WOODRIDGE, IL – After a tornado damaged Skeleton Key Brewery in Woodridge on Sunday, regular customers and members of the local brewing community came together to donate their space, time and funds to help the beloved brewery. In the days immediately following the tornado, local brewers and bar and taproom owners purchased the remaining Skeleton Key Brewery beer, stored their raw materials, scheduled fundraisers, shared their facilities, and donated food. , hugs and moral support.
Emily Slayton, co-owner of Skeleton Key Brewery with her husband Paul and brother John Szopa told Patch it was hard to say “how grateful we are for the support we have received” since their world was upset by The Sunday tornado.
A “destroyed dream”
The five-year-old brewery had just expanded its tasting room to add a lounge and event space. The 2,500-square-foot living room debuted less than three months before Sunday’s EF-3 tornado. “We were doing great,” Slayton said. “We had doubled our workforce. Everything came and went.
Slayton’s voice quivered as she told Patch about the moment she learned that Skeleton Key Brewery had been hit. She had listened to the police scanner until 3 a.m. Monday and heard a report of “serious structural damage at 8102 Lemont Rd., Skeleton Key Brewery”.
“I still can’t say it without being hushed up,” Slayton said.
Slayton’s brother John arrived at the brewery first after firefighters let him pass barricades that had been put up due to downed power lines, gas leaks, fire and other damage near. The walls were “actively collapsing” as firefighters escorted John through as much of the brewery as possible, Slayton told Patch.
She said John started to “shake so hard” that firefighters escorted him. When Slayton and her husband arrived at the scene, John burst into tears.
“It’s gone man, it’s gone, it’s all gone,” he told them.
Unable to sleep, Slayton returned to the brewery on Monday to find her “dream just destroyed”. The tornado had demolished the space, ripping off the roof, shattering the glass and collapsing the walls of the entire brewery.
Doors had been blown out, water, debris and loose wires were everywhere, the walls of neighboring businesses had blown in their living rooms.
It “looked like a box that had been picked up and shaken,” Slayton told Patch.
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“Such a favorable industry”
The day before the tornado, Skeleton Key Brewery had canned 250 cases of beer. They had raw materials ready to start brewing on Monday, Slayton told Patch.
The tornado cut off electricity to the building, meaning the brewery was forced to dump the beer into its tanks.
Skeleton Key Brewery would have had to sacrifice its remaining beer cans and kegs, as well as its brewing equipment, had it not been for the local breweries to come to the rescue.
Darien’s Miskatonic Brewing Company immediately put the raw materials for Skeleton Key into storage. Since, as Slayton said, yeast is “highly perishable,” local breweries are going to use these brewing materials as well.
Skeleton Key has brewing dates in place at Miskatonic, Werk Force Brewing Co. of Plainfield, and Whiskey Hill Brewing Co. of Westmont.
“Distant bars, bottle shops and breweries everywhere” had called to inquire about buying beer since hearing about the tornado damage from Skeleton Key Brewery.
Tuesday, representatives of restaurants have flocked to buy it.helped move the remaining beer from Skeleton Key Brewery to Miskatonic, where patrons, bars, bars and
“Pretty much every brewery in the area,” said Slayton, including Alter Brewing, Mikerphone Brewing, and Metal Monkey Brewing. Within hours, 250 cases of beer and 50 kegs were sold.
Breweries, bars and restaurants have strived to offer bartending positions to the beloved employees of the Skeleton Brewery. Others organized and planned special events to donate the profits to the brewery. Support has come from Goldfinger Brewing, 2 Fools Cider, Sovereign, Orange and Brew, Wolfden Brewing, First Forest Brewing, Ike and Oak Brewing, Elmhurst Brewing, Liquid Love Brewing, Iron & Glass Taproom and Chuck’s Cafe, to name a few. only a few.
Slayton said it had been “such a humbling experience.”
“We are really lucky to be in such a supportive industry,” she said.
Slayton said Charlotte Converse of Mikerphone Brewing in Elk Grove Village started a GoFundMe to help Skeleton Key Brewery.
On the first day of the fundraiser, Slayton said she and her family were “so upset we couldn’t even look at her.” In just four days, the GoFundMe page raised over $ 122,000 to help with payroll, repairs, and the cost of moving salvageable items.
Slayton said she and her team are determined to be transparent about how they plan to use the funds. “Out of respect for the people who have donated their hard-earned money to help us get back, we want to make sure we know very clearly where that money is going,” Slayton said.
Pick up the pieces
Since Sunday, Emily Slayton, her husband Paul and her brother John have worked tirelessly to “minimize the impact on everyone else related to this”.
They met and comforted the employees, called in customers to help them find alternative venues for their special events, and surveyed their original reception hall to make a list of items that could be salvaged from what is left of their brewery. . The new space is a “complete waste,” Slayton told Patch.
Over the next few days, they will work with their landlord, accountants, contractors and insurance representatives and develop a plan for the immediate future.
Amid their own trauma, Slayton said Skeleton Key Brewery is still looking for ways to help others affected by the tornado.
“Yes [the brewery] hadn’t been so completely destroyed, ”Slayton said, they could have been a“ safe haven ”for those in need.
“We’re trying to find something that we can do for the community as a whole,” Slayton said.
Skeleton Key’s GoFundMe description is a testament to their generous spirit. Charlotte Converse of Mikerphone Brewing wrote: “They have always stepped forward to help others when needed, and now it’s our turn to help when needed.”
How to help Skeleton Key Brewery
Upcoming events benefiting Skeleton Key Brewery include:
Click on the link to donate to GoFundMe for Skeleton Key Brewery.