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Wheeling Trio Turns Brewing Hobby Into a Business

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It started as a hobby, and now it's a business.

From one to the other was a lot of experimenting and red tape.

Basement Brewery — an enterprise begun by three guys making their own beer and showing it off to their friends — now has four restaurants in Wheeling selling its products.

"After about two years worth of licensing and everything that goes along with that, we are bringing our beer to the public," said company CEO Chad Hill.

Basement Brewery describes itself as Wheeling's only locally made craft beer, and Hill says its market plan relies on word of mouth to turn consumers of mass-produced beer into fans of local craft beer.

"We're right now strictly a brewery, and we fill orders of restaurants, pubs and bars. We decided to start small, and we're going to work our way up, he says."

It all started a few years ago.

"I had a day off work, went down and bought a home brew kit," Hill said. "I got addicted. I started trying recipes,"

Hill, Jimmy Schulte and Dave Cornett threw parties where they brought their beer. People called wanting it for their parties. Because Hill and his friends didn't have a license to sell beer, they had to give it away.

"We were brewing so much that it got to the point, why not go into business with this?" Hill said. "We had to make a decision. Is this something we want to do long term? … It basically was a hobby that turned into a job."

Hill said he and his friends had to undergo background checks and apply for at least five licenses, among other things. Their equipment enables them to brew up to 500 gallons per month, but for now only making 300.

"In comparison to other breweries, that's small," Hill said.

It's not been a hard market to break into, as customers have been helpful, Hill said.

Basement Brewery varieties are available on tap at Generations Restaurant and Pub and the Market Vines. It will soon be available at Metropolitan Grill, 1201 Chapline St. Casa di Vino has agreed to sell it by the bottle.

Basement Brewery has released to the public two varieties of beer: a light beer and a double IPA. Others, including a porter, are coming soon.

It's not an inexpensive business to get into, Hill said.

"We've been frugal with it due to the amount of help we've gotten from restaurants and such. We have gone above and beyond to make the managers of these places happy," Hill said.