Following a stint living in Europe, brothers Jim and Jason Ebel began home-brewing to recreate the beers they had tasted there, eventually setting up a homebrew and wine making retail store, before taking the plunge and founding their own brewery Two Brothers Artisan Brewing in 1996. In its near 20 years of existence, Two Brothers has grown from a 15 barrel system to a state-of-the-art brewery and three brewpubs (two in Illinois, one in Arizona) but is proud to remain 100% family-owned. Seven beers are produced year-round – including the Great American Beer Festival medal winner, Domaine DuPage French Country Ale – alongside seasonal and unique releases.
Homebrew store owner Tim Koster dreamt of setting up his own brewery for years when in 1996, with the help of investors, he transformed his store in downtown Moline into a brewpub and by 1999 was crafting Bent River Brewing Company’s first keg of American pale ale. Now producing over 10,000 barrels of beer a year, Bent River Brewing Company also boasts a second brewery and tasting room in neighboring Rock Island. Try its Mississippi Blonde – a popular, light-bodied golden ale that took a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2007.
Bent River Brewing Company, 1413 5th Avenue, Moline, IL, USA, +1 309 797 2722
Bringing a fresh take on Illinois’ craft brewing craze, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria boasts the unique status of being the USA’s first Latin American brewery and incorporates the flavors of Central and South America in many of its beers. Founded by Andrés Araya in 2011 and headed by brew master John J. Hall, 5 Rabbit’s brews include the ancho chile-flavored 5 Vulture Oaxacan-style Dark Ale and the coffee-flavored Yodo Con Leche – winner of the Classic Porter/Stout category at the 2014 Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer. 5 Rabbit Cerveceria is open for brewery tours and its beers can be sampled in an onsite tap room.
DESTIHL’s CEO and brew master Matt Potts first fell in love with craft beer in the early 1990s and after an 11-year career practicing law, he took the plunge and set up the brewery in 2007. Now boasting a 25 barrel brew house capable of producing 20,000 barrels a year and two gastro brewpubs, DESTIHL is establishing itself as one of Illinois’ premier breweries. DESTIHL’s year-round offerings include the World Beer Championship award-winning Black Angel American Stout and specialty releases include its Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Ales series which is aged in oak barrels with microflora unique to downstate Illinois.
Carbondale Craft Brewing – a small community brewery specializing in small batch, handcrafted artisanal beers located in rural southern Illinois – are the minds behind Little Egypt Beer. Founded in 2012 and headed by brew master Ken Rhude – a beer judge with over 20 years home-brewing experience under his belt – Carbondale Craft Brewing can brew up to 300 barrels of beer per year and the brewery offers beer fans tours, tastings, pints and growlers. All beers are crafted using spring-fed lake water and the finest American and European hops: try its Little Egypt Hefeweizen, a gold medal winner at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.
Carbondale Craft Brewing, 140 Buttermilk Road, Ava, IL, USA, +1 618 521 3815