There’s a bit of local history in every pint poured at Macushla Brewing Company, a new microbrewery recently opened by husband and wife team, Megan and Mike Welch, next to Hackney’s on Lake in Glenview.
Mike Welch, the grandson of Hackney’s restaurant founders, Jim and Marcella “Kitz” Masterson, spent a significant chunk of his childhood bussing tables, washing dishes, and listening to family stories dating back nearly 80 years, to when his newlywed grandparents, aged 21, purchased Hackney’s on Harms from Mike’s great aunt and uncle, Jack and Bebe Hackney, who made a business selling hamburgers and beer off their back porch during Prohibition.
“I grew up hearing about that whole era,” said Welch. “Al Capone, hoodlums, gambling…it all happened there.”
Hackney’s on Harms was the first acquisition in what would grow to become a chain of four family-owned restaurants, including Hackney’s on Lake, Hackney’s in Palnos Park, and Hackney’s in Lake Zurich.
Two years ago, after a 15- year stint working at the Chicago Board of Trade, Mike returned to Glenview with wife Megan and pitched his relatives on the idea of opening a small craft brewery inside what had always been the Hackney’s laundry facility: a small outbuilding next to Hackney’s on Lake where every tablecloth, apron and napkin from the Mastersons’ restaurants came to be washed, dried and ironed.
“I’d been a home brewer for 10 years, which gave me the idea,” said Mike. “When I made beer and shared it with friends, it always got good reviews.”
After receiving an enthusiastic nod from their family, the Welches set about transforming the cinderblock building into the 34-seat Macushla Brewing Company, officially opened on September 15th with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Now, a 48-seat beer garden featuring long communal tables greets guests as they enter Macushla’s via the Hackney’s on Lake parking lot. Inside, soft pendant lights illuminate the brewery’s rustic wooden tables and plush leather bar stools. Tall silver brewing vats now stand where the old commercial washing machines churned daily for over 6 decades, a mere 50 feet from the entrance to Hackney’s kitchen.
“It’s a business that’s mutually beneficial,” said Mike, of his arrangement with Hackney’s on Lake to serve their food at the brewery. “We take orders at our bar and call them in, and they feature our beer on the Hackney’s menu.”
At opening time, Macushla’s was brewing 8 craft beers, with room to expand to 12 selections in the future. Of that grouping, Welch and his head brewer, Eric Plata, plan to designate four taps for year-round beers, and the remaining 8 for seasonal offerings. On the immediate horizon is a Belgian-style Saison as well as a Berliner Weisse, a cloudy, sour beer Welch flavors with strawberries and Thai basil.
Translated literally from Gaelic, the word macushla means “pulse” or “lifeblood.” Over time, says Welch, the word evolved to mean “my darling.”
Welch pays homage to his family’s history with his inventive beer selections, a few of which get served with entertaining backstories.
Macushla’s Kitz Irish Red, which Welch ferments using English yeast, is named after Hackney’s matriarch, Marcella Masterson, who was nicknamed “Kitz” as a child.
“She had flaming red hair and loved to drink beer,” recalled Welch.
Macushla’s Clothesline Oatmeal Stout references the brewery’s humble beginnings as a laundry, while the Chalk Eater IPA is a clever shout out to Welch’s grandfather Jim Masterson. As a child, Masterson was charged with keeping track of illegal bets placed by patrons of Jack and Bebe Hackney’s old speakeasy on Harms.
“He wrote down the bets on a blackboard,” said Welch. “He’d have to quickly erase the board and eat his chalk if the cops came.”
Also on offer at Macushla’s is a rich, thick, double black IPA called Coconut Fluff Crunch, as well as a Trickle Up Pale Ale that Welch says is their lightest beer on offer.
“There are quite a few people who like good, fresh beer but want to drink something that tastes familiar,” said Welch, of his pale ale customers.
A full range of famous Hackney burgers can be ordered at the Macushla bar, along with starters like the restaurant’s Original French Fried Onions, Buffalo wings, and potato skins.
Beer enthusiasts looking to try a range of selections can opt for a flight of four 5oz. beers for $10. Individual draughts range in price from $3 for a 5oz. serving up to $18 for a Macushla “pitcher,” served creatively in thick, dark jugs that harken back to Prohibition.
“The popularity of craft beer comes from the educated consumer,” said Welch. “More and more people are looking to buy local and eat local.”
Macushla Brewing Company, 1516 E Lake Ave, Glenview, IL 60025 (847) 730-5199