IL Beer Destination: St. Charles
TLDR: Go to St. Charles, IL and stop at D&G brewing, Broken Brix, Pollyanna, Alter, 93 Octane and Riverlands brewing. Thank me later. :)
Whew! It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post. To be honest, the last few years have been filled with so much writing for work that it was hard to find the joy in writing about beer for fun. Lucky for me, I have finally finished my degree so I feel like I can enjoy writing again. No better "Welcome back to blogging" topic than a beer destination!
About a month and a half ago (time flies!) I visited St. Charles, IL. Now I had never really thought of St. Charles as a beer destination. I knew that craft beer staples, Pollyanna and Alter, had opened second locations there but I did not know that there were so many other great spots to explore. In this post, I'll cover the 6 brewery itinerary for St. Charles in the order that I found to be most efficient.
Stop #1: D&G Brewing
Address: 303 N 4th St Suite A, St. Charles, IL 60174
Beers had: Kolsch and FUNEIPA
D&G Brewing is located a couple blocks off the main drag of St. Charles. They have somehow mastered the combination of an up and coming industrial space with brews at the caliber of an established brewery. I had the Kolsch and Nick had the FUNEIPA. The Kolsch was super clean and crisp, very true to style. The FUNEIPA was a hazy IPA coming in at 6.3% ABV. It had the perfect balance between bitter and smooth with come grapefruit notes. On our later stops on the tour, almost everyone said "Have you been to D&G yet?!?" which is always a great sign. Overall super impressed by this spot and a great way to kick off the tour!
Stop #2: Broken Brix
Address: 225 W. Main StreetSt. Charles, IL 60174
Ciders had: Perry, Wild Scrumpy
If you take Main St. back from D&G brewing, you'll walk right past Broken Brix. Don't be scared off by the fact that it looks like just a homebrew shop because inside you'll find a fantastic array of wines and ciders. We stuck to ciders this visit but the wines looked great as well. Take it from me and sit at the bar. The bartenders are so friendly and will tell you anything you want to know about the source of the fruit for the ciders. I had Wild Scrumpy which is a cider that is fermented with natural yeast for 4 days then inoculated with normal yeast. This cider won the silver medal in 2020. Nick had Perry which is a pear cider that was made with pears given to them by the man who made their sign out front...such a fun use for them! All of their ciders are on the drier side, which I'm a fan of. I never like to feel like I'm drinking straight sugar. We also had the chance to try their New England Cider which is made in maple bourbon barrels with caramelized honey, Saigon cinnamon and a mix of caramelized cider and house cider. SO good! It tastes like a less sweet apple pie and the bourbon comes through really nicely! I wish I saw this style around more often!
Stop #3: Pollyanna Brewing
Address: 106 S Riverside Ave, St. Charles, IL 60174
Beers had: Summerly and SMRTSMRT
This is Pollyanna's third location...wild! Their original spot is in Lemont and they opened a second in Roselle. The St. Charles location is where they do their distilling which is made obvious by the giant still behind the stage. They have a beautiful outdoor space as well which is situated across the street from the river and frequently features food trucks. I had one of my personal favorites, Summerly which is a raspberry wheat ale. And Nick had SMRTSMRT, a blue raspberry sour. The blue raspberry sour was crazy! I would definitely recommend getting a smaller pour unless you love very tart, flavorful beers! If you like hefeweizens, give Humpenscrump a try! Its one of my favorite hefes!
Stop #4: Alter Brewing
Address: 12 S. First Street St. Charles, IL 60174
Beers had: Smokey the Bier and Inner Luv
If you've been to Alter's Downers Grove location, this is going to be a real treat! Don't get me wrong, I adore their Downers Grove spot, but St. Charles is just a whole different feel. They are situated right on the Fox River with an expansive patio and modern/industrial taproom. The best part though is that this location has a kitchen! Their food is SO good! We started with Hush Puppies as an appetizer and for our meals Nick had the steak melt and I had the Alter burger. I would definitely make this your dinner spot and sit outside! For the beers, I had Smokey the Bier, a smoked altbier and Nick had Inner Luv, a witbier. It had been awhile since I had a smoked beer and this one really hit the spot! Inner Luv was very spice heavy but if you're a big fan of herbal spices then this is right up your alley! One of my other favorite things about this spot was watching everyone having a great time in the community space next door.
Now this is where we chose to stop and stay the night at Hotel Baker. This overnight break allowed us to really enjoy our time at each stop and make sure that we were being safe and not driving. All the stops on Day 1 are within walking distance of each other. If you decide to go this route as well, I highly recommend staying at Hotel Baker. It is located right on Main St. and across from Alter Brewing. The hotel is a historic landmark, built in 1928 and restored. They kept a lot of the historic features which makes it a fun step back in time.
Stop #5: 93 Octane Brewery
Address: 1825 Lincoln Highway St. Charles, IL 60174
Beers had: Clown Car and Chimp Mobile
So this is where you'll want to drive/uber...while these last two spots are not toooo far from downtown St. Charles, you would not want to walk. 93 Octane might have been my favorite stop on the St. Charles tour...it's really hard to pick a favorite but we had a great time here! The taproom is currently pretty small but they are currently expanding their outdoor space. I love tiny taprooms, they make it feel like you're in on a secret. We went around lunchtime so we ordered food from Urban Counter next door (SO good!) and settled down at the bar. The bartender was so friendly and happy to give his recommendations on beers. I had Clown Car, a cake batter cream ale and Nick had Chimp Mobile, a hefeweizen in collaboration with Brother Chimp Brewing. Everyone can judge me all they want on the cake batter cream ale but it was amazing!
Stop #6: Riverlands Brewing
Address: 1860 Dean Street Unit A St. Charles, IL 60174
Beers had: Pulptart and Women's Emporterment
I knew about Riverlands before we made our trip to St. Charles. I had heard all of the hype for their stouts and sours but had never actually had them myself. Like all great breweries, they are located in an industrial park, but its pretty well marked so you shouldn't have a hard time. They were working on expanding their patio when we visited so it was closed, but we grabbed a seat at the bar. I had pulptart, a blueberry lemon sour and Nick had Women's Emporterment, a porter with cacao nibs, toffee and almonds. The Pulptart was awesome, not overly sour and very refreshing, almost like a shandy. On the other end of the spectrum was Women's Emporterment, it was light bodied and packed a great amount of heath bar punch! I also love that all the proceeds of this beer go to a local chapter of Zonta International, an organization that provides educational opportunities for women and girls.