By Kristin Boza
Craft beer fans are bubbling with excitement over the addition of Wil Turner as Head Brewer/Director of Brewing Operations at Open Outcry Brewing Co., 10934 S. Western Ave.
Turner, of Evergreen Park, brings his brewing knowledge to the south side after decades of experience with beer all over the world. As a teenager growing up in Switzerland, Turner was able to legally imbibe at a younger age than U.S. citizens, which gave him a leg up on developing a palette for different kinds of brews. He moved to California as a young man, right when Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and other brewers were starting to develop their craft beers.
“I wasn’t old enough to drink yet in the states, but was old enough to work retail and talk about and sell beer,” Turner said. “I started home brewing in 1992 in Santa Cruz and moved to Chicago 17 years ago to take a job with Goose Island.”
At the time, Goose Island was just a brewpub and Turner ran the pub side of the business. Eventually, as Goose Island began producing beer in greater quantities and varieties, Turner earned a promotion to Senior Brewer and began to experience the production side of beer. As Goose Island expanded its operations and reputation, Turner landed a position at Revolution Brewing, which at the time was a start-up brewpub.
“My previous experiences are all similar to what I’m doing now. I had the opportunity to grow with Revolution and that’s what I’m looking to do at Open Outcry,” he said. “Open Outcry has something good going, and it will be one of the south side beer destinations and a good anchor for the brewing community down here. With Goose and Revolution, I was allowed a lot of creativity so that enabled me to experiment with different beer styles from all over the world; I’m hoping to bring that creativity here and bring some of the large brewery consistency to the products we create.”
Currently, Turner is working to ensure consistency among Open Outcry’s staple beers, like Open Interest, a New England IPA. “I took John’s (Brand, owner of Open Outcry) recipe and made a couple of tweaks and now we’ve hit on a recipe we all enjoy. I want to make sure that every time someone drinks Open Interest, it tastes like Open Interest,” Turner said.
He also wants to be a beer education resource for the neighborhood. Culturally, Chicago has always been a little behind in the beer scene from other craft beer powerhouse cities, like Denver, Seattle and Portland. Now that Chicago has made strides to catch up to the rest of the country, Turner wants to ensure the south side is as educated as our north side neighbors.
“This definitely isn’t an industry that you get into to make money. It is my passion for the product and the people that keeps me going after 26+ years,” Turner said. “It has been great to be a part of the growth of the Chicago/Illinois craft beer scenes, and I’m hoping that my passion for what I do will inspire others to get involved.”
Stay tuned for Open Outcry’s first Irish-style dry stout, to debut just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. “The stout will be traditional, like a Guinness or Murphy’s, and just under 5% abv, so it can be enjoyed all day,” Turner said.