Meet the Men Behind 'Pollyanna Brewing Company'

What will incoming business Pollyanna be like? Where did the owners get their inspiration? Patch got the scoop.

Brian Pawola didn't wake up one day with the urge to open a brewery.

The former member of the healthcare IT field began brewing as a hobby—and started blogging about it as a way to keep friends and family in the loop. As he toiled away in his career, his years-long passion for beer began rising to the surface.

"I wanted to explore either my entrepreneurial or artisanal side and realized brewing was my way of doing both."

So he left his job and decided if he was going to be a brewer, he would be one of the best. He enrolled in the Siebel Institute of Technology’s WBA Master Brewer Program and after graduation, something unexpected happen.

"The opportunity to open a brewery just fell into my lap," he said. "I found the perfect set of partners. The opportunity was there, so I took it."

And so begins the story of Pollyanna Brewing Company—coming in spring 2014 to 431 Talcott Ave. in downtown Lemont. 

Pawola teams up with Ed Malner, Paul and Don Ciciora, and Ryan Weidner to bring Lemont a taste of their vision. 

"We're really excited to be in Lemont—a nice, historic village," Pawola said. "We like our location—filled with natural light, overlooking the canal."

The team might be months from opening, but they can picture the interior as though the beer is already flowing: refurbished woods, stainless steel accents, murals painted by local artists adorning the walls. 

Pawola's inspiration stems from local breweries such as Revolution, Solemn Oath—"a lot of the guys who have paved the way." The group derived the name from a blond-haired, blue-eyed, ever-chipper movie character "Pollyanna"—who was known to be "cheerfully and irrepressibly optimistic."

It might be said they've taken on the same philosophy, also quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald's, "the business of optimism is no mean task." The group is going big with the brewery. 

The location will have the initial capacity to brew 3,000 barrels of beer (1 U.S. barrel equals 31.5 gallons: so that's 94,500 gallons). The taproom is located on a mezzanine that has an open view of the brewery below. The space comfortably seats 45 people indoors, with room for 55 more outside along the canal. They'll offer tasting flights, half pints, pints, and 64-ounce growlers to-go as well as free tours.

They've even decided on their debut brews: four flagship beers including The Full Lemont-y: a "very approachable," light, crisp, clean golden ale at 5.0-percent ABV, to introduce newbies to craft beers. They also intend to experiment with barrel-aged beers. 

Pawola is currently head brewer at Big Chicago in Zion, and has also brewed for contract brewery Ten-Ninety (which can be found at Binny's). 

The team hopes to begin brewing in May, and open the taproom in June. 

"We really want our brand to create a unique experience," Pawola said. "We really think we have a lot to bring to Lemont."

Follow Pollyanna's progress!


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