After a long hiatus AB (now the wife!) and I went back to eat and drink at Destihl, our local upscale brewpub. Long time listeners and followers of the message board probably know the name well and remember hearing it from us on a regular basis at one time. I’m going to start off here with an apology, which some of you may have heard already, and I promise this is the last time I’ll bring it up.
Around two years ago the owner Matt Potts was gracious enough to let me come in and hang around on two ten hour brew days to get a feel of what a day in the life of a brewer is like. It was absolutely a fantastic time. The experience of seeing how things worked was invaluable and gave me new respect for the guys that do it, not to mention Matt gave me plenty of free food and beer while I was there. While there I was filming everything for a Beer Report Special. That never came out though.
A few days later AB and I stopped in to have dinner and quite frankly, we had about the shittiest customer service experience I’ve ever encountered. This wasn’t at all in line with our regular experience with the place, and we had been there very often. AB ordered a cedar plank chicken. I had gotten it once before and it was hands down the best chicken I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. We ordered it again this particular night it came out WAY undercooked. AB took one bite and sent it back. Rather than being cool about it the manager in the restaurant at the time was a complete fucking prick about taking the food back. They took it back, but he insisted on reiterating repeatedly that there was nothing wrong and that it was fine, and continuously implied she was just being bitchy. I’m a dude. I know when guys perceive women are being unreasonably bitchy and this was not one of those moments. I couldn’t figure it out. If you’re going to take the food back, take it the fuck back but don’t start a confrontation over it. Why? You’re comping the cost of the meal, why go out of your way to piss off a customer, especially a pair your most loyal and gung ho customers at that? I mean, seriously, we loved the place. This is was like coming home to finding a girl who you had put way up on a pedestal in your mind taking crystal meth and fucking your creepy neighbor.
What I should have done was send an e-mail immediately to Matt Potts. I have to no doubt he would have done whatever he could to fix the situation. Instead of doing that though I basically said, “fuck that place” and didn’t go back and never did anything with the video. Considering how much generosity had been shown to The Beer Report by Matt that was really a weak thing to do on my part. I’m sure he would have wanted to know one of his employees is shitting on the business he spent every waking moment of his life trying to get off the ground. So Matt, I’m sorry about taking advantage of your hospitality.
With that out of the way, bring on the story of a Behind the Brewery redemption!!!
AB and I decided to stop there again on a Saturday as part of their Oktoberfest kick off and were drawn in by finding our they had something AB and I have been hunting after for years. When we got there it was packed to the gills. The hostess at the counter said we would have a 35 minute wait but it was only about half that. What looked like an old German husband and wife team jammed some seriously cool Oktoberfest music, him on a small drum set and her on an accordion. We got a good table with a view of them.
We started off with a few beers and appetizers. AB got a Oengus Irish Stout. It was a good stout, slightly dry and roasty the way it should be and very drinkable. It had thick black color and ¾ inch thick soft frothy head. Then came the star of the evening. It was a sour cherry ale they refer to as part of their Saint Dekkera series. (The genus name Dekkera is used interchangeably with Brettanomyces. – from the interwebs) The waitress said the beer was aged for a year and nine months in oak with the wild yeast added half way through the aging process. Holy shit… It was beautiful. It came served in a large snifter, having a light color with a hint of red. It smelled like true Belgium farmhouse funk. The waitress tried to warn me, saying it could be hard to drink a glass if you weren’t used to the taste. Well, it was hard to drink a whole glass because I could have spent 2 hours sipping and savoring every drop. It started out slightly sour and funky on the front of your palette, and then just exploded down the sides of your tongue. Fucking glorious!!! Immediately beers like Cantillon Kriek and Fantome came to mind. Yeah, that’s right, this thing sits up there in the realm of the best Belgian beers I’ve ever had. It was like getting a handy with every sip. I was practically in convulsions. I’m going back for more of this.
The appetizers we got were pretty good too. First up were bacon and blue cheese deviled eggs. You can’t really screw up that combination can you? They rocked. We also got the stone fired pretzels. They were like the big pretzels you would get at the theatre but better. They came fresh, crispy on the outside and doughy in the middle. It comes with a side of kind of generic cheddar cheese on one side but some absolutely killer red ale Dijon mustard cream sauce as well.
The anticipation for the main course was feverish after things had started so well. One thing AB and I have spent hours lamenting over since leaving Florida is the utter lack of good Cuban sandwiches here in Illinois. There are a few half ass attempts around, Reggie’s in Normal makes a Barbecue Cuban that’s okay, but nothing that really does it justice. The possibility of getting a good Cuban is really what drew us back in. So how were they? Nearly perfect. Not completely traditional but close enough and amazingly good. They had big crusty pieces of Cuban bread, a fat slab of pork on the bottom, think slices of ham, nicely melted cheese, seriously WTF out of this world pickles, and a spicy kick of hot IPA mustard sauce. We were in heaven. The only element that might have been questionable was the onion. Not bad by any means, but just another element that maybe wasn’t needed. I didn’t mind them, but AB thought that they might have added just a little too much with them. They came with thinly cut fries. They were fine I guess but nothing too special. The sandwich came in a pretty beastly portion on its own so they weren’t really at the top of my priority list.
Time for dessert!!! That meant a big glass of their Bela Oak Aged & Dry Hopped Imperial Pilsner. Destihl didn’t fail to wow me again. There was very little head but big and balanced flavor. It had a big body but not too big. Strongly hopped, but not overly so. The oak made itself very noticeable, but not to where it was distracting from the beer itself. The balance in this beer was masterful.
Ab ordered a giant tart thing that was pretty good but I can’t remember what it was exactly,. It had a rocking, super sour lemon custard and fresh berries. I was enjoying my beer too much to get into it.
After these two big beers I had to call it a night as I was driving but I could have sat around drinking more even though I was completely stuffed. I was left feeling very impressed with what was both in the glasses and on the plates and kicking myself for not being more of a regular. The atmosphere that night was very fun. I didn’t even get around to mentioning that the architecture of the restaurant is completely unique and upscale but also makes note of its Midwest surroundings. A great view of the brewing operations is always a plus for us beer geeks as well.
Overall, this was one of the most satisfying meals and most enjoyable nights out a restaurant I’ve had in a long time. For the quality of everything the price wasn’t so bad either. It’s not the venue for a cheapskate but it will by no means break your bank to have some good food and killer beers. Cheers to Matt Pots and the rest of the Destihl crew for putting an awesome place in Central Illinois. I think it’s about time to stock up on some growlers.