WELCOME TO WHISKEY HILL BREWING COMPANY!
Whether you are a first time guest or a frequent visitor, we would like to answer a popular question and share a bit of history with you. That ever popular question is, “Do you make whiskey?” Well, not quite! However, since you are asking, we will give you a brief and interesting explanation of how our name, Whiskey Hill, came to be. It is a bit of Westmont history mixed in with some back alley folk tales.
Shortly after The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a man named William L. Gregg arrived in this area and built the Excelsior Brick Company. This factory was built south of the train tracks at the bottom of the “Hill” not far from where you stand right now. This was in what was known in those days as West Mount, which was the highest point West on the BNSF Railroad between Chicago and Aurora. The Excelsior Brick Company would become one of the largest brick companies responsible for rebuilding Chicago after The Great Chicago Fire. Mr. Gregg would build his own brick house at the bottom of the Hill just south of the tracks.
In the 1900s, West Mount began to transform from an agricultural community to a mix of manufacturing and retail businesses. This drew many immigrant workers and skilled tradesmen to the area, and West Mount flourished with the hustle and bustle very similar to nearby surrounding areas. Although Mr. Gregg would not live long, the brick house would have a long, mysterious and exciting history in Westmont.
A few families lived in that brick house after Mr. Gregg passed away, but the fourth family, in particular, is the most relevant to our story. You will want to pay attention! This family was known as the Reitmayer family. Mr. Reitmayer was a former science teacher turned business man, who was also known to have a very creative side. Mrs. Reitmayer was a homemaker with a passion for cooking. Together they had a restaurant that became a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era. It is said that many people would visit this speakeasy including famous baseball players. The infamous Al Capone himself would frequent this establishment to play a game of cards and mix with the hard working locals. It was during this time, people believe Mr. Reitmeyer learned a thing or two about business from Al Capone. There are stories of people hearing mysterious explosions coming from the red brick house. Mr. Reitmayer was known to distill his own whiskey in the basement, and he became a very creative brewer with a real knack for making great beer. On some nights, the Reitmayer’s work truck was seen making trips to the train tracks carrying precious cargo cloaked in an old local grocery blanket. Exactly what cargo was on that truck or where it was going, is left to ponder. However, the future of West Mount was not.
Many quiet conversations about the brick house were had at dinner tables in and around West Mount. Folks from surrounding towns would begin calling the area “Whiskey Hill,” as the beer and liquor continued to flow during the Prohibition Era. There was a notion that this was a place where hard working, prideful people could enjoy a sip of great beer and have good conversation. No one paid any attention to one’s wealth, status or race. It was merely a place for those seeking enjoyment and a break after a hard day’s work. For some, it was a release from the constraints of a strict society. You could rub elbows with a railroad tycoon or sit quietly in a corner talking shop with a few tradesmen, as the flame torches flickered and the trains ran in and out of town.
We felt what a better way to give back to Westmont, than to bring back some history and create a place reflective of this Era. Whiskey Hill is a place where we take pride in our work and let the creativity flow. We hope you will taste this in every sip and create some great memories of your own.
“Whiskey Hill Brewing Company” -WESTMONT, ILLINOIS
P.S. We want to remind you all of this could or could not be factual. To make your own conclusions, we suggest you visit the old brick house where it stands today at 115 S. Linden Ave., Westmont IL. Now known as The William L. Gregg House Museum. If you listen carefully, you may hear some whispers of your own, or you can just take a look in the fridge.