Notable Native: Jesse Evans


COURTESY Jesse Evans

Ale Syndicate co-founders and brothers Jesse (from left) and Samuel Evans in their Logan Square brewery before the site was filled with equipment and product.

By Metro Reporter

Together, brothers Jesse and Samuel Evans make up the inventive tandem behind Ale Syndicate, the brewery making a splash in Chicago’s craft beer scene. 

The Chicago-based company, which launched in March 2013, began brewing in July 2014 at its new Logan Square facility, located at 2601 W. Diversey Ave. It is a part of the Green Exchange campus, a hub for sustainable businesses. 

While the brewery is not yet open to the public, the company hopes to host events and open a taproom later this year.

Jesse Evans spoke with The Chronicle about launching Ale Syndicate, Chicago politics and further plans for the company. 

THE CHRONICLE: Describe the journey of starting a business.

JESSE EVANS: I was born in Illinois. I lived in Champaign and moved to Chicago. I started out working as a newspaper photographer for the Sun-Times out in the suburbs. I got an opportunity to work  at a newspaper in Sonoma, California. My brother Samuel and I ended up falling in love with beer-making. We opened up our first brewery, called Lucky Hand, in Oakland, California. After a few years, we decided we wanted to come back to Chicago, which we really missed, and started the process of creating Ale Syndicate.

Why did you want to open a brewery in Chicago?

I love the process of beer-making. I love the fact that it’s the type of drink almost anyone can enjoy. It’s not elitist; it brings people together; people have a good time sitting around and drinking beer. I couldn’t imagine a better product to make that would fulfill those things. 

Is there a lot of competition?

It’s a really open and exciting time to [brew]. We don’t focus much on competition. It’s more about being in a community of beer drinkers.

Why did you choose the name “Ale Syndicate?”

I was really interested in the idea of people coming together to accomplish something. [Our story ] is about our entire team; the Green Exchange people, the beer drinkers [and] the people that volunteer at our brewery. That collective action makes this a much better place. 

What are the challenges involved in opening a tap room?

There are a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge around it is making space for the taproom. Opening up a business where you are manufacturing beer has a lot of challenges in terms of regulations. There are complications but it’s also a really fun process to be in.

What is it like to collaborate with  Green Exchange?

[It has been] a really cool community to be a part of. They’ve been our biggest support through the entire creation of the business.

You have a love affair with Chicago politics; can Chicago politics change for the better?

Absolutely, Chicago politics can change for the better. There are a lot of good people working in Chicago politics. The New Leaders Council is an organization that trains young people that might not know about politics in the first place, to be able to participate, help a candidate or become candidates themselves. 

Do you plan to run for office?

I do not. [Operating Ale Syndicate] is all the fun that I ever want to have. I feel it’s more important to support the overall process and get people to vote and participate.