In 1976 John Hindman and Charlie Konett were merely college friends. But it was then
that they decided to also become business partners. The original Bilbo’s pizza came from this
Little did they know they would build a business that would not only last over 35 years
but also be a haven for their family and other families as well. From the beginning they have
included both of their wives and children in their team and branched out to bring others into their
working family as well.
In 1998 they added a new dimension to their lineup. This was the year that they began
brewing. They started with Wizards Wheat (their most popular brew) and Red Dragon Ale,
recipes that they brew still today.
The restaurant was built on a theme to reflect John and Charlie’s love of fantasy; in
keeping with that most of the names for their beers have revolved around something from
Middle Earth and fantasy elements.
In 2002 Jackson Allen took over the brewery. He was already part of the family having
worked there for a few years prior to this. Though he didn’t have formal training when he started
he has learned quite a bit since that time, continuously working to improve and update the beers
offered at the pub. Just within the past year he has brought in a black IPA and a pumpkin ale,
while maintaining their rotating line up.
Their brewhouse is a single unit, housing a kettle and hot liquor tank, a mere 3 barrel
system. But don’t let the size of the brewhouse fool you. The ability of the brewer is what
determines the quality of the finished beer. While I was there I had a pint of the honey blonde
and sampled the Wizard Wheat, Dragon Red Ale and the Thunderbird. Each one was well worth
the trip. But at the time I was partial to the honey blonde. I was informed by Jackson that this
beer has become one of their most versatile. He has used it as the base for a number of the
specialty spiced ales he has been brewing lately.
When you make it into Kalamazoo to check out the growing beer scene, make a point to
stop into Bilbo’s. Just like Hobbiton, it is off the beaten track, but welcoming and the beer is