Rahns hope to take homebrewing to next level

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Chris Rahn works on brewery plans at home with some of his home brew. (submitted photo)

Monroe Countians likely know Chris and Tammy Rahn as owners of Rahn’s Hometown Auto Repair in Waterloo.

In a year or so, however, the Rahns could be known for something altogether different.

The Rahns recently announced plans to open a brewery in Waterloo: Stubborn German Brewing Company.

Chris has been homebrewing for 10 years, starting with two gallons at a time. These days, he makes 20 gallons at a time.

“When we do it professionally, we’ll be doing 10 barrels at a time,” he said.

He decided to make the switch from homebrewing to opening a business because the auto shop is “running smoothly” and he wanted a new project.

“I’ve had people tell me they want to buy my beer, and I want to be able to tell them they legally can,” he said.

Right now, the Rahns are in the process of working on their licensing, paperwork and approvals.

They’ve created a Facebook page for their future brewery, which has already garnered more than 800 likes.

“It’s very encouraging that people around Waterloo are excited, but it also puts more pressure on us,” Tammy said. “We’re taking the time to get this right.”

At home, Chris has run through many trials and errors with his beer.

“The beauty of homebrewing is that if you want to make some crazy chocolate jalapeño beer, you can do that,” he said. “If it doesn’t taste good, you’re only out a few gallons. On (the professional)

level, you’d better know what you’re doing because you have a lot of money tied up in ingredients. You have to be able to sell it.”

Chris said he’s asked for advice from brewmasters in Red Bud and taken classes in Kirkwood, Mo., to learn as much as possible about starting a brewery.

“They tell you there’s about a year’s worth of paperwork because you can’t get some licenses without having other ones,” he said. “We’re at the very beginning phases.”

Afterwards, they’ll have to order all the brewhouse equipment, which will take about nine months.

“We haven’t put in our order yet because we haven’t figured out a location just yet,” he said. “We’re looking at a few places in Waterloo, ideally downtown.”

The Rahns have big hopes and goals for the future of their brewery, and are looking forward to getting things moving.

“We’re going to open first as a production brewery and sell to local distributors,” he said. “After we get the quality just right, a few years down the road, we could open a tap room.”

They plan to do just keg sales at first, then bottle and can some of the beer down the road.

Chris already has plans for the types of beers he wants to make and sell, and they’re not exclusively German, despite the name.

“You can’t just ignore the fact that Waterloo has huge German ties and heritage,” he said.

He plans to brew Oktoberfest year-round, Honey Kolsch, American IPA and many others.

“We need to get our labels approved soon, so we need to know which beers to focus on,” he said.

Tammy said Chris has been working non-stop on brewery plans in addition to working at the auto repair shop, which will remain open when the brewery is ready, too.

“(Chris) is the most driven person I know,” she said. “He just has this drive where if he gets an idea, it has to happen. He works on the business plan every night. If anyone can do it, it’s him.”

Keep up-to-date on their journey via the brewery’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StubbornGermanBrewingCompanyWaterlooIL.

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