Category Archives: Travel

Wet and looking for a brew in Bloomington

I find myself in Bloomington tonight with an hour to spare…. You know I am going to hit a brewery! It would be especially nice if I could hit one that I have not tasted before!

I yelped it…. Keg Grove is two miles away. Through a torrential downpour…. I head across town to try some of the young breweries flavors. I pull in and sit in my car as rain dumps by the gallons.

Looks pretty dead inside…. I check Yelp. They are closed. Argh! It’s cool. There are other breweries in town. I look up Little Beaver. CLOSED! How about White Oak? CLOSED! Well, I know Destihl is open, but by now, I am down to about 60 minutes.

HyVee! It’s like angels called down with the suggestion. It’s close and won’t take much time to get served. Oh and they have an Electric car charging station I can use for my Prius Plugin.

It’s still dumping rain btw. I head to HyVee and park in the electric parking. I hop out of the car in the rain and discover that these charging stations are a new variety that I do not have in my google wallet. I’m properly damp when I jump into the car to download the correct ap and secure my paypal account to it. I leap out with a quickness and smash my phone up against the interface, hoping that physical brutality will assist in making this charge port work more quickly. Nope. After it goes through the faux authorization animations…. it finally makes the distinctive click that comes when a charging station has released its charge “fill nozzle”. We are live and charging.

To say that I am wet after this side adventure in an understatement! I’m soaked!

The writers room

I step inside to HyVee and drip up to bar. Look at that…. They have the local brews! Destihl, Little Beaver, White Oak and Keg Grove! Why…. Why was this not my first stop?

I start with a Keg Grove, Any Direction you Choose. It’s an IPA that satisfies for a cold beer on a crappy night. Unfortunately though it’s small brewery blandness underwhelms and I am not sure I would order it again.

Next up, Little Beaver, Puh Puh Puh. It’s an American Porter. If you advertise American Porter… I expect some hops. I am hoping for for Revolution “Eugene”. Instead.. I am getting something akin to Bent River Stout. To it’s credit, for a small batch porter, it’s pretty flavorful. The more I drink it, the more I appreciate its complexity. Not a bad brew.

Let’s take stock of the night. If it’s early in the week, skip the small breweries in town. They are working their day jobs! If it’s dumping rain, skip the charging station. You won’t get enough juice out of that charger to make a soaking wet shirt worth your while. If you find yourself in need of the local flavors, get to HyVee! They have a beer selection that is completely centered on the local guys. That is pretty cool and it’s obvious that someone is doing their job at the grocery store!



TBR – One for the Road – Groucho and PJ in Dallas

Possibly the most frequent guest on the TBR is our superfan PJ.  He is nearly acquired the title as guest-host!  Its fine by us… He does a great job holding up this episode.

Groucho, as usual, is running around somewhere in the United States and finds out that PJ is close by and wants to do a show.

Recorded in the Dallas Airport Hyatt lobby bar… It doesn’t get much better than that!  Does it?  Groucho is thinking of doing a few episodes with folks with his remote setup, and will call those “One for the Road”.  Look for more episodes like this in the future.

Beers on the show:  Revolver Iron Head IPA, 4 corners Local Buzz, Rahr and Sons Texas Red Amber, Lakewood Temptress Imperial Milk Stout.  All Dallas based beers… All delicious.

On the show:

  1. Brazilian Steakhouse eating strategies.
  2. Putting Fish in your jacket?
  3. PJ’s lecture on these stupid Texas u-turns!
  4. The Replublic of Texas!
  5. Stow and go???  Really PJ?
  6. Groucho jacked the order of the stops.
  7. TRAVEL!
  8. Scotts Cheap Flights?  PJ’s hookup.
  9. Gin?
  10. Oingo Boingo talk.

We get long on this one…  But… Thats what bar hopping does to you!


TBR Special Edition – Groucho and Kyle at Harvest Cafe

The industry is in flux this week, and Groucho takes the show on the road to visit with fellow beer nerd and head chef at Harvest Cafe, Kyle.   We review all the news of the day and talk a lot about local venues that have opened…  And closed!!!

Beers on the show:  Hand of Fate – Coffee Vanilla Dream Ale, Revolution Anti-Hero (Less than two weeks old!)  2013 Northcoast Old Stock Ale.

