Episode 009 carries forward the critical decision making from Episode 008 into the biggest of pictures about your business, digging into the food component (kitchen) as a major factor in determining whether you’re planning a tap room (only), a brewpub, or a packaging brewery. With decades of experience individually, our guests together represent a very diverse collection of perspectives on this topic. From the headaches to the financial benefits of a kitchen, and diving into the  situational possibilities for production breweries and tap rooms without food, this discussion covers a ton of useful ground for the start up or expanding brewery.


Matt Potts is the Founder, CEO and General Counsel of DESTIHL®. Matt also served as DESTIHL’s original Brewmaster from 2007 until January 2022 when he passed on the mash paddle. Matt received his Bachelors in Ag Science from the University of Illinois in 1991, his juris doctorate in 1993 from DePaul University College of Law and became a licensed attorney in 1994. While practicing law, he started homebrewing at the end of 1995, and he & his wife, Lyn, eventually opened their first brewpub, Elmwood Brewing Company (‘EBC’), near the law office in 2001.

In 2007, Matt attended Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, securing his Associate in Brewing Technology certificate, and then started up a new brewpub and full-service restaurant concept, DESTIHL Restaurant & Brew Works, in Normal, IL. In 2013, DESTIHL opened its first production brewery in Bloomington, IL, reaching capacity by late 2015. In 2017, DESTIHL Brewery opened its new destination, regional Brewery & Beer Hall facility in Normal, which is now expanding its capacity to over 60,000bbls/year and has a brewhouse capacity of over 150,000bbls/year.

DESTIHL’s award-winning beers are now distributed in almost 40 states, plus Canada and Sweden, including its industry-changing Wild Sour Series, which was one of the first sour beers packaged in cans, its DeadHead® IPAs (including 2021 Gold and Bronze Medal winners in the coveted Juicy/Hazy IPA & Imperial IPA categories) and many other beers. DESTIHL started doing some contract brewing in 2018, but due to so much word-of-mouth growth for these services, it is now launching a new, separate division of its brewery called CANOPOLIS™, which is focused on contract brewing.

Matt served on the Board of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild from 2010-2020 and Chairman of the Guild’s Government Affairs Committee from 2017-2020, which was instrumental in securing many changes to Illinois laws over the years to secure production cap increases, self-distribution & beer transfer rights and many other important rights and protections for the growth of all Illinois breweries.

Chris Black, Co-Founder Falling Rock Tap House

Chris Black is a 40-year veteran of the Craft Beer Wars. From his start working at an early Beer Bar to stints working for Importers, Distributors and Breweries, to his ultimate goal of owning one of the World’s most well-known Beer Bars, The Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, CO for 24 years, Chris has experience in all three tiers and a passion for helping people set up a great experience for their customers. Essential elements include Good Design and Layout, Sound, Lighting, Seating and most importantly, setting up your Draught System properly.

Tom Hennessy, Founder Colorado Boy Brewing

Tom Hennessy has opened seven breweries of his own and helped open over 130 more with his Colorado Boy Brewery Immersion Course. He is  the founder, along with past partners Tom White, Greg Atkin and  Rick Post, of Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Albuquerque, Pranzo in Santa Fe,  and IL Vicino Wood Oven Pizza in New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. His video Frankenbrew, from 1995 has become a cult classic in the brewing world. His three previous brewing books include The Brewery Operations ManualThe Affordable Brewery, and Colorado Boy SOP. Tom lives, brews and writes in his mountain town of Ridgway, Colorado, with his wife Sandy.

About StartABrewery

StartABrewery is a collaboration amongst a fun group of craft beer industry veterans who are often invited to speak at beer business / brewing education programs. Each has offered to share their knowledge and experience to support the craft beer community as a whole by helping fledgling breweries in planning.

Conceived and coordinated by Candace L. Moon, The Craft Beer Attorney, and Laura Lodge of  Customized Craft Beer Programs, StartABrewery is provided as an educational resource for those dreaming of opening a brewery, those who are taking steps to make their dream a reality, and those who are opening their brewery doors and living it.