Spotlight on Imperial Oak Brewing: Experienced ownership, a versatile venue and strong barrel-aged program is quite a trifecta in Willow Springs
Where you’ll find it: 501 Willow Blvd., Willow Springs, IL 60480
Monday-Thursday: Noon-11 p.m.
Friday: Noon-1 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
History in short: The vision of two home brewers (Brett Semenske and Grant Hamilton) and the owner of a craft beer bar (Chris DiBraccio) has blossomed into a pair of tap room-focused breweries (with the second location in suburban Brookfield) that offer a wide variety of styles. In other words, these guys aren’t afraid to tackle a fair amount of small-batch experimentation, which is just fine by us.
The space: We swung in to the tucked-away Willow Springs location, which opened in 2014, after a round of golf late this summer and loved the versatility of the venue. A private party with young children was wrapping up near the brewing area, baseball games were on the TVs in the bustling taproom, and the flower-filled patio was the place to be in the late afternoon. Neither location has a kitchen, but food trucks make frequent stops and outside grub is always welcome.
Keep an eye out for Imperial Oak’s line of wild and sour beers under their Savage Oak brand, as well as their barrel-aged release events.
Interesting notes: Trivia happens on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and a weekly yoga session takes place on Sundays at 10 a.m. … If you’re up for a scenic fall hike to see the fall colors before settling in for a few beers, check out the nearby Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. … Keep an eye out for Imperial Oak’s line of wild and sour beers under their Savage Oak brand, as well as their barrel-aged release events.
What we’re drinking: The focus of Imperial Oak is on imperial strength and barrel-aged brews, but never fear if that’s not your thing. They offer an ever-changing variety of styles to fit any beer lover’s palate. The Quiet Giant is a 14% barrel-aged imperial stout that’s aged in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels with real black currant juice.
Also, go for the Tropical Hype, a New England IPA made with pineapple juice and toasted coconut. On the lighter side is Buzz Lite Beer, a honey golden ale that’s refreshing and not overly sweet.