  • The sale of Anchor Brewing to Sapporo.
  • Constellation brands buys Funky Buddha
  • Maytag Blue Cheese fortune!
  • Overvaluation, Blue-sky and the growing bubble!
  • Groucho’s microphone problems!  Alesis mixer reboot!
  • Budweiser is Ford?
  • Destihl article in Paste Magazine.
  • Peoria Brewing Company closing down.  We need a brewery in Peoria!
  • The Mr Beer Challenge!
  • New beers arriving weekly in Peoria!
  • CHUD… Groucho apologizes!
  • Kevin’s an *sshole!
  • Shelf space is a premium!
  • Tannin’s and Hops.  New opening in Peoria.
  • Small Pours…  Groucho’s favorite thing!  Destihl Brewery and Pour Brothers in the Heights can be a great bargain.
  • Pour Brothers.  Love is issued!
  • Northcoast Old Stock ale is killing it!
  • Interlude with Groucho while Kyle grabs a cleanup rag.
  • Kyle has never met the CHUD.
  • Mr Beer Challenge, a review.
  • Peoria Brewing company talk… Again.
  • Obed and Issac’s, a conversation!
  • Flying Dog talk!
  • Make room for the new thing!!!
  • Kyle the mule!
  • No splicing!

Thanks to the Harvest Cafe for hosting this “Very Special” Episode!

Look for a completely disjointed drunkfest show after this!


Destihl Brewery

Tonight I had the chance to swing by the new Destihl Brewery on the north side of Bloomington Normal.  I can say with confidence that I have experienced all levels of Destihl to this point.  Matt Potts and his team were very kind to The Beer Report when they first opened the brewpub at Shoppes of College Hills.  One of our greatest moments in TBR history was reporting on a beer brewed with vaginal yeast (Not at Destihl) and watching Matt nearly spit out his beer.  We were there when the production brewery opened and have been amazed and thrilled with the success of the “local guys” as we see their product now line the shelves of our local liquor stores.  

The new Brewery is a natural progression for Destihl.  They have built up gradually, all the while making amazing beers that are becoming sought after nationwide.  Using that momentum, they have spread slowly and steadily across the US and have now built a world class facility.  

World Class?  Um yeah.  I have been a few places over the years.  Destihl is blessed to be in a town that has lots of free space… And it pays off in a facility like this.  Once a cornfield, it has been replaced with aesthetically pleasing open great hall with huge amounts of glass and steel show off the epic space.  This vast cavern was surely the dream of every Viking king making a great-room for his clan.  Every table in the house has you surrounded by tap handles and fermenters.  You know you are in a brewery, but you also know you are in the most modern iteration of what a brewery can be.  When I go to Stone Brewery and Beer Gardens in Escondido California… I am taken by the sheer scale  and bold architecture.  Destihl is no different.  They have strong bold lines in every direction.

The beers on tap are great.  I am a fan of sours and I always will take a draft.  There was a time when that was rare, and I do fully appreciate how spoiled we are in Central Illinois.  For those who do not know the difference…  Sour beers take on a different flavor because of the “wilder” strains of yeast used to brew the beer.  Artisan brewers from Europe have been using an “exposed to the elements” style of brewing for centuries.  Creating local flavors that are literally the taste of that part of the world.  This flavor profile is very different from your traditional lagers or ales.  Some may call them an acquired taste so don’t fear if your taste-buds are taken by surprise.

If you are not a fan of sour beer, Destihl offers everything from Stouts to Ciders.  As with most brewers in the United States, they are willing to make some big and bold India Pale Ales.  They have everything from mild to skull crushing hop flavors.  If you are a “hophead”, you will be pleased.   As in their past locations…. Destihl does not offer other beers on their tap handles.  Years ago that was a bold statement, but as they have grown their selection of beers, it’s not even an issue to find something you like.  (Ask for samples!  They are always willing to give you a taste if you are unsure)

Destihl also offers the newest way to make your beer portable…. The Crowler.  For 9 bucks or so…. Get 20oz of your favorite beer on tap and take it home in a giant can.  The can concept is far superior to those old glass twist top bottles.  No light, no air, nothing is going to ruin your fresh beer.  The crowler, since it is canned, should keep your beer indefinitely.  Drink at your leisure anywhere without the worry of broken glass.  

I did not try any food on this visit.  

