Spotlight on Reserve Artisan Ales: This newish, family-owned brewery offers a pour-you-own tap system and beautiful event space in downtown Galesburg
Reserve Artisan Ales
185 S. Kellogg Street
Galesburg, IL 61401
Wednesday: 2-9 p.m.
Thursday: 2-9 p.m.
Friday: 2-11 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 1-6 p.m.
History in short: Reserve Artisan Ales opened in January of 2022, but the historic building it calls home dates back to 1958, when it housed a Ford dealership (and several businesses after that). Blake Benedict, who began home brewing back in 2012 thanks to a kit his younger brothers gave him for Christmas, spent a few years in the industry before taking a break. But during that time away, the love of craft beer never left, and he stayed busy creating recipes for his “next adventure down the road.”
In 2019, he and his brother, Trent, began developing ideas to open their own brewery and renovate the family-owned building. “We didn’t have a true set plan,” Blake admits. “It happened a lot faster than I thought it would, but it worked out well.”
The highlight of the venue is the 1960s Peoria city bus they found in a scrapyard, the shell of which is the dominant feature of the taproom, housing a cooler inside that holds the beer and tap equipment.
The space: The historic building in downtown Galesburg is 18,000 square feet in all, with about 4,000 of that set aside as a taproom and another 10,000 used as a massive (and increasingly popular) event space called The Vault. The patio — complete with fire tables, lounge seating and yard games — is a sought-after destination in warm weather. Being the building originally served as a car dealership, there is no shortage of large windows that offer plenty of natural light, and a glass garage door was already in place.
The highlight of the venue, though, in our opinion, is the 1960s Peoria city bus they found in a scrapyard, the shell of which is the dominant feature of the taproom, housing a cooler inside that holds the beer and tap equipment.
Also worth noting is their pour-your-own tap system, where you pay by the ounce, an idea the Benedict brothers fell in love with after visiting Pour Bros., a craft beer bar with locations in Peoria, Champaign and Moline.
“We felt like it would help us stand out a bit as a brewery and taproom, where guests could control their own experience by trying a mix of beers,” Blake says. “People will try things now that they never would’ve before, even with a bartender and menu right in front of them.”
What we’re drinking: Currently, Reserve Artisan Ales typically offers 10 of their own beers, 15 guest taps (mostly local and Illinois breweries) and then a handful of sodas, seltzers, wine, cocktails and root beer, but their plan moving forward will be to add five more of their own brews to the mix later this year.
I know the flagship beers will come, but we’re having too much fun with experimentation right now.” — Co-owner and head brewer Blake Benedict
Popular options include a blonde stout (made with coffee beans from a local coffeehouse) that has great coffee flavor without being too overpowering — with a new variation coming out this spring with a bananas foster twist. The gALEsburg cream ale is incredibly smooth, and the Haze Ain’t a Faze hazy IPA series has caught on as well.
“I know the flagship beers will come, but we’re having too much fun with experimentation right now,” Blake admits.
On the horizon: Reserve Artisan Ales’ first annual festival, the G-ALES-Burg Beer Fest, is May 6 at the facility, where 25 local craft breweries will be pouring with live music and food trucks on hand. Tickets are available through Eventbrite and via Reserve Artisan Ales’ Facebook page, with proceeds benefiting the Vascular Birthmark Foundation.
From the brewery: “There are usually a couple of people out of any group who don’t want to go to a brewery because they’re not into the craft-beer scene, so our goal was to have a wide variety of options so that everyone will leave happy. It’s been really cool to see this all evolve like it has.” — Blake Benedict, co-owner and head brewer