Innovating — The Brewer’s Art

Mornings are the best time to make beer. At Side Lot Brewery (SLB) in Wauconda, Brewmaster Phil Castello starts early. Beer has four main ingredients: water, yeast, grain and hops. But how those ingredients are handcrafted makes all the difference to discerning beer lovers.

Since opening in January, Managing Partner Jason Vucic runs the business side of the enterprise, which includes a small tavern with a hipster vibe located in a former dive bar that was completely renovated. Jason’s wife, Cat Lock, pitches in with coordinating special events. All three will take a turn helping bartenders when patrons fill the place.

The third member of the ownership group is Brittany Barth, well known in Wauconda for restaurants her family owns: Lindy’s Landing (established in 1965) and SLYCE Coal Fired Pizza Company (opened in 2010).

SLB has earned a loyal following not only for the ambiance and a small bites menu, but for the range of beers produced. With names like “Tony Bender” (Belgian Strong Ale), “Filthy Ginger” (Irish Red Ale), “Cocky Woodpecker” (Citra IPA) and “Jimmy the Weasel” (Belgian Triple), SLB is pushing the boundaries of local brewing. It appears to be working—the brewery recently built a new tank room with equipment to triple capacity.

Right now the only place to get SLB beer is at the brewery. Want to take some home? Gallon growlers are available, but there’s a catch; printed right on the label is “Drink within 48 hours.” Since there are no preservatives, SLB beer is meant to be shared and enjoyed right away. That means fans of this nano-brewery will always be heading back to see what other innovations the team has dreamed up.

To learn more, stop by at 110 Slocum Lake Road in Wauconda or visit