It will be interesting to see what is next for our local craft giant.  Will they get so big that they move their headquarters to Chicago like other local industry leaders?  We have to hope not.  This facility and the beers they make are a feather in the cap of central Illinois.  Locals should show this off to anyone who comes to our sleepy little ‘burgs with the preconception that there is nothing to do in the cornfields of Illinois.  

This building stands high above those fields and I am glad to have them here.  

TBR 85 – Stephen Hale of Schlafly Brewing Company


Groucho sits down with Kevin (Harvest Cafe), Kyle (RJ Distributing Cicerone) and Stephen Hale (Schlafly Brewing Company Brewer) at the Harvest Cafe before their beer dinner with Schlafly Brewing.

This one starts off a bit slow…  I think that comes with Groucho not having warmed up with several beers and doing the show at the end of the night as we normally do.  Stephen Hale from Schlafly is probably one of the best guests we have ever had on the show, and its a shame we only had 39 minutes of interview time.  Next time we are gunning for that 4 hour show about all things happening in the brewing world.

Heres the biggest shame in this episode…  Its recorded before dinner.  You cant even imagine how good Chef Terry’s dinner was.  It was one of the best “beer” dinners I have done with any brewery or restaurant.  That is saying a lot.  Kudo’s to Harvest Cafe’s Kevin for putting on an excellent event and bringing together The Beer Report, Kyle and Stephen for this show.

On the show:

  1. The Kilt!
  2. Owning the St. Louis market.
  3. Lawn mower beer.
  4. Kolsch Education.
  5. Glassware talk.
  6. Groucho slams Watermelon Dorado by Ballast Point.  See, I didn’t edit this out Kyle!
  7. Beer Bubble!
  8. Distribution Philosophy.

You can get Schlafly beers at most decent liquor stores in Illinois and parts of the Midwest.  Yeah, Stephen spelled it out… We are special here…  And some of you cant get their stuff!

Theme song as always by Too Much Joy.  “Drunk and In Love”.  Better than any top 40 song of the same name.  Word is… Tim Quirk and the boys were recording a few weeks ago.  This could be a glorious year if we hear something new from them.

TBR 84 – Goose Island 2013 Barley Wine


Beer on the show: 2013 Goose Island Bourbon County Barley-wine.

On the show:

  1. The Bourbon County Rage.
  2. Chud’s cellaring philosophy.
  3. PABN.  (Secret Handshake required)  Whats up with the chugging?  CHUD recommends burning dollar bills.
  4. Consistency is an accomplishment!  80% of success is attendance?  Who said that?
  5.  Axel Rose sitting.
  6. The new Tick series.  Griffin Newman who plays Arthur let us down!
  7. Marc Maron Podcast and Show.
  8. Gary Schandling tribute.
  9. Goo Goo Doll’s…  John Mayer…  Not Jack Johnson!!!  Dave Matthews Band?
  10. Buffalo Wild Wings…  Hooters girls in Peoria…  Sad times.
  11. Arrogant Bastard cans?
  12. Boston.
  13. Fireball???  Why?
  14. Meat sweats.
  15. Aftershock is a hookup lock!  In 1997 at least!
  16. Tindr…  Yeah…  What do two married guys know about this?
  17. Chud digging on Frank Zappa…  Then comparing it to South Park.
  18. Trump, Clinton…  OMG.  Sanders?
  19. Fracking.  Groucho and CHUD break it down non-scientifically.
  20. The Future…
  21. Dont use self check.  Dont use restaurants that use robots.  Use businesses that support local jobs.
  22. If your going to be a sh*tbag… Your going to reap the rewards.  The moral of Krampus.
  23. A last dash of CBR love.

This lovely beer purchased in Pekin Illinois at Broadway Liquors.  Tell them the Beer Report sent you… They will probably ask you WTF that means!


John S Rhodell Brewery – Peoria Illinois


This week, Rhodell Brewery, an institution of downtown Peoria stepped up and spread its wings.  This move and upgrade filled in another gap in the continued effort to revitalize downtown Peoria.

Rhodell brewery has been a staple of bar hoppers in the Water Street Area of downtown for nearly the last two decades. You can get a lot of opinions about their beers, but one thing is for sure, they have outlasted many other Peoria establishments.   While longevity is not an argument for quality, it is a testament to a solid fan base and established business model.   Tonight, Groucho got a chance to stop by the new and improved Rhodell at its new location, the Murray Building.

