RED BUD — When brothers Jared and Derek Kueker were making beer as a hobby, family and friends' mugs runneth over.
"We'd been home-brewing for four or five years and slowly we got to the point we were making too much beer," said Jared, 27, with a wide grin.
Derek, 29, laughed about attending get-togethers. "We'd make so much that we'd roll up and in the back of the truck were kegs with taps."
Jared: "We'd have six or seven kegs!"
But, the siblings joke, the freebies are over. Last October, they opened Kaskaskia Brewing Co. and have been cranking out an amazing array of craft beer, from fiery Habanero Blonde to sweet Honey Amber -- and classics in between.
"We try to have a new one every week," Derek said. "We've made 30 styles since October."
There's no bottling, so the only ways to get their beer are to visit their brew house or JV's Bar and Grill in Waterloo. It's the only tavern that carries Kaskaskia on tap.
"I've got the Vanilla Porter (ale)," said Lindsay Bourn, 29, of Belleville, as she and her husband sat at the bar on a Friday night. "It's very good. I'm a porter fan." She also likes Kaskaskia's version of hefeweizen, a German-style wheat beer.
Patrick Bourn, 32, does some home brewing and is willing to try a variety.
"I like the Kolsch (light-flavored wheat). I'm all over the place," he said.
But before selling could start, two years were spent renovating the downtown Red Bud storefront building that dates back to 1855.
The long narrow space with brick walls, tall ceiling, shelves displaying vintage photos of Red Bud businesses and a chalkboard announcing this week's brews, is just the right size for not only drinking, but brewing. Stainless steel tanks sit behind the bar (Kaskaskia was out of its homemade cream soda at the time), but the real business of brewing takes place below ground. You can see the operation by going out the back door and then limbo-ing down through a storm cellar door.
Jared and Derek brew in smaller tanks there, not only because they want a limited production, but because they couldn't fit bigger ones into the cellar.
They've been known to do some experimenting in these close confines.
"It's always at the last minute," said Derek about how he bought out one store's supply of bear-shaped squirt bottles of honey that turned into Honey Amber Ale. "I'm more of a loose cannon about what should be put into beer." That includes hot peppers and pumpkin.
"Right now we're looking for gooseberries," he said.
Five beers typically are on the weekly list. Alcohol content ranges from 5.2 percent to 9 percent for the Belgian Tripel. Pints are $3 and $4. A sample flight of five is $5. Small growlers are $15 with $6 refills, and large growlers are $20/$11. If they've made cream soda, it's $1 pint.
No food is sold, but you're welcome to bring your own.
"Plus, we keep menus from local restaurants," so customers can call and order.
Lyndsey Adams, 22, of Belleville, is part of a group of friends who visit weekly.
"We're huge fans of the (Belgian) Tripel," she said. "We love coming here."
Derek and Jared brew beer a minimum of four weeks, with two to three months typical.
Right now, both live and work in St. Louis. Derek is an actuary and Jared is a mechanical engineer.
The business is open from 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays and 2 to 10 p.m. Saturdays.
"We brew once per weekend -- 12 to 15 hours on a good weekend," said Jared, whose wife Chrystal is due in October with their first child, a girl.
"We work through the night and have the days with our families," added Derek. His wife, Melinda, is ready to have their second child, a boy, at any moment. His daughter Makaya is 1 1/2.
Their parents, Mike Kueker and Christy Hatfield, sister Amber Kueker, and grandparents still live in Red Bud.
At the beginning of this adventure, Jared said they weren't sure what the outcome would be.
"It was, 'Let's see what would happen if we build a brewery in Red Bud,'" he said. "The town has been great embracing it."
Derek nodded. "We wouldn't want to be anyplace else."
Kaskaskia Brewing Co.
What it is: Craft brewery offering a variety of beer, changing weekly. Kegs, growlers, pints sold.
Location: 105 E. Market St., Red Bud
Hours: 6-11 p.m. Friday and 2-10 p.m. Saturday
Handicapped accessible: No
Information: 618-282-2555 or kaskaskiabrewing.com