Dreymiller and Kray: Handcrafting Smoked Meats Since 1929
Hidden in plain sight along State Street is a storefront so humble, it is hard to imagine the bounty that lies within. Dreymiller and Kray is a specialty butcher shop that is a destination location for customers who travel from Chicago, Rockford, and many of the states that surround Illinois, for the premium bacon, smoked meats and artisanal sausage products they craft on site.
In our fast-paced, pre-cooked, microwave bacon world, it is hard to imagine the craftsmanship that goes into smoking meats over hickory and applewood logs, grinding small batches of whole spices into special blends that flavor brats and sausages or savoring every bite of high-quality artisanal meats.
Bacon Man, Ed Reiser, would like to make more people aware of this artistry.
Stepping into his shop is a sensory experience. The first thing you notice is the aroma of the smoke house that runs daily in the back of the shop. The savory hickory and applewood scents, combined with the heady aroma of sausage and bacon, stimulate the palate as the eyes feast on the varieties artisanal meats in the cases.
Dreymiller and Kray has occupied that simple storefront since first opening in 1929, and Reiser, who grew up in the Village, has been the owner since 1987. His history with the shop goes back much further to his childhood, learning to tie up sausage links at age 13 and formulating his own beef jerky recipes by the time he was 16. Reiser said he has an innate way of formulating his spices and he formulates all his own at the shop.
The Bacon Man crafts his artisanal meats in small batches to ensure the highest quality and flavor. He says the craft draws him year after year as he continues to learn and grow. He has built relationships with industry experts who share their insights and he uses that knowledge to keep improving his products.
Reiser incorporates a lot of modern science into his old-world processes to ensure that the safest, highest quality meats are sold in his store. Reiser utilizes a pH meter, a water activity meter and a thermo calibration meter to ensure he meets or exceeds food safety standards. He recalibrates his thermometers each day because sanitation, production and making a satisfying, safe product are his top priorities. Reiser keeps meticulous records on his formulations and processes so he can ensure that his products taste the same every time a customer purchases them.
Dreymiller and Kray offers seasonal favorites that include 5 different bacon varieties like mouth-watering hickory, applewood, and unique Matilda Beer Bacon which complements the amber ale of that same name; 5 different brat types; a dozen sausage blends as well as artisanal ham, turkey, duck and goose.
To anyone not sure of what to buy on that first trip into his store, Reiser says, “Just come in!” He and longtime employee, Keith Bloedorn, are happy to help new customers find the perfect flavor profile for a special dinner, an appetizer or even the weekday lunch.
“The world is too fast today. We are right downtown. Just come in and look around. We all have to eat. Take a little time to enjoy the food-savor the aroma. Take that moment to appreciate excellent meats!” Bacon Man advises.
About this Business:
Name: Dreymiller and Kray
Owner: Ed Reiser
Location: 140 South State
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 8am to 5pm, Saturday: 8am to 2pm, Closed Sunday and Monday
Specialties: Smoked bacon, beef, pork, lamb and sausage