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Elder Brewing marks 4 years and looks ahead

Elder Brewing Company marks its fourth year of business this weekend, and Andrew Polikandriotis sees it as a sort of graduation.

“Graduating from the school of hard knocks in four years,” Andrew said as he and wife Melissa talked about the business they’ve built at 218 E. Cass St. in Joliet.

The knocks were especially hard the last two years for the Polikandriotis couple as they have been for many bars and restaurants because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elder Brewing is celebrating its fourth anniversary this weekend, including performances by local bands on Saturday and the pouring of a barrel of beer that has been aging for three years.

“We’ve had a lot of growth in the community, in our family and in our business,” Melissa said. “That’s our theme.”

Andrew and Melissa Polykandriotis have had two children, Eleni, 2, and Zoe, 8 months, since starting the business.

Andrew and Melissa Polykandriotis have had two children, Eleni, 2, and Zoe, 8 months, since starting the business. (Bob Okon/)

Growth in the family is obvious. Andrew and Melissa had two children since starting the business: Eleni, who is 2 years old, and Zoe, 8 months.

Growth in the business was thrown off-track by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The goal was to grow the businesses before the pandemic. Then the pandemic happened,” Andrew said.

“We sort of lost the last year and a half,” Melissa said. “We’re at the four-year mark. It’s like where do we go from here.”

Andrew and Melissa say they are taking the business to a new level. They are forming a board of directors and looking for outside investors to help expand distribution of the beers they produce.

Elder Brewing Company, seen here on Nov. 5, 2021, is located at 218 E. Cass St. in Joliet.

Elder Brewing Company is located at 218 E. Cass St. in Joliet. (Bob Okon/)

One of those beers has been brewing for three years and is being released as part of the anniversary celebration. It’s an imperial stout that has been aging in a whiskey barrel.

“We want to celebrate all that we’ve done so far and the connections we’ve made,” Melissa said. “But we want to do more.”

Connections include the musicians and bands who come on Thursdays to play during an open jam.

Artwork from local artists is on display at the bar.

Elder Brewing Company in Joliet displays artwork from local artists for sale on its walls.

Elder Brewing Company in Joliet displays artwork from local artists for sale on its walls. (Bob Okon/)

Elder Brewing plans to resume its “Holiday on Cass” event, put on hold in the pandemic year of 2020, at a yet-to-be-set date in December in which artists and crafters show items to be sold for holiday gifts.

Keeping business local is very important, Andrew said.

When he serves beer brats, he buys the sausages from Mitchell’s Food Mart and the buns from Milano Bakery – two Joliet mainstays. Andrew marinates the bratwurst in his own beer.

“Everything I do I try to keep it local,” Andrew said.

Andrew and Melissa hope to take Elder Brewing to a new level.

But for the people who go there, the experience may be summed up by Eddie Cantu who runs the open jam sessions on Thursdays where anyone who shows up can pick up an instrument and play.

Eddie Cantu (right) runs the open jam sessions on Thursday nights at Elder Brewing Company in Joliet.

Eddie Cantu (right) runs the open jam sessions on Thursday nights at Elder Brewing Company in Joliet. (Bob Okon/)

“It’s pretty much what we do all night – talk, drink and open jam,” Cantu said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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