Small Town Brewery Dreams Big

At Home in Ottawa

“Building a brewery in a building from the 1870s was complicated,” laughs Scott Struchen, the chief commercial officer and founding partner of Tangled Roots Brewing Co., “but we learned a lot.” Listening to him talk about the story behind Tangled Roots and where it has come so far, I can’t help but feel I’ve stumbled upon something big. “We’re really getting excited to open this up to the public for people to have a craft brew experience.” The experience Mr. Struchen and the other founding partners hope to create extends beyond just craft brewing. The dream behind Tangled Roots is a big one. Talking about the people and the general culture of Ottawa, he says, “We want to embrace them and bring them into our lives and our company so that they will take that feeling with them.”

Since August, 812 LaSalle Street in downtown Ottawa has changed drastically. Before Tangled Roots Brewing Co. purchased the property, the building, dating back to the 1870s, was showing its age. The mural above the second story windows depicting a Native American buffalo run, painted by Roger Cooke, begged for a storefront to do it justice. Not only has Tangled Roots created an elegant entrance to complement the mural, but the name of its restaurant pays something of an homage to the mural and its subject matter.

Visualizing Tangled Roots

The restaurant’s name, “The Lone Buffalo,” was inspired by the mural and the endangered buffalos at Buffalo Rock. For every draft of “BisonWeizen”, a wheat beer on the menu at Tangled Roots, a dollar will be donated to support the park. Tangled Roots will be the first brewery in the history of the United States to have an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources. “It’s like the lone survivor making a comeback,” Struchen explains. “Almost like the story of craft beer, if you think about it. Each town had its own local brewery. And then during prohibition all of that went away. There were 3,000 local breweries in the US between the 1800s and the early 1900s and it went down to four. Now we’re a little over 3,000 breweries again. So, it’s kind of a testimonial to the survival of craft beer. The Lone Buffalo is a little bit of that survival.”

Though the construction on LaSalle Street naturally caught our attention, at Fox River Rendering, our interest is in ideas. At the core of all we do, from architectural renderings to virtual home staging, we are fundamentally visualizing ideas. Watching such an amazing project come to life right in the heart of downtown Ottawa, I was most curious about the vision of Tangled Roots’ founders. The before and after is only a small part of any new construction or renovation. A transformation is fun and exciting, but it means little without the story and the passion behind it. Scott Struchen had plenty to share to satiate my thirst. Not only is Tangled Roots changing the landscape of Ottawa, but by all rights, it will likely make quite an impact on its future, as well.

Tangled Roots Brewing Company was conceptualized as the culmination of a craft brew experience. Its goal is to become the Illinois Valley’s beer of choice. “We want people to feel and taste and be a part of it.” Set to open in February of 2016, the LaSalle street location has two distinct identities. The taproom, adjoining the restaurant on the north side, is a tasting room as well as a research and development facility. Small batches of beer are currently being produced to test recipes with the company’s growing customer base. With that feedback, Tangled Roots is moving their recipes to the full scale brewery next door. The mammoth brewing equipment on display to the dining room is a sight to behold. Two copper kettles, imported from Germany, stand in the center of the restaurant and brew 15 hectileters (equal to 25 kegs) of beer. Each batch then moves to the giant fermentation tanks behind the dining room. High-top tables and booths, as well as a stage for entertainment, will be overlooked by a bourbon and whiskey bar on the second level. A private dining room, also on the second level, has the best seat in the house. It is surrounded on two sides by floor to ceiling glass windows and beautiful wainscoting across the inside walls. The entire restaurant will seat over 200 people.

Inside The Lone Buffalo

But an all-encompassing experience doesn’t just end with a restaurant and in-house brewery. With the taproom, Tangled Roots will have the capability to expand into a full bottling line as well. Locations around the area are being scouted for a commercial brewery as well, to establish Tangled Roots as a regional brewing company that can support even more locally grown ingredients. A local farm owned by Peter Limberger and Inga Carus, also founding partners, already supplies ingredients to the taproom and restaurant.

It might be just what I’ve been looking for.

All About the Community

An inspiring aspect of the Tangled Roots vision was how much the company plans to source from the community itself, not just in local ingredients, but also through its people. Each person who’s been involved in the project so far has brought new ideas to the table, but the common thread has always centered around engaging the community. “We want people to come away thinking this is a great experience, a new experience.

For more information on how you can visualize your own renovation or building project, get in touch with Fox River Rendering: 3D Visualization Studio:

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