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Old 10-30-2006, 07:36 PM   #1

My girlfirend and I happend to be in Bloomington for a model train show Sunday morning and wanted to go somewhere afterward for a beer or two and to catch the Bears game. We happened upon Illinois Brewing on North Center Street right downtown. I had never been myself, but I recalled hearing that this place had real problems when they first opened, from beers being good to so-so to downright awful. To be honest, I had forgetten about the place.

Well, they seem to have resolved whatever problems they have had. While it is not the best brewpub I've ever been to, it's still pretty decent and worth stopping in if you're in the area.

The place is in an older buliding - maybe a warehouse or old office building? High ceilings and a lot of windows looking out onto the intesection of Center and Front Streets. Pints are reasonable at $3 each! I had all five of the offerings they had on tap at the time: Uptown Amber, McGuire's Irish Red, a Kolsch, Stumblin’ Stout and Colonel Harrington IPA.

The Irish Red was a little off for the style, but still good. The Amber was a nice, middle of the road ale. The Stout and IPA were my favorites. Not much hop aroma from the IPA, but the taste was good. If you're a hop head, you'll be left wanting. But if you like more of a 'subtle IPA', you'll like this one. The stout is a nice, dry stout with just a bit of roasted flavor - very drinkable. They also had on tap Mojo IPA, Sierra Nevada Ruthless Weiss and had just run out of Schlafly Oktoberfest the night before.

They served free chili during the game, which was pretty good. My gf stuck with the IPA and ordered the $1.95 nachos - skip those if you go. They are nothing more than ballpark nachos with round mini-chips and cheese whiz. The pizza looked okay.

I'd pass on the food because - first and foremost, this is a bar. If you're looking for a 'brewpub' with gourmet food, lotsa 'character', wood paneling, ferns and copper tanks, you're in the wrong place. But if you want a beer, have a seat!

I hope this place continues to improve as time goes on. It seems to me they are on the right track. I'll go back whenever I'm in Bloomington next.

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Old 10-30-2006, 09:44 PM   #2
Feb 2006
Posts: 901
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If this is your true assessment of the place, then you were sorely in need of a brewpub, because it is still awful, IMHO. I live near Bloomington, and I went to school there. When I started going to ISU, the now-owner of IBC owned a small LHBS in Normal. So, when he opened IBC, I was pretty excited. The beer there has always been bad.

Last time I was in there - about a month ago - I sat down to have a beer because I always have one when I stop in to buy a 50 lb sack of grain . The owner was on my left with a bunch of regulars. They were all drinking Busch and Bud Light. Now, this would not normally dissapoint me; however, the owner/brewer was drinking Bud Light. When a brewer at a microbrewery/brewpub prefers Bud Light over his own beers - alarms go off in my head.

Needless to say, we got into a conversation about the beers. He told me that he had started using these new hop extract pellets to flavor the beer - no pelletized or whole hops at all!!!! This explains the poorly hopped IPA your wife had.

The only good thing that I can say about the place - the beer is cheap. Every day there is a special called "Brewer's Choice." It always amounts to about 32 oz of beer for about $3.00. Nevertheless, noone in that place drinks the IBC brew.

Next time you are in town, do yourself a favor and drive the extra half-hour to Peoria. There, you will find this place, Rhodell Brewery, where you will not be dissappointed.

BTW, the next time you (or any other HBT'ers) are in this area, PM me. We'll meet for a brew and some real-time homebrewtalk!!

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Old 10-30-2006, 09:57 PM   #3
homebrewer_99's Avatar
Feb 2005
Atkinson (near the Quad Cities), IL
Posts: 17,792
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Originally Posted by sonvolt
Next time you are in town, do yourself a favor and drive the extra half-hour to Peoria. There, you will find this place, Rhodell Brewery, where you will not be dissappointed....BTW, the next time you (or any other HBT'ers) are in this area, PM me. We'll meet for a brew and some real-time homebrewtalk!!
HB Bill

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Old 10-30-2006, 10:10 PM   #4
Ize's Avatar
Mar 2006
Central Illinois
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Amen, and if anyone gets down Decatur-way let me know as well.

"They who drink beer will think beer"
-Washington Irving

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Old 10-30-2006, 10:58 PM   #5

I never said it was great, just that I didn't think it was as bad as everyone claims. I'd heard about stuff being undrinkable and that just wasn't the case. Maybe I just got lucky!

As for needing a brewpub, I think anything in my area will kick ass compared to anything downstate. I offer Flossmoor Station as my prime example and the best in Illinois, period.

It's a shame, but I've never found a 'great' brewpub anywhere outside of the area. You have to go to Great Dane in Madison, WI or Three Floyds in Munster, IN to come close to FS, Piece or Mickey Finn's in the Chicago area.

I'll have to check out the place in Peoria, but I rarely get there. I may be in Decatur next September and may get the chance to try it then.

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