Sunday, November 18, 2007

Granite City Brewery

Yesterday, a few friends and I stopped by the new brewery in East Peoria called Granite City Brewery. I wasn't sure whether to expect more from them because they are a chain or less from them because they are a chain. I am partial to brewpubs that allow the brewmaster to have complete control over his craft. The better chains often require a certain variety of styles to keep on tap, but let the brewer devise his own recipes. Also, the brewmaster will create seasonal and specialty beers to keep a nice rotating tap.

I realize that this pub is very new and that things may not be in full swing. Apparently, there were four brews completed at this time. The waitress informed us that there would be a seasonal brew available shortly. I was satisfied.

As per usual, I ordered the sampler platter. They charged $3.50. Not bad. They offer two complimentary samples, but I opted for the full array. This was a complete impromptu trip, and I was terribly unprepared. This photo was taken with my phone, so please excuse the noise.

From the left, clockwise: Northern Light Lager, Brother's Benedict Bock, Broad Axe Stout, Duke IPA, and "Two Pull" Beer.

Northern Light Lager (American Light Lager):
Appearance: Light golden and very clear.
Aroma: Very light hop aroma.
Taste: Almost no bitterness. Crisp and light. Low head retention with almost zero taste - the perfect American Light Lager.
Mouthfeel: Very clean and crisp. Moderate amount of carbonation.
Drinkability: Personally, I would not drink it. Objectively it is slightly better than standard American Light Lagers, but I prefer a much hoppier beer.

Brother's Benedict Bock (Bock or possibly Dopple Bock):
A: Dark amber, almost a light brown. No head retention.
A: Very malty and slightly flora.
T: "A caramel kick in the face" was my first reaction. But in a good way. It is rich and thick - very, very malty. Less hops than I had smelled.
MF: Rich and smooth. Medium body.
D: This beer is pretty drinkable. I liked it. I wish it would have been poured correctly with a nice layer of head. It would have completed this beer.

Broad Axe Stout (Dry Irish Stout):
A: Deep black with a white creamy head - true to the style. Excellent head retention.
A: Very toasty with rich chocolatey notes.
T: Very much like it smells. Deep toasted flavors. Almost coffee like notes. Almost no alcohol bite.
MF: Very smooth and creamy. I suspect that it was nitrogenated.
D: This beer is pretty drinkable. I will admit, however, that I love stouts. Next to the IPA, this might be my favorite.

Duke IPA (India Pale Ale):
A: Light amber with a low head retention.
A: Very floral and hoppy. Couldn't pinpoint what hops were used, but I think they were listed in their beer guide.
T: Crispy and floral with a nice hop bite. Excellent finish.
MF: A light body with a good amount of carbonation.
D: This is my personal favorite of all the beers on the tray. It was well balanced and extremely drinkable. This IPA was a lacking a little body for my taste, but it is certainly not a flaw. This is a well crafted brew.

Two Pull Beer (A mix of the Light Lager and Bock):
A: Are you kidding me?
A: You can't be serious.
T: Tasted like what it is. A nice Bock beer ruined by a bland American Light Lager.
MF: Again, are you kidding me?
D: None. I guess if this was the only beer left on the planet, I might drink it.

Note: This was reported to have been a "customer favorite" that turned into a company standard. My opinion: They only had four beers ready to open up the pub, and wanted to fill up the tray. They try to pass it off as a "unique" beer blend. Sounds so upscale, right? If there story was true, my advice: Maybe your company R&D shouldn't come from a drunkard at the bar.

Bottom Line: It's a pretty good brewpub, and I'm glad to have it here in the Peoria area. This community needs places that offer a touch of class. We were too full to try any of their food, but the portions looked gigantic.

Now, I'm getting the urge to go back to Rhodell's. I haven't been there for a while and would like to see what they have brewing...



Chef Kevin said...

Was there last night. I agree with your assessments, except I wasn't as thrilled about the IPA as you. However, most IPAs don't excite me, so, I ended up with a pint of the Bock.

Ken P. said...

I thought the IPA gave a very surprising shock of flavor to my tongue. I enjoyed this, as I like extreem flavors, but I could see how it could be too much for some people.

Hottenstein said...

Just to let you know this fad of mixing beers is becoming somewhat popular. Up here they are doing it as well. Christa orders a "Stinger" which is Honey Weiss and Berry weiss Leinenkugel's. I understand this is from the same style (actually damn good) and this comes from a very popular bar that serves hundreds of bottles and around 30 draughts.

Ken P. said...

An update on Granite City: I recently dinned there, and they had a new beer for the month of December. It was an Irish Ale. I really enjoyed the taste, but it had almost no head. I'm not sure if this was because of the way it was poored or a characture of the beer. It also seemed a little week in the alchohol percentage. This was based on the fact that I felt little to no buzz after drinking one pint of the stuff.

I would suggest revisiting Granite City once a month because it appears that they will showcase a new beer every month.

steve said...

There are many great local Brew Pubs. Visit these, and support the people who really appreciate the craft. In the city where I live, Fort Wayne, we just received a GC, and it aches my soul.