EP-100 Ria Neri of Four letter Word Coffee + Whiner Beer Co.

EP-100 Ria Neri of Four letter Word Coffee + Whiner Beer Co.

Today’s guest has been working in Chicago beer for a long time now, but her journey is anything but typical, and it doesn’t follow a straight line at all. 

Yes, she’s a home brewer who now has her own brewery. But here’s how the dots actually connect. 

She started as a homebrewer, and was certainly thinking about opening a brewery some day. But her next step was the role of a beer buyer for Bangers & Lace, and Trenchermen, both favorite bars of mine in the city with great lists. Then she started her own coffee roaster and cafe, called 4 Letter Word…in Istanbul. As in, Turkey, bringing third wave origin coffees to a city with it’s own unique history in coffee. Then she returned to Chicago part-time to start a Chicago-based version of the coffee brand. And during all that, she was working on a brewery concept. Like, the whole time. And just this past week, the taproom for that brewery opened to the public, following her first cans getting on to the shelf. 

The brewery is called Whiner Beer Co. ad it’s a partnership between herself and brewer Brian Taylor on Chicago’s southside. Their first beers, six pack of 12oz cans, are called Le Tub - a mixed fermentation, barrel-aged and blended sour saison for about twelve bucks. It’s a brave new world folks. 

So between her coffee roaster and now getting Whiner off the ground, we wanted to catch up with Ria before she left for Kenya this week for a coffee sourcing trip. We have a great relationship with Whiner — we helped them workshop some things with the team back when the brewery was just a sparkle in her eye — some brand strategy elements that helped focus the concept. But more importantly, their first beer served was a coffee saison for Uppers & Downers this past February, which you can hear more about from our hangover party recording, episode number 72. And at the SCAA expo in Atlanta this past spring, her and I already started talking about this year’s Uppers & Downers as we tasted through some lactic fermentation coffees. Wacky stuff.