About Us

Grandpa Bill's WWII photo

Our Story

Beer grounded in tradition, inspired by enthusiasm!

Black Lung Brewing Co. is an alternating proprietorship brewing and distributing out of Zümbier in Waukegan, IL.  Post WWII, my grandfather (Big Bill) went to work in the mines of Kentucky.  This was against the will of his father, who thought they were too dangerous.   As the story goes... One day in particular Big Bill heard a “crack” above his head and ran out of the mineshaft, the whole cavern caved in. He went back into the cavern, his foreman handed him a shovel and said "Billy, get back to work,” but grandpa decided to move on and move north, to Waukegan, IL. instead. This is where he would meet my grandmother, Avonell (who was from West Virgina), start a 30 year career at Outboard Marine Corp., build many homes around Lake County and start this family I so love!  

One day when we were searching high and low for a name to give our brewery, my wife Sarah, heard a song on the interwebs by Joe Bonamassa.  The song was Black Lung Heartache.  Having heard my grandfathers mine story long before (early in our relationship) she thought about how fitting it would be to use this name and tell his story.  We could name the brewery in a way that honors our Appalachian roots and the memory of a man we loved very much, letting us tell his story over and over again.  

We all experience life changing events and usually, they spark change. In this case, it started our family! Grandpa had 8 children, 14 grandchildren and we all still live here in the Chicago Land area. That dream may have ended in an instant, in that Kentucky mineshaft.  Instead, it inspired him and created our family, his legacy. 

Black Lung Brewing Company is a brewery grounded not just in family, but their path and their story.  Beer for hard working folks (like Big Bill) and for those who enjoy it.  Beer, grounded in tradition, inspired by enthusiasm!  I’ll drink to that!  So let’s hear your story!

Thank You, Joshua C. Grubbs President/Brewer

grubbs 2018 family photo

We are up and running!

Black Lung Brewing Co. is an alternating proprietorship operating out of Zümbier in Waukegan, IL.  We don’t currently have a taproom, but are in distribution starting August 12th, 2019! Our long term goal is to open up a brewery and taproom of our own in the central Lake County, IL. area!  Brewing is a family business for us, so when I say "we", I mean all of us. We will be working hard over the next two years to accomplish this achievement and bring another great brewing establishment to the Lake County area. We hope you will try our products once in distribution and at tastings! Come with us on our journey! You can find us on facebook @blacklungbrewing, twitter @blacklungbeer and on instagram @blacklungbrewing!

Josh and Sarah at Forbidden Root

Brewer's Message

As brewer and company president, I commit to brewing beers of the highest quality, inspired by my own tastes and the enthusiasm of our patrons, while grounded in traditional methods for quality and repetition.  Thank you for your patronage.


Joshua C G Grubbs










For Immediate Release



WAUKEGAN, IL. AUGUST 6TH— Black Lung Brewing Company, a new brewery operating out of the Zumbier Brewery in Waukegan at 3232 W. Monroe Ave. starts distribution on August 12th, 2019. They will be in many bottle shops, pubs and liquor stores around Lake, McHenry and Cook County; including Jesters and Green Town in Waukegan, Marcus Cinema in Gurnee, The Vine in Grayslake, Beer Bazaar in Hainesville, IL., and more.

The small craft beer company is owned and operated by Lake County natives, Josh and Sarah Grubbs and is expected to brew 200 barrels of beer in its first year of operation.  The name “Black Lung Brewing” comes from inspiration by musician, Joe Bonamassa, and his song Black Lung Heartache, which reminded the owners of a story Josh’s grandfather told him as a young boy, about when his grandpa worked in a Kentucky Coal Mine.  This has inspired multiple beers to also be named based on family stories and events.  

Black Lung Brewing Company is an alternating proprietorship operating out of Zumbier Brewing at 3232 W. Monroe Ave., Waukegan, IL. The owner Josh Grubbs, completed the concise course in brewing at Siebel Institute in Chicago, IL. and was a home brewer for three years prior to starting the company.  He has won multiple home brew awards over the last couple years. Black Lung brews beer grounded in tradition, inspired by enthusiasm! Black Lung does not have taproom yet, but is focused on local and can be found in many local restaurants, craft bottle shops and liquor stores in the area.  All stores can be found at www.blacklungbrewing.com  

Go find local craft beer and Black Lung Brewing beer!