The buttermilk fried chicken and waffles at Hopvine Brewing Co. in Aurora pairs a Belgian waffle, jalapeno slaw and ginger-maple syrup. Aurora Amber is the suggested beer. (Shonda Talerico Dudlicek / The Beacon-News)
It’s not every day that you see a quote from comedian Drew Carey on the wall above the bar: “Things don’t make me nearly as happy as talking and having a beer with my friends. And that’s something everyone can do.”
That’s just one of the quotes found at Hopvine Brewing Co. in Aurora. Co-owner Doug Isley said Carey’s sentiment is the point of why his brewpub exists. “We want people to come in and feel like they’re at home, to be comfortable and enjoy a good meal. We’re not trying to be pretentious. We’re an independent, family-run business.”
Doug Isley said he learned a lot along the way as a craft beer drinker. “I really have found a lot of people are not familiar with craft beer, and there really is something for everyone.”
Jan Isley, Doug’s wife, created the menu and designed the décor. “The menu seems like it goes together real well. The food and drinks enhance each other. We like to give Ken the freedom with beer and use it in food,” she said, adding that Hopvine Brewing Co. includes beer in the soup, chili, chicken and waffles, and mac and cheese.
Chef John Brandon is given a lot of creative freedom to work with the brewmaster, Doug Isley said. The small plates are the most popular, including IPA baked clams, roasted poblano corn fritters, fried dill pickles, a charcuterie plate, Mediterranean dip trio, maple pork waffles, coffee-crusted filet sliders and smoked chicken wings.
“Everyone does wings, but we have smoked chicken wings. We smoke them and put a house rub on and quick flash-fry them,” Doug Isley said. Rubs include smokey house or coffee.
Jan Isley said the most popular salads are the roasted beet with mixed baby greens, crispy pancetta, local parmesan, toasted pistachios and maple vinaigrette; and the spoon with chopped romaine, grilled chicken, pico de gallo, avocado, Renard’s Cheese yellow cheddar, sunflower seeds, fresh corn, crispy tortilla chips and honey lime vinaigrette. The build-your-own mac and cheese night on Wednesdays allows patrons to choose from 15 different ingredients.
The Isleys say they offer a few vegetable and gluten-free options, and note many people mention they found Hopvine Brewing Co. on a gluten-free app.
Urban Tumbleweed: “Before we opened we saw a cardboard box go tumbling through the parking lot and Doug said, ‘Well, that’s an urban tumbleweed,’” Jan Isley recalled.
Brew Monkey: “Our windows look into the brewery and little kids like to press their faces up against the glass to see Doug. He said he felt like a ‘brew monkey’ on display when they would tap on the window,” Jan Isley said.
About the owners: Doug and Jan Isley opened Hopvine Brewing Co. in 2013. The couple were partners at another brewpub until they decided to strike out on their own. They originally met their brewmaster, Ken McMullen, through their church, and decided to bring him along from the old brewery to the new one. “In talking to Ken after church and he mentioned it, we realized we still had a missing piece of the puzzle and Jan and I became the final piece,” Doug Isley said. His wife laughed. “It’s not a real glorious story,” she said.
Décor: A 5,000-square-foot HopYard for outdoor dining and growing herbs and hops used in various dishes, drinks and beer.
We’re different because: “We’re local and independent. We’re not a chain. The way we focus on pairing beer and menu items, we add to the dining experience by giving people suggestions,” Doug Isley said.
Price range: Small plates from $6 to $15. Salads are $8 and $10. Sandwiches and wraps from $10 to $15. Soup and chili are $4 and $6. Large plates from $12 to $16. Desserts are $3 and $6. Housemade sodas for $3. Premium and signature craft beer, wine, signature martinis, signature beer cocktails, signature and premium cocktails and flights.
Logistics: Hopvine Brewing Co. is at 4030 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays for private events only. Contact 630-229-6030 or www.hopvinebrewingcompany.org/.