In the past dozen or so years, the craft and microbrew movement has been s-l-o-w-l-y making its way into the Sauk Valley. Several really good bars and retailers are around where one can pick up some fine suds (which I will share in a future The List).
Here's a list of breweries that shouldn't be missed, and a can't-miss choice. Since there is such a glut of fantastic brew makers, this list will be limited to those whose states share borders with Illinois (maybe a Great Lake, as well) and whose beers can be found locally.
1. Ambergeddon from Ale Asylum
By far Wisconsin’s best craft brewery. (Sorry, New Glarus fans, you’re wrong.) Products from Ale Asylum in Madison have just recently crossed the cheddar curtain and found their way to the Sauk Valley. AA has a killer lineup from top to bottom with its flagship being this hop-malty amber ale. “Fermented in-sanity,” indeed.
2. Red’s Rye PA by Founders
You can’t throw a rock in Michigan without hitting a top-notch brewery (Bell’s, Dark Horse, Arcadia and New Holland, to name just a few). This hoppy, red ale is my favorite from a brewery that rolls out a virtual murderers' row of fine ales.
3. Moloko Milk Stout from Three Floyds
This one will be harder to find. Some brews from this Indiana brewery are around. They are all great. (Gumballhead and Alpha King have been spotted locally.) This brew, paying homage to the drink in “A Clockwork Orange,” is a creamy smooth, chocolate, coffee flavor bomb. If you can get your mitts on Dreadnaught or Arctic Panzer Wolf from 3F, warn your taste buds; the hops will smack them around a little bit.(And you’ll like it.)
4. TV Party from Revolution Brewery in Chicago
This young brewery, founded in 2010, has made a huge push in the Sauk Valley recently. Most famous for its Anti-Hero IPA, Revolution had added TV Party, a Rye IPA that has a full, clean flavor before the hop attack. Kudos to the brewery for naming its beer with a wink to Black Flag.
5. Boulevard’s Double-Wide I.P.A. (Smokestack Series)
This brewery in Kansas City, Mo., was recently bought by Belgian Brewer Duvel Moortgat. Knowing the passion the Belgians feel about their beer, I expect no disruption in flavor. The Smokestack Series from the brewer is a great bit of interesting beers. Imperials, Tripels and Quads, the series runs the gamut. The Double-Wide is a balanced, drinkable Double-IPA.