Fireman's Brew

Fireman’s Brew featured in Crain’s Chicago

L.A. firefighters spreading beer to Chicago

Two Los Angeles firefighters-turned-craft brewers are hoping to ignite a following for their Fireman's Brew in Illinois.

The state is the third for the beer behind California and Colorado. Arizona will soon follow.

"It's a major market," Roger Baer, chief executive officer of Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Fireman's Brew, says of going into Illinois and Chicago. "They do a great amount of craft business."

It helps that the city is the backdrop for the prime-time NBC drama "Chicago Fire," he adds.

Fireman's Brew is the latest craft beer to come into Illinois from the West Coast. Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Ore., will appear on shelves in January.

Fireman's Brew has distribution agreements with Grant Importing & Distributing Co. of Broadview and Specialty Distributing of Illinois in Peoria. Mr. Baer said he tapped connections made during a previous liquor distribution career in the state.

The beer is the brainchild of Rob Nowaczyk and Ed Walker, two firefighters desiring a cold brew after battling a blaze. In 2006, the men came out with Fireman's Brew and the catchphrases "Extinguish your thirst" and "Ignite the party." The company produces a lager, a double bock and an amber ale. It gives 5 percent of its profits to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Mr. Nowaczyk said he hopes to ultimately distribute Fireman's Brew in 15 states.

Lorene Yue

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