Illinois Brewing Insider: Chicagoland Brews Cruise owner Kirk Kilker on the passion shown by Alter Brewing and Whiskey Hill, appreciating the grodziskie style, and the Sidecar Supper Club in Batavia
Owner, Chicagoland Brews Cruise
Favorite breweries: I am blessed to have a number of great breweries near my home. Three of my favorites are Art History in Geneva, Brother Chimp in North Aurora and Sturdy Shelter in Batavia. Great beer, friendly staff and easy to get to. I love being able to support businesses close to home.
In addition, there are numerous breweries we frequent on our Chicagoland Brews Cruise brewery excursions. They all do a fantastic job with our customers, but our guests frequently mention the personalized experiences and the beer provided at Alter Brewing and Whiskey Hill. The passion of their staff for their beer and the brewing process comes through every time we bring a group in. Both are part of our Best of the West tour we offer on Saturday afternoons.
Drinking tendencies: I’m a fan of most beer styles, but I typically seek out traditional-style lagers and pilsners during the warmer months. Plus, I have always been a big fan of West Coast IPAs and saisons. I’ll go to those any time of the year.
Our tour guests frequently mention the personalized experiences and the beer provided at Alter and Whiskey Hill. The passion of their staff for their beer and the brewing process comes through every time.
What are you looking forward to enjoying on draft this fall/early winter?
I had a busy September, so I am a little behind in getting out to sample some of the Marzens and Festbiers currently being offered. I need to catch up quickly while I can still find them.
Hopleaf’s house beers are two of my favorites from Art History, and their rotating taps bring in highly-rated beers from all over. Their Belgian beer selection is outstanding.
Favorite beer bar in Illinois: There are so many, but if I had to choose one, it is Hopleaf on North Clark in Chicago. A close second is the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle. Hopleaf was recently voted best beer bar in the world by one magazine, so this place isn’t a secret. Their house beers are two of my favorites from Art History, and their rotating taps bring in highly rated beers from all over. Their Belgian beer selection is outstanding, and the Belgian influence can be found in their food menu and décor too.
Recent beers that have caught your eye: More recently, I’ve discovered smoky beers and have been craving more. I see that both Brother Chimp and Goldfinger Brewing show a grodziskie style on their tap list. I can’t wait to give these a try.
Best brewery you’ve hit on vacation: I just returned from Oktoberfest in Munich and was lucky enough to experience it with 20 friends and family. Augustiner’s Lagerbier Hell fresh from the barrel was amazing. I highly recommend putting this on your bucket list if you haven’t attended. Such a fun time. Start exercising with some arm curls before you go, as they only serve it in liter mugs (eine mass).
Secret beer spot: Sidecar Supper Club and Beer Garden in Batavia is my secret beer spot. They always have a rotation of craft beers on tap from local breweries and across the U.S. Their bottle and can stock has options from renowned breweries in the States and Belgium. It is a great place to enjoy a beer and live music, and you may even be served by owner, Melissa, stopping by your table while on roller skates.