Chicago brothers brew up beer with a Mexican twist in West Town: 'We started in the living room'

Casa Humilde Cervecería in West Town is the only Mexican-American owned and operated brewery in the city

ByRob Elgas and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Friday, December 30, 2022
Chicago brothers brew up beer with Mexican twist
Casa Humilde, a West Town brewery that got its start just before the pandemic, is putting a Mexican twist on their beer.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A West Town brewery that got its start just before the pandemic is putting a Mexican twist on their beer.

Casa Humilde infuses their beer with the rich flavors of Mexico and Latin America.

"We tend to go back to our roots, to our memories," said cofounder Javier Lopez. "We try to use ingredients that speak to us."

Lopez and his brother Javier are the brew masters behind Casa Humilde Cervecería, the only Mexican-American owned and operated brewery in Chicago. And it all began in their Hermosa neighborhood home.

"We started in the living room. We turned our living room into a brewery pretty much," said Javier.

From their "humble home" which is what their name means in Spanish, the brothers moved their business to the District Brew Yards, a collective of Chicago breweries in West Town.

"Hopefully there's more coming down the pipeline because we want to see diversity. You want to go to a beer event and see more people like you," said Javier.

Casa Humilde has gone on to make about 40 beers, including their newest barrel-aged seasonal beer called Tempestad, or storm.

"It's been sitting in the barrels for about year. It's going to be a lot of vanilla, coffee, chocolate," Javier said. "We are going to re-enforce those flavors with toasted coconut, untoasted coconut and a little bit of cacao."

All their beers have names in Spanish and that's intentional.

"At the end of the day we just try to be ourselves," said Javier. "People ask me what if someone can't pronounce the name? Well they can learn."

Like their top-selling Mexican lager named Maizal which means cornfield.

"We use corn, so again our inspiration from our culture, maíz azul is very big for us so we wanted to incorporate that just to get a touch of sweetness," said Jose.

Another big seller is their Media Naranja. It literally translates half orange.

What wasn't intentional was their all Mexican-American staff.

It's just kind of the people that have gravitated towards us and kind of fit well with the team," said Jose. "It's important for us because they can see our vision."

"There's a group of 10 of us that work at Casa Humilde, that's our second family," said JP Mosqueda, Casa Humilde's brand ambassador. "There's not many Latinos in this industry and just knowing that Chicago has Mexican-American brand is very exciting."

"The beautiful thing is that I have an understanding of both sides of the cultures," said the breweries social media manager Chuy Reyes. 'Watching everybody's reaction, everybody loves the beer and to tell the story behind each one is even better because now it' not only that people love the beer, but they also love the story behind the beer."

And beer's not the only thing brewing at Casa Humilde. This year, they started roasting coffee that they import from several regions in Mexico.

They also have a second location at the District Brew Yards in Wheeling.