For 20 years, Tighthead Brewing owner Bruce Dir had two jobs: one in corporate America and another at home. His job at home was figuring out how to leave his job in corporate America. It all started in 1993 when Dir was given a home brewing kit for Christmas by his wife. Compared to now, the Illinois craft beer scene was infantile, but
Dir’s already deep-seated passion for gardening and canning was greeted by an intimate group of like-minded brewers in his hometown, the Chicago suburb of Mundelein. For Dir, focusing on his passion for craft brewing came easily, given that he was no stranger to tending to flavors grown in his own backyard, balancing taste profiles, and putting personality into his craft. Already immersing himself in Mundelein’s intimate home brewing scene for over 16 years at this point, fate presented itself in the form of a corporate company reorganization and he took the hint. Goodbye, corporate America. Time to start a brewery. Dir teamed up with the prolific brewmaster Billy Oaks, and now the brewery’s 15-barrel brewhouse produces 3,500 barrels annually—which Die and Oaks keep a close watch on as flavors develop.
As soon as Dir was out of his job, he dove headfirst into the world-renowned Siebel Institute of Technology, realized that taking his work home with him wasn’t as bad as he had remembered, compared to his past career. After completing school, Dir founded Tighthead in 2010 and began production in 2011. There was no time to waste and plenty of beer to brew.
To date, the brewery relies on its name to remind everyone why they do what they do. Tighthead is a callback Rugby, another passion of Dir’s, with the term “tighthead” being a position on field. Camaraderie runs through rugby like wildfire and it’s also what rugby and beer have in common. Bringing people together over quality beer is at the root of it all, and that’s what every member of Tighthead wants to see when their beer finds its way around the Chicagoland area.
Whether you’re exploring Chicago bar by bar or stopping by the Tighthead tasting room to belly-up for a pint, know that it’s the intersection of beer and community that allows Mundelein’s own to stand as one of the Chicagoland’s best breweries.
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