By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers
This week, I would like to take a quick break from actually talking about a specific beer and talk about where to find craft beer around the area.
The places I haunt are for different reasons. There are places I stop because I know the people, have a specific beer I am looking for, good prices or a sale, and the ever popular just because this is the most convenient place at the time.
Let’s start with stopping in to see people I know. That place would be Artale Wine Co., on Spring Creek Road near Perryville. I enjoy talking with Anthony and Aaron about the new beers they have and just beer in general. Artale has a good selection of beers reasonably priced, and some that you just won’t find elsewhere in the area. They are also interested in home brewing, so I occasionally drop off a couple of bottles for them to try.
Next on the list are good prices or sales. You usually do not see many advertisements for craft beer on sale. Some proprietors send out e-mails with specials, but for the most part, you need to stop in the store to find out what is on sale. One place that is always price-competitive is Woodman’s. Not only are they competitive because of the large volumes they buy, but also because they have a large selection. If I am in the Beloit, Wis., area, I try to stop at that Woodman’s to pick up beers that are not available in Rockford, such as New Glarus.
Moving on are the places that I go to searching for specific beer that I have heard is available. Some examples are Everett’s Wine and Spirits in South Beloit and Royal Liquor Mart on East State in Rockford. Everett’s has some hard-to-find and very limited release beers that I enjoy. Royal has a large selection. A friend and I once found a couple of bottles of some very rare Barleywine at Royal, a true find indeed, but be aware of the dates on the bottles, as I have found some to be past the best by date.
When I travel, I also like to stop in and see what is on the shelves. Some places that I like are Binny’s (always looking for 3 Floyds) and Beer Temple in the Chicago area. In Wisconsin, if I can find some New Glarus, I am a very happy man.
I am also fond of the local pubs and bars that cater to the craft beer enthusiast. My favorite places, in no particular order, are Anchor Inn (good English pub), Carlyle’s (Rockford’s original brew pub), Der Rathskeller (good German food and nice patio), Kryptonite, Oasis, Olympic (nice deck seating area), Pig Minds (brew pub with vegan menu) and Prairie Street (brew pub with deck overlooking the river).
So, now that you know where I like to go, I would like to ask, where do you go to get your craft beer and why? Is it selection, the prices, you know the people?
Drop me an e-mail at email@example.com with your suggestions so I can stop in and check them out. And if I get enough responses, I will post some of them in an upcoming article.
Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the May 28-June 3, 2014, issue