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Homebrew Collective Lowdive Aims to Join Local Craft Beer Scene

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 8, 2011 9:40PM

While other beer geeks stormed the Aragon Ballroom Saturday for Beer Hoptacular!, we headed to Wicker Park where a group of four men were inching closer to realizing their own dream of joining the growing ranks of local craft breweries.

Andrew Lautner, Matthew Kanable, and brothers Tim and Sean Orr are dedicated homebrewers, developing their mutual love for good beer and brewing while attending Ball State University. Together they're a homebrewing collective better known as "Lowdive."

A "low dive" is a reference to the kitchen barrooms, speakeasies and other unlicensed saloons that littered America during the country's transformation from an agricultural to an industrial nation, where workers went to get away from the salt mines and the reach of the law.

As with most homebrewers, Lowdive has a goal to bring their own beers to market, which is what drew us to Saturday's fundraiser at OhNo!Doom gallery. The crew brought small kegs with them - a Swartzbier, a Harvest ale, a Saison and a Wheat I.P.A. Each of these beers were weighty and the two we tasted, the Swartzbier and Harvest Ale, can stand up to similar selections brewed by local breweries. At an auction table Lautner shared samples of a blueberry saision, an imperial stout, a toasted oat porter and a hefeweizen that was a serendipitous accident: their bottling line contained yeast remaining from the blueberry saison, lending a tart flavor that wasn't out of place in the weizen.

A brew kettle was set up at the taps to take donations, where we saw a fair amount of $20 bills and larger. "We've been looking at East Garfield Park for a brewhouse," Lautner said. "But we're open to other locations if the rent is right."

The money collected from the fundraiser will go toward buildout costs, licensing and other expenses as Lowdive transitions to becoming a brewery.