Imperial Oak, Willow Springs, IL, is set back from the busy avenue with a newly expanded outdoor seating area. It’s a German themed half warehouse-half storefront that is easily accessible. The brewery has great parking even on a Saturday afternoon and tends to have a crowd that is mostly local folks and beer aficionados It has chill, easy going ambiance with a food truck when available.
Gin Barrel Aged Straw Aged saison, 6% 29ibu
The Fermentor: This is one of those beers that you either passionately love or feel completely misses the mark. It’s delightfully carbonated falls, but flat because of a strong whiskey overtone… Yes, not a gin overtone, but whiskey… I don’t do whiskey so big surprise, I did not enjoy this at all. 1.5
Demonwitch: I thought this saison had a good sour taste without shocking your tastebuds and nice carbonation. The aftertaste put off a burn just like a hard liquor. It wasn’t my thing either.
Blanc foeder aged Brett Berliner 4.5%
The Fermentor: I love, love, love sours and BWs. However, this BW had an overwhelming taste of green apple that leaned heavily toward apple cider vinegar flavors. If it were highly carbonated, it would feel lighter and easier to drink but because it was so lightly carbonated, it was a bit much. 3
Demonwitch: I thought this was super tart, almost citrusy but punching. The sour notes were just too overwhelming. 2
Prediction? Pain! Imperial IPA 8.5 85ibu
The Fermentor: This IPA was mildly bitter and almost smokey. IPA’s are not my typical fav, but this one was so complex that I really loved it. 3.5
Demonwitch: This was a nice IPA that was bitter and almost nutty. It was decently carbonated but didn’t hide its decent ABV. 3.5
Brothers keeper imperial honey saison 9.5 34 ibu
The Fermentor: This honey focused saison was a real easy drinker.
I’m talking dangerously so with a non-detectable 9.5 ABV.
It was smooth, even keeled nothing, but nothing that really warranted writing home about.
Demonwitch: I really enjoyed this saison. It was super refreshing.
Imagine a Pilsner and an IPA having a baby, but dang, the ABV is sneaky.
Crank It Hype- New England Style IPA- 7% ABV, 25 IBU- 16 oz
Demonwitch: This NEIPA was very floral and well balanced. It had a clean hoppy peak and slightly bitter finish. Take a sip and close your eyes.
I guarantee you can taste the golden fields.
The Fermentor:On this hot, humid day, this fresh NEIPA hit the spot. The aroma was pretty skunky but the flavor was super clean with great hoppy notes right out front. Better yet on a hot day, the aftertaste did not linger at all.
Cherry Gold- Lambic Inspired Sour Golden Ale- 7.5% ABV- 11 oz
Demonwitch: Real sour and flavorful, great body and intense color. If you like sour beers, this is fantastic and refreshing.
The Fermentor: Yes, absolutely, yes you should try this if you even remotely enjoy a sour. This Sour Golden Ale was deep and round in body with sour flavor that had no hints of vinegar. It was just full to the brim of tart cherry flavor. Think Lagunitas sour cherry beer on steroids.
Tropical Hype- Kiwi/Lime New England IPA- 8% ABV, 25 IBU
The Fermentor: strong hoppy, weed leaning aroma and first flavor, but just like a lot of imperial oak beers, the aftertaste clears quickly leaving it fresh and great for a hot, sunny day. I can’t say I pick up and of the kiwi but the limé certainly comes through making this also extremely well balanced.
Demonwitch: crazy combination but one THat works very nice, the flavor is full and nuanced although had a higher tongue coating effect. The hops and the tartness are very well balance creating a very crisp lip smacking peak
Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Blanc- Foeder/Barrel Aged Brett Berliner Weisse- 4.5% ABV
The Fermentor: I love red wine and a BW so this brew is right in line with my favorites. Sometimes that can set you up for a huge let down but this brew is tart, fresh, just slightly bitter in the end notes and just so well balanced. Definitely don’t sleep on the opportunity to try this one.
Demonwitch: tasty, super sour, and refreshing, this really drives the line in between a beer or a wine cooler, and I’m ok with it.