New brewery captures essence of German culture

After a successful soft opening week, Stubborn German Brewing Co. owners Chris and Tammy Rahn held a thank you party April 30 for family members and friends who helped them with the project, which included demolition work, construction, painting and skilled carpentry work. “Words cannot describe how thankful we are for all your help and support,” Chris said. A special thanks was given to Tammy’s father, Don Landgraf, whose carpenter skills in the project were immeasurable. (Kermit Constantine photo)

After a successful soft opening week, Stubborn German Brewing Co. owners Chris and Tammy Rahn held a thank you party April 30 for family members and friends who helped them with the project, which included demolition work, construction, painting and skilled carpentry work.

What’s the German word for “stubborn?” — No, it’s not “Rahn.”

When Monroe County first became a settlement in 1816, plenty of “hartnäckige” Germans made their nesting in the now 200-year-old community. Local entrepreneurs Chris and Tammy Rahn decided to capture this rich history with their newly opened Stubborn German Brewing Co. at 119 S. Main Street in Waterloo.

“There are some cool pictures from the Waterloo Brewery that we will be putting up in here,” Tammy said.

On April 24, the brewery held a soft opening during which the public could taste specialty “biers” Chris has cooked up over the past several months. One of these beers uses honey from Pamela and Don Laidley’s The Picky Bee at 6131 Chantilly Bend in Waterloo.

Besides the Fountain Creek Kolsch, the Rahns offer six other year-round beers, four seasonal options and three brewer’s choice ales.

“We think people are into the idea that the honey is from a local guy,” Chris said.

Fountain Creek Kolsch is the customers’ current favorite, he said.

One of the seasonals that is now available is the Beantree Coffee Stout. Brewed with Colombian coffee from Bean Tree Café in Waterloo, the stout is described as big and bold.

“We always want a mix of light, dark and hoppy, and then we fill in with whatever might be good at the time,” Chris said.

The coffee stout is considered a wintertime brew. Meanwhile, the Tighty Whitey is a summer specialty; The Great Pumpkin comes around in the fall and Mom’s Irish Red buds in the spring, which Chris describes as a step up from Killian’s.

“It’s more flavorful than that,” he said of the Irish Red.

For now, Stubborn German patrons will need to bring their own food or order delivery from places in the area. Chris and Tammy agree that adding a kitchen is not a project they foresee happening anytime soon, since brewing beer is keeping them busy at the moment.

“We don’t want to be the place that comes in and competes with everybody else,” Tammy added.

Beer science
The Rahns bought specialty beer glasses from Spiegelau Glass Company to accentuate the rich flavor of their beers.

Spiegelau is a 500-year-old company that grew from “creating fine glass mirrors for the old Royal courts of Europe” to designing stout, India Pale Ale and barrel-aged beer glasses, along with wine glasses and other products meant to bring out the aroma and taste of the alcohol for maximum enjoyment.

The IPA glass has a ribbed base to boost surface area and settle the carbonation at the bottom of the glass. Additionally, the glass has a rim that curves inward to direct the hops’ aroma to the drinker’s nose.

Smart investors
Chris and Tammy, who also own Rahn’s Hometown Auto Repair in Waterloo, are also less stubborn than their new business’ name suggests. Taking advantage of every local government grant program, they received as much as $13,000 from the city of Waterloo and other entities for their contribution to the downtown beautification initiative as well as an energy efficiency program.

But these brand-new brewery owners have a knack for finding ways to earn money for their business, as it doesn’t stop there.

The two entered into the Metro East Start-Up Challenge Business Plan Competition that included a pitch to a panel of SIUE judges. Thanks to the help of the late Nora Feuquay, U of I extension community and economic educator, Stubborn German received a $5,000 monetary award as one of two runners-up in the event.

Chris likened the experience to the TV show “Shark Tank” that allows up-and-coming entrepreneurs the chance to pitch a business idea to a group of successful businesspersons who act as judges and potential investors. Chris said the SIUE judges gave healthy criticism to help improve their business plan during the competition.

“The judges’ feedback was that they really liked our idea, and that, if anything, we would have to worry about running out of beer, which is something I never would’ve considered,” he said.

As predicted, the beer is going quickly; the Stubborn German Facebook page notes that Chris is already brewing more Old Ledger Lager and Porter Westfalica.

Successful opening
Stubborn German has been in the making for some time now, and its opening to the public didn’t disappoint.

“Our first two weeks open have been amazing — Chris and I really appreciate all of the support and kind words from all of (the locals),” Tammy emphasized on Facebook. “We are so proud to be a part of downtown Waterloo and we would love the opportunity to serve (anyone interested) a beer.”

However, much of what Tammy and Chris accomplished never could have happened without the massive effort from friends and family to help put the brewery together.

“These fine folks put in many days of work and were gracious enough to share their talents with us,” a Facebook post states. “Words cannot describe how thankful we are for their help and support. We truly have the best family and friends ever.”

Hours of operation for this week are 4:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday;  3 to 11 p.m. Friday; closed Saturday; and 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

When Waterloo’s Municipal Band begins to perform this summertime, Stubborn German will also open its doors on Tuesdays.

Visit, go to the brewery’s Facebook page or call 618-504-2444 for more information.

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