More breaking: Six weeks after this announcement was made, Todd posted to his Facebook page that plans for his involvement in the brewery fell through, and he is returning to California to resume production duties at FiftyFifty. It was a great idea while it lasted.
"Breaking!" That's the modern-day equivalent of "Stop the Presses!" And here's a story that's worth the shout.
Todd Ashman, the brewmaster who first brought Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery to prominence in the late 1990's, has announced he will be returning to oversee the brewpub's planned production brewery.
Just a short note to my friends and colleagues. In Truckee, and CA in general as well as those in Chicagoland. I am headed back to Flossmoor, IL to start Flossmoor Station's production facility. This is exciting for me as I get to 'finish what I started there' so many years ago. Fear not FiftyFifty fans as my protege Alyssa Shook has assumed Head Brewer duties and assistants Dano and Steve are well versed in operations as well. I will still have QC oversight and will be an acting consultant for all matters beer for the FiftyFifty team.
I do though very much look forward to the challenges ahead at Flossmoor Station. Reacquainting myself with the Chicago beer scene and getting the beers firing on all cylinders.
I am going to be leaving before July is over so if anyone would care to meet for a beer or cocktail...FiftyFifty the afternoon of July 16th or the evening of the 16th at the Fireside Lounge at the Peppermill in Reno till late...
Thanks for the great times and of course I'll be back for Eclipse barrel vetting and the Release Party.
Flossmoor Station has been involved with planning for a second restaurant with a production brewery for a few years now. Plans for a 28,000 square foot facility in Hammond, Indiana came apart when financing could not be secured. When the news was reported this past March, co-owner Dean Armstrong indicated he had hoped to pursue plans for a production brewery without a pub, possibly in the same Hammond site. Todd has confirmed to me via Facebook that the new Flossmoor Station Brewing Company will be located in Illinois, but they are not ready to announce a site. The brewpub currently packages limited runs of its IPA, Stationmaster Wheat and Pullman Brown Porter, along with limited releases, in 22 oz. "bomber" bottles for retail sale.
Flossmoor Station opened in 1996, taking over the nearly 110-year old Illinois Central passenger station on what is now the Metra Electric line. Greg Moen, the first brewmaster, oversaw building of the brewery and formulated most of the regular house beers still being made today. Todd became head brewer in 1997, during which time he won 11 medals at the Great American Beer Festival. In 2004, he resigned to become head brewer at Titletown Brewing Co. (which happened to be a converted C&NW RR depot) in Green Bay, WI. In 2007 he took the opportunity to open the new FiftyFifty brewpub in Truckee (famous for being near the site of the Donner Party's brutal winter). Ashman first formulated his Eclipse Imperial Stout at FSRB, where it became the first barrel-aged beer to win a GABF medal (Gold, 1998). Ashman re-established Eclipse at FiftyFifty as a limited release, aged in a variety of liquor barrels each year, and made available by a "futures" system, with some bottles at retail going for over $30 each. While the Eclipse name will stay at Truckee, Todd said there would be a barrel aged imperial stout in the Flossmoor brewery's future.
Todd was followed at Flossmoor Station by several other brewmasters, who have continued to win honors for their beers:
- Under Matt van Wyck, FSRB was named Best Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2006 GABF; he departed to take over brewing at Oakshire Brewing in Eugene, OR.
- Bryan Shimkos was brewmaster in 2009-2011; he is now head brewer at Ale Syndicate.
- Nick Barron in 2011-2013, when he replaced Jared Rouben as brewmaster for Goose Island Brewpubs.
- Bjorn Johnson, formerly with Finch's Beer Co., took over in 2013. He also left for Goose Island.
- The current brewmaster is Tom (Bubba) Nelson, who arrived from the RAM Restaurant & Brewery in Schaumburg.