A Behind the Scenes Look at Revolution Brewery with Innovation Incubator

Blog Content Contributor: PJ Klapperich

The members of Innovation Incubator were given an opportunity to take a personal tour of Revolution Brewery by the owner and founder, Josh Deth, in early September. About 30 MBA students were in attendance. Josh, a UIC alum, is as unassuming as the front entrance of the brewing and canning facility. He was wearing shorts and construction boots and sporting a two-month long beard and a lifelong passion for beer. He not only gave a tour of the brewing process, but also answered questions about how and why his business has been so successful. He is highly involved with his business from many angles. As the founder, today was a typical day consisting of meeting with bankers, fixing the canning line, running forecast reports, giving a tour to UIC MBA students, followed by an interview with the press.

Revolution Brewery is Chicago's fastest growing brewery. They sprang up in Logan Square with their restaurant brewpub three years ago with a 15 barrel capacity. The one-year old facility we toured has a 200-barrel capacity, canning facility, and a tap room large enough to accommodate a raging party. They have more plans for growth as they struggle to keep supply up with demand.

The brewing process is definitely interesting and fun to see, and I recommend the tour to anyone interested in beer. What we as MBA students really wanted to know is how and why Revolution Brewery is so successful and Josh was definitely able to give us some insight. He may look like a normal every day guy, but he is really a very savvy businessman. 

A few take aways of insight from Josh Deth:

Right time, right place. Revolution Brewery did not put any money into advertising. It took them about a year and a half to open between finding funding and bureaucratic licensing and construction. The buzz surrounding the opening is entirely attributed to free social media promotion and word of mouth. Chicagoans were hungry for a good microbrew to call their own. 

Be persistent and don’t give up the dream. It wasn’t until the ninth bank Josh visited until Revolution Brewery found their financing partner. Even with all the government regulations surrounding the brewing process and licenses involved, the biggest triumph was finding a bank that believed in their vision. 

Pace the growth.They actually underestimated their demand in Chicago. If they had expanded their territory too soon, they would have been short of supply to many distributors and retailers in turn causing sour relationships. They plan to expand their capacity steadily to keep up with the demand in their current markets. As they experience more and more surplus, they will feel more comfortable expanding their sales and distribution territories.

Many thanks to everyone who made it out to Revolution Brewery. I’m looking forward to a fun and productive year with Innovation Incubators. See you around campus!