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Illinois, USA

Our route from St Louis took us directly up the I55 through a very exciting sounding town, titled “Normal”.  Luckily for us, our visit to Normal was perfectly timed accordingly with the launch of Destihl’s brand new destination brewery.

Prior to the launch, we spent our evening in Normal, working through Destihl’s famous Wild Sours range at their Brew pub. The service was second to none, with all the servers having extensive beer knowledge and passion for what they served –  a great introduction to this brewery.

We finished off by wandering over to Flingers Pizza Pub for some craft pizza & craft beer. This was definitely a restaurant you’d want in your local town. The pizza was epic & the beer list extensive.

The next morning we headed over to the launch of the brand new $14 million dollar beer hall, whilst en route to Chicago.

 

A casual 6,300sqft (just for the brew hall!) and ready to seat over 200 dining guests, it was fascinating to see the launch of a site of such epic proportions. It was hugely well organised – in fact I’m not sure I have ever seen so many staff working in one building!

We sat back and watched as punters joyfully checked in countless new brews on Untapped as the beer list changed throughout the day, announced by the jolly ringing of a bell, before moving on to Chicago.

We’d heard lots of positive things about Chicago on our travels and due to various timings, had decided to stay here for the longest we’d stayed anywhere for nearly a year – 7 days! WHAT A TREAT.

We had a jolly good time at Half Acre downing pints of their famous Daisy Cutter Pale Ale in North Centre. We met with Meredith, their marketing manager at their Lincoln Brewery who was lovely enough to spend a while chatting to us about Half Acre, distribution challenges in America and giving us lots of ideas for the brewery. They have a wicked tap room set up to enjoy their delicious beers in. September 2017 was the planned opening date of their new Balmoral brewery, beer garden and tap room, which plans to be an even greater extension of their current set up and a good excuse to go back to Chicago.

Very much resembling the style of 33 Acres in Vancouver, our next stop, Hopewell, brought an element of class to a brew pub, combined with a fun personality and relaxed atmosphere.

With communal seating being the only way to go, we settled down and enjoyed some of their delicious beer in the “most Pinterest worthy brewery” (to quote Time Out Mag) and enjoyed in a few board games. You can order in food here, and although the tap list is not as big as we’ve seen in some, it certainly seemed like a great place to hang with friends.

Next up, and a different, more industrial vibe again, Revolution Brewing’s Brew Pub in Logan Square helped us discover a love of the game of shuffleboard and probably could say they had the largest American flag we have seen adorning a brewery wall?

Illinois’ largest independent craft brewery, they have a huge brew pub site, with plenty of room for food, shuffle board and photo booths alike. What a great space!

Okay it's Indiana

We as we were on our way to the epic  3 Floyds Brewery, we decided to start the day off with a stop in at the very cool 18th Street Brewing  for a pint & some food. But for us, today was more about 3 Floyds.

We were super stoked to have a tour set up with their head brewer Chris Boggess, and the opportunity to ask about their brewing processes and new distillery set up.

Okay okay, so it’s worth pointing out here that 3 Floyds is not actually in Illinois but in Indiana, however as we’d ventured across the state line from Chicago for the day to get here, it felt worthwhile including in this blog post.

Consistently ranked as one of the best breweries in the world and noted for their Dark Star Russian Imperial Stout release it was a real honour to be shown around their relaxed and friendly brew site as well as chill out in their tremendous brew pub.

Whilst wandering around with Chris, we bumped in to Nick Floyd, one of the original 3 “Floyds” who set up the brewery back in 1996 with his brother & father. With family origins in the UK, we had a long chat about cask beer and the UK brewing scene and some of Nick’s plans for 3 Floyds in the future. It’s certainly an exciting time for them, and some of our plans will hail from the “It’s not normal” ideology that has been such a success for 3 Floyds – including brewing beers that you want to drink and not necessarily what the mass market demands.

You can certainly gather some of the UK inspiration in their brew pub, with wooden panelling on the bar, rock greats playing on the stereo & a number of football scarfs hanging from the ceiling. It certainly felt like you were somewhere entirely different from an Industrial site outside of Hammond, Indiana. Thanks to Chris & Nick for taking the time to show us around.

We loved you Illinois!

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