According to the Washington-based Beer Institute, annual beer consumption in Illinois dropped from 53 to 50 six packs per person between 2007 and 2011.
While that may be the case, my colleague Mike Danahey noted, there remains a growing number of places that are offering smaller batches of quality product — and are taking a larger portion of the market share. I contributed to his article this weekend about local breweries finding success with popular summer beers, interviewing Village Vintner Winery & Brewery in Algonquin.
The appeal of a beer in the summer is obvious to Steve and Bob Boyer, the brothers behind Village Vintner Winery & Brewery in Algonquin (thevillagevintner.com). It’s cold and refreshing.
Village Vintner added craft brews to its repertoire in late May when it expanded from a winery in Carpentersville to a winery, brewery and restaurant just up Randall Road at 2380 Esplanade Drive, near Algonquin Commons. That makes it just the third combination winery/ brewery in Illinois and the only one in the Chicago area, Steve Boyer said.
The brewmaster went from brewing 10 gallons of beer at a time, just for fun, to two 100-gallon batches a day, filling the brewery’s three 200-gallon fermenters, so “there will be some adjusting.” But, he said, “So far, so good.”
First up at Village Vintner were No Doubt Stout, English Red Ale and Vanilla Cream Ale. Recently joining them were IPA-, Hefeweizen- and Belgian Wit-style beers.
Steve Boyer recommended the Hefeweizen or Belgian Wit, both light, wheat beers, as perfect summer brews. The Hefeweizen in particular is “light and citrusy and lower in alcohol,” he said. Compared to other Hefeweizens, Village Vintner’s is “a little bit more of the clove than the banana, but a nice balance.”
But Boyers, who oversee restaurant operations at Village Vintner, have noticed one thing already this summer: “It’s not always the light beer,” Steve Boyer said. “People don’t care anymore.”
One guest beer that’s been popular at Village Vintner is Robert the Bruce, a Scottish ale by 3 Floyds’s Brewing Company in Munster, Ind., the brothers said. That’s a dark, malty beer, hard to find on draft in the area.
And, they said, customers have raved about the brewery’s own Vanilla Cream Ale, light and sweet and not unlike the brew at the former Prairie Rock Brewery in downtown Elgin.
“Everybody from Elgin remembers Prairie Rock. It’s been getting rave reviews,” Bob Boyer said.
For the rest of the story read The Case for Beer: Local breweries finding success with popular summer beers (Sun-Times Media).
Photo credit: Andrew Nelles for Sun-Times Media.