Out of the wisdom of my Medical School, I was sent to Illinois to participate in a medical board preparation course. Like Napoleon, I was sent away to dwell on a small island. Instead of being surrounded by the crashing waves of the sea, I was surrounded by waves of corn. During my temporary exile I decided that it would be appropriate to evaluate the local brew scene. I discovered that Champaign has a very active beer scene, with 3 excellent microbreweries close by. If you are passing through Illinois, I would definitely stop by this college town for a pint.
Triptych Brewing: This small brewery offers a very pleasant bar feel, while providing a great selection of beer. As you walk into the brewery, you are greeted by fermentation tanks to your left and comfortable seating to your right. The bar offers a very wide selection of beers ranging from sours to stouts. Particularly of note is one of the brewery’s flagship beers the “Golden Oatie”. This unique beer is a coffee and chocolate flavored blond. While it is not my favorite beer in their line up, I have to applaud their execution of this one of a kind brew. My personal favorite is their dark sour, with a hint of dark fruit with a powerful kick of lactic sourness. One awesome aspect of this brewery is that they will can draft beer for you at your request. So, even if you are just passing through, you can grab a can or two of their delicious brews.
Desthil Brewery: This brew pub is an excellent place to grab a burger and a beer. What impressed me most is the vast variety of beer served at this establishment. During my visit there were over 20 beers to choose from. For the person wanting to sample a variety of brews, this brewery offers numerous sizes of beer: 4 oz, 8 oz, 12 oz, and 16 oz. As far as food goes, this place has some of the best bar food around. My burger was perfect in both size and preparation. The combination of beer and food makes this a great one stop destination. If you are just passing through, a number of local liquor stores sell the brewery’s beer. I highly recommend their sour series, with styles including Gose, Berliner, and Flanders Red.
Blind Pig Brewing Company: The Blind Pig is a great little brewery in downtown Champaign. Their personally brewed beer selection is small, but they make up for this by having a number of bottles available for patrons. One of the greatest aspects of this brewery is their outdoor beer garden which is quite extensive. The beer is very solid and quite refreshing. Although the selection is small, the beers that they have available are quite diverse. I think that this brewery stole my heart with their reference to the chewbacca defense. The beer in question is Wookie Snacks, a delicious Black Rye IPA which is both rich and well hopped with a pleasant bitterness and spice. I would also highly recommend their pilsner, which proved to be a refreshing beer for a hot summer night.