

Belgium, on the other hand, takes its beer brewing tradition a whole different direction. The wild fermented beers are not like any others in the world, and the relatively peculiar way they are made is also unique to Belgium. The free thinking mindset is completely contrary to the German strict adherence to protocols.

Together these make one of the most fond memories of a beer destination.

Alan Cromwell

Alan began his foray into craft beer soon after turning 21, and quickly recognized the potential of an industry with such passionate people brewing and consuming an artisan-made product. By learning the production side of brewery events and
representing breweries at tasting events, Alan has developed a rapport with local craft beer drinkers and vendors alike.

Alan also has owned a painting contracting business for 18 years, and brings another strong work ethic and responsibility to the team. Mr. Cromwell has also led marketing, promotional and technical tasks independently and for music groups in which he has been a member.

Drawing from all his experiences, both business and entertainment, will allow Alan to excel at management of BIBC’s distribution accounts, marketing, and promotion of special events.