Church Street Brewing Co., a new local brewery and our first visit! Just our luck too, because Joe knows beer with a background in chemical engineering. He can brew with precision. They started in September. They have a thirty barrel system and they are a brewery to watch. You may only be able to stop by to pick up some beer or find it in a local bar, but in future they plan to bottle as well.
We got the entire rundown on the brewing process. Joe and Lisa were most welcoming and willing to teach us more about their beers. From start to finish, the process of brewing beer is straightforward and complex. Each step has a purpose but the adjustments you make can change how your batch turns out.
Their beers are phenomenal. As of our visit, they had four beers a Continental Lager, Bavarian Lager, Scottish Ale and a Brimstone IPA. Their brews are versatile and cover a wide range of flavors. I'd be surprised if you didn't find one that you liked.
Surprisingly, Alison and I both preferred the Scottish Ale. Definitely a more mellow flavor to be expected with emphasis on caramel and malt. It builds on what we already know that chocolate and beer go well together because they have similar flavor profiles. (As I'm hoping that the bread recipe we make with this one adds in some chocolate to bring out that aspect of the flavor.)
The Brimstone IPA also struck a chord with us. I've always been a bit leery of beers because of the potential bitterness, but when you know it's intended you can enjoy it more. That kick that lasts even after you swallow. With strong hints of citrus that add another layer to the flavor we knew it would make an excellent bread. It truly lent itself to become a sourdough.
The Bavarian Lager is fuller. There is more behind the flavor as you combine the floral with the malted notes.
The Continental Lager is more traditional. It sticks to a more middle of the road flavor. A brew that will blend with most other flavors making it perfect to drink anytime or place.
The Red Rye is true to it's name. The rye is prevalent and even more so in a bread form. This brought joy as we enjoyed the heady flavors of rye grains. A perfect compliment to any sandwich in either form.
Lastly, we're going to try something new with our breads. All beer is made with grains. Once the grains are used for this they're called spent grains. They don't really have much flavor, but they are high in fiber. Here's a photo of a portion of Church Street's spent grains from one batch of beer. Church Street actually gives their spent grains to a cattle farm in Washington State. Apparently the cattle love them, but not as much as they love Lucky Charms. :)
Personally, I think its awesome that Church Street has found a great way to extend the life of their grains. This way they don't end up in the garbage. :)
Church Street Brewing Co. is located in Itasca, IL. They have tasting hours from 4-7 pm every Friday afternoon. Check back later this week to see our very first recipe!