It’s rare these days to find a third-generation family company that has held to its standards, still doing things the way the founders intended, and still being a great success. Excel Bottling Company, which started back in 1936, is that wonderful rarity.
With the motto “Good Things Don’t Have to Change,” the Breese-based beverage makers continue to turn out delicious homemade sodas the old-fashioned way. That means they use pure cane sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup, quality flavorings—and they bottle it using vintage equipment bought second-hand in 1936. Excel is one of a handful of companies throughout the country still using returnable glass bottles. Just like they’ve always done, the company washes, then refills the bottles for purchase again. Show up at the plant’s side door on any day and you’ll catch customers exchanging their empties for a new pack of 10-ounce sodas.
Take a sip of any of the sparkling flavors and you’ll taste why people are so hot on Excel’s cool flavors. They make a variety under several labels. The Nostalgia selection includes Ski Original, a sparkling citrus soda, which is the company’s biggest seller, Cherry Ski, and six others. The Originals line has fun flavors like Black Cherry, Orange Pineapple, Golden Ginger Ale and Red Cream. Million Dollars sodas are old-time favorites orange, grape and strawberry. And a refreshing trio of blueberry, cherry and strawberry kiwi make up the newer Breese line, a nod to the company’s hometown.
In 2012 Excel jumped on the craft beer wagon and established the Excel Brewing Company. Hiring a top brew master, Rod Burguiere – a local boy who who had been at Stone Brewing Co. in California – the company now produces a range of quality beers that reflect both the west coast’s hoppy trends and our midwest German beer heritage. Five year-round brews include the Munich-style Lefty’s Lager; a black lager, Böse Roggen, made with malt rye; and the hoppy American wheat Flash Bang beer. Seasonal brews include a summertime Piasa Pilsner (through August) and autumn’s smooth Oktoberfest lager. Excel Brewing Company will be hosting its 3rd Anniversary Party on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Every attendee will get a complimentary glass and a chance to taste some great area brews.
With its ever-expanding distribution, you’ll find Excel Beer throughout mid-Illinois and Chicago. And next time you’re driving through Clinton County, be sure stop by the side door of Excel Brewing Company in Breese, and pick up your own six-pack of soda to take home!
Excel Brewing Company
88 South Broadway, Breese
Monday-Tuesday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Thursday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – noon