Classic Paneling!?!?

The new location is just two blocks NE of the old brewery that had been next to Kellehers Irish Pub.  The new residence, the Murray building, is an old warehouse style building with lots of red bricks and air of Peoria history.  It fits the bill for a building that can be molded into modern dwellings and business’ while still keeping the look of authentic.  Future plans call for artist and studio space to fill the rest of the building.

Brew System

The new digs are great.  Walking into the new brewery I immediately noticed the touches of steel, glass and polished wood creating a modern atmosphere.  Looking around, there is no doubt that lots of money was spent to make this move.  The floor plan is wide open.  Lots of tables of varying sizes and tons of large windows are a great improvement over the previous venue.  The outside seating (Smoking) space is small, and they have used everything they have to work with.  Even is the size is on the small side, its still a vast improvement over the previous location.   The brewing system takes up more floor space than you might expect, but they have done a good job of wrapping the area with seating for those folks who want a front row seat on brew day.  One part of the new bar/brewery that did not make sense to me, the inclusion of the old bar from the Water Street location.  I completely understand nostalgia and honoring the past, but the old bar was dark and grim with a personality that screamed of 70’s plywood paneling.  I was taken aback when I saw that bar with its original roof facade sitting in the middle of this re-birth.

The beers for this week are plentiful.  It would be obscene to sit and sample all the beers they had available.  I counted 14 on draft and cask.  I started with the top of the list and had a Hopgasm IPA.  After that, I tried the Mad Cow Milk Stout.   The Hopgasm was very good and the Milk Stout was above average.   Normally, Rhodell beers have similar notes of flavor.  This has been a criticism of them for years by local beer aficionados who don’t consider them a “True” brewery.  I can tell you this.  Both beers I had were flavorful and fit the bill for what I was looking for.  I did not taste any “Rhodell” profile in either of my beers so it makes me wonder if its been greatly improved over the years or a psychosomatic trick to seek out undesirable flavors.  I look forward to trying some more of their beers to see if they have advanced  as much as the facility.rhodells

The Hopgasm IPA I had tonight was $7.50 and the Mad Cow Milk Stout was $5.50.  These prices might be where I might struggle with coming back.  Nothing was listed about ABV, Hops or ANYTHING about the brewing process for these beers.  Yet, in my mind, premium money is being asked for the beer.  I felt like I was in a reverse kickstarter…  Normally, my donation would come with the promise of one overpriced beer or t-shirt.  Today those premium prices made me feel like I was overpaying as some kind of quick repayment for the work done.   It will be interesting to see if those prices stay in place when the “new brewery smell” wears off.

In all fairness, it was the 2nd night of operation and it would be expected that they might have some things to flesh out.  Beer listings with information would be a great addition.  I noticed that the chalkboard at the door was still blank on day two…  Another indicator that the operation is brand new!!!

If the goal with this new location is to serve thirsty travelers and businessmen who come downtown, then Rhodell have hit the mark.  Prices seldom matter to company credit cards and proximity to Caterpillar World Headquarters will make this an easy stop after work.  Craftbeer fans in the Peoria should check it.  This is what a modern brewery atmosphere should be in downtown Peoria.  Craftbeer nerds and naysayers of Rhodell should visit and appreciate an awesome temple of beer.   They have certainly earned my respect with the commitment to the new facility.  Its a comfortable space and a welcome addition to the riverfront that seems to struggle with keeping businesses thriving.  This alone warrants a visit.

TBR Interview – Jennifer Ritter

Peoria Beerfest Organizer Jennifer Ritter spends a few minutes at the Beer Report Table to talk about the fest and all the things going on.

2015 was a great showing for craftbeer in Peoria IL… 2016 promises to be better! Get to the Jaycee’s VIP tent for all the fun next year!

Theme Song from Too Much Joy, Drunk and in Love.

Peoria Brewing Company Show


Todd and Christian host us again!  The brewery is revisited after getting up and going!  Groucho and CHUD visited with Todd and Christian 9 months ago when the old paint store building was just a cold warehouse covered in dust.  Today, we go back on a “Mug Club” day to find a production brewery filled with people, music and food on the patio.  What a transformation!  The show is long, I realize that, but we do get into a lot of brewery business items at all times during the show, and I felt like it was not easily cut.  Remind me to do 2 shows next time!

