Wilmette, Community

Once a hobby in his garage, Wilmette home-brewer takes on large operation at Double Clutch Brewery

It all started with a back-and-forth conversation with his younger brother.

“He and I were having a beer and just talking maybe 15 years ago,” Wilmette resident Scott Frank said. “We were making a bucket list of the things we’d like to do that we haven’t done. My brother was a chef and he talked about making homemade sausages. I had talked about making beer; I thought that would be pretty cool.”

A month later, “Guess what my brother tells me he’s doing? He’s making those sausages. I couldn’t let him cross that off his list without doing something on mine.”

Frank immediately purchased “How to Brew,” a home-brewing guide by John Palmer. After reading it, he was off to the home brew supply store. He started with five different beer kits.

“I fell in love with it and it became a full-time hobby for me,” he said. “My garage is a full brewery now.”

Wilmette resident Scott Frank is pictured in his home brewery in his garage.

Frank’s home brewing caught the attention of Mike Chookaszian, a friend he met while their children attended nursery school many years ago.

He and Chookaszian not only became close friends because of their children, but “because we both like beer,” Frank said, laughing.

“We always talked about opening a brewpub,” said Frank, who has ran an illustration business for 25 years. “Fortunately, we never tried it because we would have failed. But now Mike has a small empire of 11 restaurants, and after all that happened, then the conversation about opening a brewpub made more sense.”

As they say: The rest is history.

Chookaszian and his colleagues converted a building into a brewpub and event space called Double Clutch Brewery at 2121 Ashland Ave., Evanston. Locally, Chookaszian also owns Wilmette’s Pescadero Seafood and Oyster Bar and Napolita Pizzeria and Wine Bar with his restaurant group CCH Management.

Double Clutch tabbed Frank and his brewing experience for head brewer of the new restaurant (previously featured here by The Record), which is scheduled to open by early August.

“This is going to be 30 times larger than what I currently do in my garage,” Frank said about the brewery.

Much of the brewing equipment at Double Clutch Brewing in Evanston is visible to customers. | PHOTO BY JOE COUGHLIN/THE RECORD

In terms of beer at Double Clutch, Frank said he isn’t going to be “chasing the next IPA.” He’s going to brew German lager in the new 15-barrel brew house.

“The majority of the beer I make and my passion comes from German lager,” he said. “Those are the things I lay awake about at night.”

On a day-to-day basis, there will be five to six beers on tap brewed by Frank, but there are 15 taps available once he really gets brewing.

Frank’s influence of German beers will carry over into the full-service kitchen, The Record previously reported.

Josh Schonfeld, the chief operating officer and a partner with CCH, described the menu as featuring “American fare with a Bavarian twist,” which means plenty of bar-friendly snacks and burgers to go with bratwurst, sausage and housemade beer cheese, among other items.

Frank will work with a brewing consultant for the next two to three months, then he imagines he’ll have to hire an assistant, he said.

“I am super excited,” he said about becoming head brewer. “When we talked about this, it was three or four years ago. [The pandemic] really delayed us; we were hoping to be open last Memorial Day 2020, so we’re more than a year behind our target date.”

As Frank gets closer to “getting beer in tanks and waiting for a couple pieces to fall in place,” the restaurant readies to open by early August. For more information and to stay up-to-date with the opening, visit the Double Clutch website here.

megan bernard
Megan Bernard

Megan Bernard is a co-founder and the managing editor who directs day-to-day journalism of The Record. Megan enjoys writing about restaurants, entertainment and education and is an established human-interest reporter.

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