Summer may be known as the best season to imbibe, but I have to disagree, not even just for the sake of this article. Fall air is cool and crisp, just like the types of drinks I highlighted here. Fall allows you much more variety in how you enjoy your drinks: indoors, outdoors, hot, cold, frozen, bubbling, boiling, toiling, troubling…the list goes on. And there are some really great options particularly perfect for this season that you can find all over town. I went in search of the best local drinks to imbibe in during the fall season. There is something for everybody, from canned craft beer to enjoy at home to a pretty drink a coupe cocktail glass at a bar. What makes it even better is how all these great options come from local businesses, so go out there and enjoy (responsibly) what C-U’s favorite season has to offer. Fall is here in C-U, and it’s time to enjoy some boos.
The Galloping Ghost Red | Triptych
First up is Triptych’s The Galloping Ghost Red, a hoppy red ale. I think that this one is pretty self-explanatory in terms of appropriateness for fall, but let me just go ahead and hash it out for you anyway: its name “Galloping Ghost Red” pays homage to the Fighting Illini Football legend and ales are really popular this time of year since there are delicious fruits and flavors in season that really shine in this type of beer. I snagged a 4-pack of pints of these from the Harvest Market and cracked one open on a particularly fall-y day. The sky was gray and the Galloping Ghost was as cool and crisp as the air. The blurb on the back of the can even said Triptych brewed this to be enjoyed on crisp fall days and brisk nights, and I definitely agree.
The Galloping Ghost is incredibly flavorful, full of pine, citrus, and stone fruit and balanced out by notes from the German Redx malt used to its achieve ale status. It is surprisingly fruity, but not in a summery way. The hint of pine amongst the citrus and stone fruit is oh-so delicious. The taste is crisp, even rather tart, making it a perfect beer to pair with just how Triptych recommends: with tailgates, touchdowns, and barbecue. Or, like me, you can enjoy it by itself after indulging in some nachos. Regardless of how you drink it, it’s best served cold; I couldn’t imagine enjoying it any other way. Each can is a pint, and it’s full to the brim with flavor. So bundle up, grab a koozie, and enjoy The Galloping Ghost Red some time this fall.
1703 Woodfield Dr
M-W 3 to 10 p.m.
Th + F 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sa noon to 11 p.m.
Su noon to 8 p.m.
Apple Cider Slushie | Watson’s Shack and Rail
Is it really fall if by December you haven’t drunk so much apple cider that you can practically feel it coursing through your veins? I don’t think so, so that’s why when I saw that Watson’s Shack and Rail was serving an apple cider slushie, I got down there as soon as I could. There is more than one place in C-U to find a regular ole apple cider slushie, but this particular slushie from Watson’s is of the “adult” variety. Translation: rum. Watson’s uses apple cider from Champaign’s Curtis Orchard, and wait for it…it gets better. It’s garnished with a Curtis Orchard APPLE CIDER DONUT. Yeah, that’s right. This drink uses some of my most favorite things about fall and life in general: apple cider, slushies, and donuts. I was sold.
The slushie was easily drinkable, and, at $6 per slush, I feel like I got my money’s worth, because had I sucked down another one I think I would have been asking for another slapple mider smush instead. I’m fond of Watson’s adult slushies because they’re just plain yummy and there is just something fun about an adult slushie. They also offered a PSL slushie earlier in the month and I would have loved to try it, but if you didn’t manage to try that one for yourself, either, I would definitely recommend the apple cider to fill the slush-shaped hole in your soul. It tastes like how a hard apple cider should since the cider isn’t overpowered by the rum, which is what makes the drink so dangerous. But it’s worth it. You can try Watson’s various flavors of slushies anytime, but you can only get your hands on the apple cider slush for a limited time.
211 N Neil
T-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Columbia St. Coffee Stout | Blind Pig
Next up on the docket is a beer that is just about as local as you can get: the Columbia St. Coffee Stout from Blind Pig. Two types of brew go into this rich and cozy beverage. Cold-brewed coffee from Champaign’s Columbia Street Roastery is blended with this coffee stout, which, as the bottle describes, is very dry and surprisingly refreshing. You won’t take your first sip of this and wonder where the coffee flavor is. Not a chance. It somehow manages to combine the rich and powerful, but not too powerful flavor of coffee and beer without making me feel like I’m trying to chase away a hangover. Now that I think of it, this drink would be great hair of the dog…But don’t let that deter you from enjoying it by itself on a brisk fall night.
I grabbed a six pack of these babies from Art Mart for $10, and I don’t think I’ll be letting five of them sit on the bottom shelf of my fridge until I throw them out 8 months from now. They’re crisp and bold enough to sip on after work or after a full day of carb-loading.
The Columbia St. Coffee Stout tastes like the coziest of beers, and would pair well with the Blind Pig’s low lit, wood-paneled atmosphere or at home with fuzzy slippers and a movie, which is how I enjoyed it trying it for the first time. It has a pleasant coffee flavor (there’s ¼ cup of coffee per pint) without overshadowing its stout roots. It’s pretty standard as far as typical beers go, with 5.4% alcohol per 12 ounces. I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not sure if this beer is different than others by not making me sleepy halfway through the bottle due to the coffee content, because at the time of writing this drink review I was pretty caffeinated from a late latte run. Although, I suggest finding this out for yourself because I definitely recommend this cold-brewed brew for those chilly fall nights when you’re in search for some warmth and a little more coziness.
120 N Walnut
M-Sa 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Su 3 p.m. to midnight
Blackberry Bourbon Smash | Miga
I took myself out for drinks for a second time and traveled to Miga, located in Downtown Champaign. I actually went out in search of trying a different cocktail than the one I ended up with, which was the Blackberry Bourbon Smash, but I wasn’t mad about it It’s made up of Japanese whisky, muddled lemon and blackberries, and mint. Now, you may be thinking, “Uh, blackberries? I thought this was supposed to be about fall-themed drinks?” Yeah, I know, but don’t let that featured, typically summer fruit confuse you; this cocktail is a whisky drink through and through. Also, I thought it’s lovely shade of purple was just spooky enough for this holiday season.
The Blackberry Bourbon Smash seemed to only rely on the blackberries to achieve its appealing color but really utilized the mint to balance out the concentrated amount of whisky. The cocktail is $12, so it is on the more upscale side of where to grab a drink this season. I would recommend it if you like whisky but are looking for a bit of a lighter taste — and a photogenic drink. This cocktail pairs well with one of Miga’s sushi rolls or would do well enough enjoyed on its own.
301 N Neil St
M-Sa 5-9 p.m.
Photos by Remington Rock