Community Rallies Together After Skeleton Key Brewing Devastated by Tornado

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As residents in suburban Woodridge continue to deal with the devastation left behind by Sunday’s tornado, the owners of Skeleton Key Brewery are picking up the pieces after their building was left unusable by the storm.

Surveillance footage reveals just how quickly the storm came and went, ripping the roof from the building and leaving a horrific mess inside.

“I heard over the police scanner when they said it was ‘extreme structural damage at 8102 Lemont Road,” Emily Slayton, co-owner of the brewery, said. “I lost it.”

Slayton is devastated, but says she’s grateful that no one was inside the building at the time of the storm.

She says that her husband and her brother had just completed a renovation on the building before the tornado hit.

“We had just done an expansion. We had been working on it throughout COVID,” Paul Slayton said. “We just opened it up in February. Things had finally started turning around and coming back, and it all just went away in one day.”

Now, the Slayton’s are getting a helping hand from the local brewing community, as they help the team at Skeleton Key move kegs, sell cases of beer, and show their support in a difficult time.

“We have so many people here,” Paul Slayton said. “There’s people here today helping us salvage the beer we have. A lot of our friends are putting our beer on tap. This means the world to us.”

Another brewer in the area set up an online fundraiser to help, and it’s raised more than $70,000 in just one day.

“It speaks to the industry in general,” Charolette Converse, director of social media and marketing at Microphone Brewing, said. “Everyone here is close knit, we’re all friends. We’re all in this, and this is something they would have done for any of us.”

Recovery will be a long road, but the spirit and generosity of the beer community is shining bright.

“It’s been the longest two days ever,” Vikki Reid, general manager of the brewery, said. “We’re going to try to keep supporting each other, staying really positive that all of these people are showing up. We’re going to keep giving out hugs, sharing the love, and showing so much gratitude.”

The brewery’s equipment appears to still be in working order, but it will have to be located in a new building. The Slayton’s say they hope to rebuild the facility, but will focus in the short-term on ensuring that their staff is okay and supported.

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