Sunday, October 21, 2007

Illinois Brewing Company

I happened into Illinois Brewing Company this afternoon and was quite amazed at how busy they were. A cancer research benefit was in full swing complete with food and live music. I did not participate in the buffet or raffles, but I did partake in a nice sample platter. Ultimately, I will have to say that they've went downhill since I visited last summer.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with brewpubs, they employee Brew Masters that brew their own beer on site, thus offering fresher brews. Often, they will offer standard bar drinks and corporate beer, but I always go for the house beer - especially the seasonals.

Without further ado (I'll try to keep this brief):
Note: Alcohol content is unknown for these beers.

(from right to left)

Kolsh Beer - A Special Brew
Appearance: Light in color and slightly hazy.
Aroma: Slight floral fragrance - small to medium hop notes.
Taste: Distinct bitter aftertaste. Almost like an Extra Special Bitter.
Mouth Feel: Light, perhaps slightly undercarbonated, but nice.
Drinkability: Drinkable, but not my favorite.

Colonel Harrington's IPA
A: A deep golden amber. Maybe slightly darker than the average IPA. Very clear.
A: Very flowery. Smells like a nice blend of various hops.
T: Prominent alcohol bite at first. Strong whiskey characteristic. I can't pinpoint the exact flavor, but it has definite oak notes. I've never tasted these flavors in an IPA. Could be hoppier.
MF: Light to medium body. Fair amount of carbonation. Alcohol aftertaste.
D: Not very drinkable for me. The "whiskeyness" takes away any pleasure that I expect from a traditional IPA. But, not a terrible beer.

O'Tinley's Lyte Lager
A: Very pale with small carbon dioxide bubbles.
A: Very subtle cherry candy scents. Intriguing.
T: Definite lager characteristics. Bitter, lingering aftertaste. Not very hoppy.
MF: Very light and low in carbonation.
D: Better than most supermarket American Light Lagers, but still my least favorite style of beer.

Big Beaver Brown Ale
A: Deep, deep amber, to moderate brown. Very clear. Moderate Head retention.
A: Malty, deep, almost sour notes. Very low alcohol vapor.
T: Prominent alcohol taste. A bit harsh, but smoothed out by the maltiness. Those same whiskey type flavors are appearing in this beer as well, but not as distracting as those in the IPA. Maybe a bit hoppy for a brown ale.
MF: Smooth and luxurious. Almost silky.
D: Moderately drinkable. The whiskey notes fade after the first few drinks.

Stumblin' Stout
A: Jet Black. Allows very little light to pass through. Moderate head retention.
A: Deep, roasty, malty aromas. Only a trace alcohol scent. Flowery hop aroma.
T: Rich but crisp coffee flavor. Dark maltieness that is also plagued by the whiskey flavors common to most of the beers here. Noticeable tannin bite to the back of the mouth.
MF: Smooth and rich. Medium amount of carbonation.
D: The most drinkable of all beers here. The dark maltiness properly balances the strong alcohol flavors common to these beers. It's almost reminiscent of barley wine. I ordered more of these.

I pondered what was wrong with the situation as I sipped my Stublin' Stout (an American style stout, I believe). Most patrons were drinking Budweiser, which made me very sad. And I kept dwelling on those odd whiskey flavors running wildly through the sample platter. I reasoned that perhaps this problem was external. Maybe dirty beer lines or poorly washed glassware was the culprit (my ice water tasted like Sprite). But I'm not going to make any assumptions here - it very well could have been the intent of the Brew Master.

In any event, I had a wonderful time and encourage you to support locally brewed beer. It eliminates recycling bottles, reduces energy used for transportation, and provides fresh and creative beer to the community.

More detailed images are available here.

Here is their website (which could use an overhaul):


Ken P. said...

Mmmmm.... Those pictures are making me thursty.

Kevin Lowe said...

Yeah, no doubt. Nice photos. I should brew some beer sometime soon.