I had the pleasure of spending an extended weekend in the Chicago area a few weeks ago. As always I’m on the look for new beer experiences wherever I go so I did my research before I left. I was there for a wedding in Plainfield south of Chicago but I didn’t find any breweries or brewpubs from a close distance from where I was. I did a bad job in my research because when I got there I found out the town have it’s own brew pub, Limestone Brewing Company. I also had the pleasure of meeting the brew master Ken McMullen and he took me on a tour around his brewery. Ken has chosen a different rout than many other small breweries. Many of their customers are light beer drinkers so having an extensive selection high gravity over the top beers would not work. He needs to brew something that is not a giant leap from light beer but still interesting and rich in flavor. That is why Limestone only have four beers that is above 6% ABV out of their 20 something beers and they have 3 beers that are below 4 %. I have said before that it’s not very innovative and groundbreaking anymore to brew a high gravity beer with a flavor chock at every sip. I’m a little tired of yet another hoppy IPA, barrel aged stout or a Belgian Raspberry Wit Brown Imperial IPA. The Label if Left Hand Brewing 400 Pound Monkey kind of summarize it; “Cartloads of bitter monkeys flinging wasteful amounts of bananas into the jungle…..we’re so done with that”. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like hoppy IPAs, on the contrary. I do like hoppy IPAs but I just think there are to many of them. As I’m writing this blog I’m having the Sierra Nevada Estate which I think is a really fresh and balanced beer. New Belgium Ranger is one of my favorite beers. But I would like the new trend to be stylistically with a slight touch innovation. And I think that Limestone Brewing Company has some of that. Their low alcohol beers have a lot of flavor. The 3.8% ABV Donndabhan Mild has a distinct malty flavor with a slight roasted tone and a long finish. This beer is made in collaboration with Flossmoor Station Brewing just 40 miles from Plainfield. The Dolomite Oatmeal Stout is also a low alcohol beer with a lot of flavors. It’s only 4% but with a rich and full body with a lot of roasted and coffee flavors. Limestone has had a great success with their Friends With Benefits. It’s a Americanized Belgian style pale ale that was brewed for a Illinois Brewers Guild project involving 15 Illinois breweries. The breweries brewed a beer using the same malt bill and yeast but their own choice of hops. Limestone came up with this Belgian style pale ale that reminds me of a Belgian wit-beer with citrus, some coriander and a good hoppy body and a slight touch of caramel in the finish. Limestone of course has beers that are something for the more sophisticated palates. They have a 8.1% Oak-aged Russian Imperial Stout and 9% Belgian Abbey style ale served with a Cranberry Stilton Cheese and of course a 8.9% Imperial IPA.
Plainfield Illinois might not be at the top of your vacation list. But if you are in the area it’s worth a detour to Limestone Brewing Company. You can bring your family and friends and they don’t have to be beer connoisseurs. Limestone has a wide variety of their own beers, guest craft beers on draft and an impressive selection of domestic craft bottles. Something for everyone!