Beer & Branding: Illuminated Brew Works

WEST LOOP, CHICAGO

Beer & Branding: Illuminated Brew Works

The west side brewery you may have walked by several times without even knowing, Illuminated Brew Works, has been quietly creating. Tucked down an almost too-hard-to-describe alley entrance beneath the Metra line (I'm not even sure I am allowed to tell you where exactly–look for the 2-story skeletal street art...), IBW indulges in their mystique. It is, of course, a keystone to their brand. From the humble basement location in an otherwise buzzing neighborhood to their illuminati-esque logos, you get the sense that they enjoy the mysteriousness of it all. It's all part of the allure. And aside from building this small brand, founder Brian Buckman has made waves in building strong relationships with some pretty big Chicago players; you might have seen IBW's hearty tap space at the likes of Parachute, Fountainhead, and neighbors Twisted Spoke.

We touched base with Brian to learn more about how his creative partnerships have helped build this brand that is slowly but surely popping up on tap and in bottle around town:

"I’ve been working with both arms of our design team for about 25 years now. Jason Pritchett is our illustrator and Mark Ludemann is our designer. Mark is, beyond being one of my best friends, also the most talented designer I’ve had the chance to work with – he'd previously worked on brands Knob Creek and Jim Beam. Jason, also a very dear friend and co-conspirator on many projects, brings a wholly unique perspective to illustration steeped in a drug-drenched, life-long interest in religion and the mystery schools. The three of us make a unique team not only because of many shared interests, but we have an unspoken short hand that is the result of a very long trajectory of shared experiences. I’m fortunate because the people I would want to work with happen to be the people I have the privilege to work with and to call my partners. 

This partnership is driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the fortune of friendship – as opposed to the artificial development of “associates” or some bullshit like that; just like all of IBW. I believe resolutely that this difference shines through in our product."

I’m fortunate because the people I would want to work with happen to be the people I have the privilege of working with, and to call my partners.
— Brian Buckman, Founder
This [creative] partnership is driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the fortune of friendship – as opposed to the artificial development of “associates” or some bullshit like that.
— Brian Buckman
 
 

Images and label artwork courtesy of Brian Buckman, Illuminated Brew Works. Some photographs from the Hop Review. Label artwork and illustration done in collaboration by Jason Pritchett (illustrator) and Mark Ludemann (designer). Be sure to check out our full feature of IBW with our interview with founder Brian Buckman and brewer Jason Monk here.