In the heart of the Midwestern region of the U.S. you will find the state of Illinois, which is home to a unique and exciting blend of old and new traditions.
As you explore the tastes of the state you won’t want to miss experiencing the delectable tastes of German-style beers and more and more craft breweries emerge all around you.
The colder climate (perfect for colder fermentation methods) has made Chicago a destination for high-quality lagers since the 1800s. The modern invention of refrigeration made lagers even easier to brew and the beer remains popular in Midwestern America. In fact, one of the most recognized brewers in the world, Anheuser-Busch — which owns Budweiser and Blue Moon, among other brands — quickly grew its brand with the creation of refrigerator cars, which extended the distribution and widespread popularity of its product throughout the U.S.
You may know the taste and recognize the look of this iconic lager, but do you know which glass you should sip one from? You can learn this and more from the Siebel Institute, which has been in Chicago since 1872. The brewing school once taught classes in both English and German to accommodate the diverse population of the city. Today, the institute specializes in shorter courses to target specific skills so brewmasters can get back to making the beer that everybody knows and loves.
Follow your tastes and catch a passenger train to head to your next beer destination, Flossmoor, where you'll see Flossmoor Brewery just steps away from the tracks. This brewery is known for its barley wine, which has won more than 80 awards since opening in 1996. Despite its name, barley wine is actually a beer and was created in England in the 18th century after a wine shortage in France. Brewed like a regular beer, but with a heavy incorporation of fruits, this unique beverage resulted in a higher alcohol content when compared to your average glass of brew. The recipe didn’t arrive in the U.S. until the 1970s and is now the main brew out of Flossmoor Brewing.
Leaving Flossmoor, you can hop on Route 66 and head south for more along the Illinois ale trail. You’ll need to stop in the heart of the Land of Lincoln: Springfield, where U.S. President Abraham Lincoln once worked as a bartender. A number of breweries in town are inspired by Lincoln, like Obed and Isaac's, which opened on the former president’s birthday. Once you've had your fill, head over to Rolling Meadows Brewery and sampling their Abe’s Ale — an American brown ale that's also inspired by Lincoln.
For the full adventure, watch Olly’s Ale Trails on the Travel Channel where you can follow Olly Smith as he visits destinations throughout Illinois and other growing craft beer states in the USA as well.