15 Dec SIT BACK & RELAX: WAKE BREWING
By Tracy Jacks
Brothers were born to showcase craft beer as an art form.
The newest entrant in Downtown Rock Island’s beer scene actually comes from two of its most recognizable faces. If you’re a fan of local art and music, you might already know the brothers Parris. Perhaps you’ve seen younger brother Justen behind any number of DJ kits and drum sets in the area. You might remember older brother Jason from his days behind the counter at Co-Op Records or booking artists for the Rock Island Brewing Company. Together, you may have seen them onstage with their old band, Driver of the Year.
2017 represents a new chapter for the brothers with the launch of Wake Brewing, the Quad Cities’ newest craft beer taproom. For the Parris brothers, it’s the realization of a hobby long in the making. “I was first introduced to craft beer in the late 90’s at RIBCO,” says Jason. “Back then, we called them ‘imports’ because most non-typical beer styles were coming from outside the U.S. Around the same time, Justen and I were on tour with our band. We were down in Athens, Georgia and stopped in this pizza joint called the Mellow Mushroom. That’s when we fell in love with a beer called Grant’s Perfect Porter. It was like nothing like we’d ever had, and it was made in the U.S. That’s when I became hooked on non-domestic styles of beer.”
Justen started experimenting with his own home brews a decade ago, and Jason was soon to follow. The brothers were and still are members of two area homebrew clubs, MUGZ and REFS. Wake is the natural result of ten years worth of happy trials, errors, and success.
“My brother and I were in punk bands for the past twenty years,” Jason explains. “Those bands helped us develop not only our artistic side, but our business side. After years of homebrewing and working at RIBCO, I obviously noticed the trend of craft beer drinkers and breweries popping up, so opening up Wake seemed like the right move. We have our own business while being able to showcase craft beer as an art form. Just like top chefs, we want to people to embrace the ‘craft’ side of beer while being in a low-pressure environment.”
That means no distractions or gimmicks to lure people in the door. At Wake, the only stars of the show are the brews themselves. “We want Wake to be the place to socialize with others, relax, refocus, and let go,” says Jason. “We have no wall-mounted jukebox. No video poker. No TVs. We feel there are plenty of great options in Rock Island if that’s what you want. We want to encourage meeting new people, sitting outside reading a book, or just watching the traffic hustling to its destination while you enjoy a Wake beer.”
If you’re expecting a signature Wake beer, think again. “When we jumped off the cliff and embarked on making Wake a reality, we said right out the gate and atop the list that we didn’t want to have ANY flagship year-round brews,” says Jason. “We wanted to keep it loose and fun. For us, it’s a way to keep an artistic mind to the process of brewing. That’s not to say you won’t see some repeats here and there, but really our focus is more on creating new brews based around different styles.”
Located on the very cusp of the downtown at the triangular intersection of 4th and 5th Avenues, the arrival of Wake’s taproom almost heralds an unofficial corridor of Rock Island craft beers.
“We chose the location for many reasons,” explains Jason, “but yes, being in a close area with Rock Island’s other amazing breweries (Bent River, Radicle Effects, & Blue Cat) was a huge reason. Also, we hope being located next to both the Quad City Botanical Center and the QCCA Expo Center will generate customers looking for something to do after events.”
“The Quad Cities has a strong beer scene,” emphasizes Jason. “You have three breweries in the QCA all pushing close to or over 20 years in business. You’ve got places like RIBCO serving craft beer for close to 40 years, and there’s tons of new bars and breweries opening every year. Within a few miles, you can be exposed to four breweries and countless bars serving amazing craft beer. I’ve worked in the District of Rock Island for over twenty years, and there isn’t a city other than Rock Island that I would rather have opened Wake in.” After receiving rave reviews at their grand opening, Wake is well on its way to becoming another anchor to Rock Island’s thriving craft beer trade.
Wake Brewing is located at 2529 5th Ave., Rock Island. Open Tues.-Fri., 4:00 p.m.-midnight, Sat., 12:00 p.m.-midnight, and Sun., 12:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Visit wakebrewing.com for more info and a list of their current brews on tap.