Smile Politely

Blind Pig Brewery impresses

Tired of watered down drinks and Top 40 blasting your eardrums? Not the martini type? Faced with these problems, some friends and I mutually agreed on a place, The Blind Pig Brewery.

None of us had been there, and it’s from the same owner as the original Blind Pig, so we thought, why not try it out? Upon entering one notices the same Old World pub ambiance as the original, in a much more petite space. The dark glow and wood setting leaves you expecting to see a drunken Irishman sitting at the bar, but alas, no such sight was to be had. Also of note is the patio out back. Encompassing as much space as the interior and more inviting for a group setting, it is a nice advantage over its predecessor.

Now for what one actually goes to the bar for: beer! Pleasing to see, the BPB offers the same menu as the original. Sporting 111 beers, it is by far the most encompassing offering in the downstate area. From seven classifications of ale, to stouts, porters, and ciders (this author’s favorite) there is definitely something for every palate. The cider worth especially mentioning is the Samuel Smith Organic Cider. Having tried many of the ciders out there, including the delicious Woodchuck ciders (which BPB also carries), it can honestly be said that this is one of the best ones that you can buy. BPB is also the only Champaign bar that carries it. At $7 a double-size bottle, it may be a little pricey, but it is definitely worth a try. The list prices for the other beers range from $2.75 to $20. They vary by style and rarity but are on par with any other bar downtown.

The tap offers 14 draughts. Ten of these are dedicated, and highly varied. The other four are what sets this bar apart from any other in the area. One thing neglected earlier is the presence of two huge tanks on each side of the bar, almost awe inspiring. This is where the brewery part comes into play. In these behemoths is where The Blind Pig Brewery is going to be brewing their very own beer. At the time of visit they had yet to start but that was a result of awaiting a permit that is on its way, just has to clear some government red tape. No fear though, after a few delicious ciders (again I highly recommend these) I was determined to learn about this brewing hoop-la.

In these four cylindrical giants, they initially intend to brew their own bitter, I.P.A., lambic, and imperial stout but are leaving room for seasonal and special editions in the future. Well who exactly is brewing them you ask? Don’t worry, I asked that too. Back in the day when Joe’s Brewery was an actual brewery, a man named Bill Morgan oversaw the operation. After a subsequent move to Cleveland and another to work for Goldennoble (a large scale Japanese brewer), Bill decided to get his Ph.D. from the U of I. This is where he was snatched up by the BPB and asked to make the best brews money can buy, but offered to the customer at a nice price. Keep in mind, the brews are expected to be ready by Independence Day.

One final note is the service. As much as this is a recommendation for you to check out, it is kudos to the people that work there. The bartenders there are by far the most knowledgeable and astute people you will meet when it pertains to beer. With thanks to my friend and his inquisitive nature, we found out why this is. The bartenders are required to do their homework, literally, and constantly keep up on what is happening in the beer world. If nothing else it can be a guilty pleasure to try and stump them but I don’t recommend this, you will just come away disappointed in yourself for trying to match wits with such an adversary.

With friendly clientele, an atmosphere to match, and a parent which ranks among the top 100 bars in the United States, the Blind Pig Brewery is bound to be a big hit. With that, it is my pleasure to give this place my recommendation. Take a date or take a group of friends but get down to the only brewery this area has to offer.

The Blind Pig Brewery is open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. It is located at 120 N. Neil Street, in the old Barfly Building.

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