Darin's first home-brewing adventure, 2009
As Matt and Darin Riggs were growing up on their family’s 5th generation Champaign County farm, farming was going through some tough times. Small farms weren’t generating enough profit to support a family and their dad advised them to keep their future career options open. But farming was in their blood, and as they grew up they were always looking for ways to continue the farming operation.
It wasn’t until both were going to college that they discovered just how to add that extra value to their farm-grown product: by turning grain into a magical liquid substance known as beer.
So, after graduating from the University of Illinois, and while serving in the military, they started experimenting in their kitchens and garages with their first home brews. Eventually, Matt’s German wife, Caroline, convinced him that Germany was the place to learn more about brewing. They moved to Germany and Matt started working at the 362-year-old Faust Brewery in the beautiful Bavarian city of Miltenberg. Matt’s love of brewing was cemented; so much so, that he convinced his brother to leave the submarine fleet and to start brewing as well.
In the following years, they both completed their formal education in brewing. Darin went to UC Davis for a degree in master brewing and Matt earned his German brewmaster certification in Munich, Germany. They both spent several years gaining valuable brewing-industry experience until they finally felt ready to come back home to the farm and turn their dream of making their own value-added farm product into a reality.
In the fall of 2015, Matt and Darin, and their wives Caroline and Gail, moved back to Champaign County. They purchased a building surrounded by fields on the edge of Urbana, about a 20 minute drive from their home farm, and started turning it into a brewery.
In June 2016 Riggs Beer Company opened their doors to the public. The brewery sports a four vessel, 15-barrel brew house with ample fermentation capacity. The tap room is surrounded by a 200 seat, family-friendly beer garden as well as test plots of barley and hops.
Three of the flagship beers currently integrate a large percentage of Riggs grown corn and barley malt. The Barleywine and Kolsch are made from 100% Riggs grown grain. Every month, the brewery uses about 1500 pounds of their own grain in their beers.
In December of 2017, Riggs Beer Company installed a large solar array. While they are still on the grid, they offset their electricity use with 90-100% solar power.
Great-grandpa Mohr during harvest at the farm, ca. 1940
Darin, Matt, and Mom Marcia testing out a tractor, 1988
Matt cleaning tanks at Faust brewery, 2013
Matt during wheat harvest just outside the brewery, Fall 2017
Darin, Matt, Caroline, and Kyle at Riggs Beer Company, 2018