Apologies ahead of time…  Todd was on a different Microphone and over-modulated to start the show.  (Groucho forgot the 4th mic)  It gets better a few minutes in.  Its like herding cats when you do a podcast with 4 people!

  1. Groucho and CHUD do some but kissing!
  2. Criticism? How do you deal with that?
  3. Stevie Nicks talk leads into Kim Deal, leads into CB talk!
  4. Craftbeer Week 2015?
  5. Mainstream beer philosophy.  Session ales abound.
  6. Whats popped up that you didn’t expect?
  7. Managing a bar?
  8. CHUD’s pirate management book.  Publishing soon!
  9. Janet Jackson?
  10. The hours worked…. Biggest surprise.
  11. Todd is not trusted to run the “till”.
  12. Adam praise!
  13. Rothgar infamy beer.
  14. Sharing the experience makes the beer better.
  15. Todd is always sick!
  16. Pink Eye Saison.  Scott Bayo Saison?
  17. We control our own destiny!  Everyday you work in a brewery is a good day!
  18. Road show!
  19. Brains and Brawn!
  20. Where does the Rock Island Trail go?
  21. Are you happy you are on Pioneer Park?
  22. Mug Club!
  23. Beer as a business.  Brewers Distributing.
  24. Ran?  Sorry… Thought they were bikers!
  25. Rothgar commentary!
  26. Hefe!  They have a Hefeweizen!
  27. Josh Lanning and the beer dinner at the Fox Pub.  Marrow!!!
  28. THE FUTURE:  What does it hold for PBC?
  29. This summer…  Bands!  Madison Ward and the Momma Bear.  Belly Dancers.  Yoga and a flight!
  30. The Golf Room.
  31. Peoria Brewing smack talk.
  32. Food?  Its in the future for the bar.
  33. There are a few Mug Club spots open right now!  You get:  Shirt, new beers, copper mug, special bi annual events.
  34. “Dale”!  The PBC equivalent of Norm.
  35. What happens at PBC, stays at PBC!

Find Peoria Brewing Company beers at any fine drinking establishment with great beers on tap in the middle of Illinois!  Seek them out!


2015 Craftbeer Week Roundup and Peoria Beerfest Roundup


Groucho is back for the final wrap up on the audio show for this years Peoria Beerfest and commentary on American Craftbeer Week 2015.  We then move on to clips from the festival VIP tent with Groucho & CHUD.

Get to Peoria in late April for this Festival and be prepared to have a blast!

On the show:

  • Intro by Groucho with love for his local Peoria/Bloomington bars and restaurants that stepped it up for this years Craftbeer Week.
  • Groucho & CHUD talk Peoria Beerfest.
  • Belching Beaver Beer.
  • Losing your head?
    Stone Brewing Theodors.
    Audio fail!
    Interview: Jennifer Ritter of the Peoria Jaycees. (at 9:00)
    Explore Peoria Video… Jennifer killed it!
  • Do the VIP Tent!
  • Northcoast Brewing Company J Marie.
  • Interview:  Ken Chiu (Official TBR Photographer) (at 12:48)
  • Breakfast at the Fox Pub before the Beerfest!!!  Lets pack the Fox next year!
  • Fried Toast!
  • Groucho drops an F Bomb!
  • Kudos to Pat Hartzler from Brewers Distributing for all his acquisitions at the VIP tent.
  • More F Bombs.
  • Pat Hartzler is not pulled through on the audio show…  Hoping to pull through to video clips.
  • Interview Luke Heminover (at 18:30)
  • The Champagne Room at the VIP Tent.
  • Who are the Jaycees?
  • Trending, #Heminover
  • Interview Steve King (at 21:45)
  • Steve King verified the “Oldest Beerfest” with All About Beer.
  • VIP Aftermath.
  • Three Floyds Black Heart
  • Interview Matt Rixner (at 24:00)
  • Alchemist Heady Topper.
  • “Wife…  Wife…”.
  • More swearing… We are sorry!  Toast should never have that kind of language associated with it!
  • Ken is back.
  • Wrapup with Chud and Ken enjoying the Topper.

The VIP tent is a great way to start the day the Jaycees Beerfest!  See you there next year!