Imperial Oak Brewing: Celebrating Two Years of Crafting Great Beer

Imperial Oak Brewing: Celebrating Two Years of Crafting Great Beer
Photo by Mathew Powers

Imperial Oak Brewing in Willow Springs, Il is about to celebrate two years of brewing. A small-batch brewery, they provide beer drinkers with new surprises almost every week or two. In fact, one of the best parts of going to Imperial Oak is checking out the website prior to visiting, or scanning the large chalk board when you get there... “What do they have now?” Well, the answer to that question this weekend takes an entire blog post - special brews and deals (and swag!) o' plenty! Mostly, though, it's the "Return of the Giant!"

Imperial Oak Brewing 2 Year Anniversary Banner

Photo Credit: Imperial Oak Brewing via Instagram

I first visited Imperial Oak Brewing a few months after they opened, in November 2014. Not only were they new, I was just starting my beer-writing career. As such, I wrote a review for Imperial Oak Brewing on BeerAdvocate.com, noting my experience. Before I get to that, let’s discuss the awesome shindig Imperial Oak Brewing has planned this weekend (Fri and Sat, June 3-4).

Note: All bottle sales, merchandise, outdoor beer sales, and Barrel Age sales - Friday and Saturday are CASH ONLY.

-- FRIDAY --

Food Truck: Gino’s Steak & Pierogi Wagon Food Truck

 

On Tap

  • Quiet Giant- Chocolate/Coconut Imperial Stout- 14% (also on Nitro)
  • Savage Oak Gold- Barrel Aged Sour Blond- 6.5%
  • Savage Oak Ruby- Barrel Aged Sour Red- 8%
  • Head Lite- Golden Cream Ale- 5%
  • Crank It Hop- Nelson/Kohatu IPA- 6%
  • Crank It Dank- West Coast IPA- 7%
  • Blurry Blond- Belgian Blond Ale- 5.8%
  • Frankenstein's Daughter- Hoppy Saison- 7.5%
  • Prediction?...Pain!- Imperial IPA- 8.5%
  • Little Lion- Hallertau Blanc Pils- 5.5%
  • Dunkelschizer- Dunkelweizen- 5.8%

 

-- Saturday -- 

Food Trucks

(Afternoon) Burger Antics, Yum Dum, Pierogi Wagon and

(Evening) Roaming Hog, Toasty Cheese, Cookout on Wheels.

 

Special Release (Cash Only)

$15 - Quiet Giant | $20 - Barrel-Aged Quiet Giant 

 $50 - Combo Pack Available (1 Barrel-Aged, 2 Regular and a commemorative glass)

 

Taproom and Outside Bar (Outside is Cash only!)

  • Quiet Giant- Chocolate/Coconut Imperial Stout- 14% (also on Nitro)
  • Head Lite- Golden Cream Ale- 5%
  • Crank It Hop- Nelson/Kohatu IPA- 6%
  • Crank It Dank- West Coast IPA- 7%
  • Blurry Blond- Belgian Blond Ale- 5.8%
  • Frankenstein's Daughter- Hoppy Saison- 7.5%
  • Prediction?...Pain!- Imperial IPA- 8.5%
  • Little Lion- Hallertau Blanc Pils- 5.5%

Outside Only (Cash Only!)

  • Dunkelschizer- Dunkelweizen- 5.8%
  • Mojito Buzz- Lime/Mint Honey Ale- 5.5% (1 keg only)
  • Fruity Blond- Watermelon/Blueberry Belgian Blond- 5.8% (1 keg only)
  • Tropical Lion- Passion Fruit/Mango/Kiwi Pils- 5.5% (1 keg only)
  • Double Dry Hopped Pain- Amarillo Dry Hopped IIPA- 8.5% (1 keg only)

Barrel Aged Tent Schedule (CASH ONLY)

  • 12 PM: Bourbon BA Quiet Giant- 14%, Savage Oak Gold- BA Wild Blond- 6.5%, and Savage Oak Ruby-BA Sour Red- 8%
  • 1 pm: Wee Willie's Heavy- Bourbon BA Strong Scotch Ale- 9%
  • 2 pm: Billy Dee's Bourbon BA Coconut Pecan Porter- 6.5%
  • 3 pm: Dark Abbey- Bourbon BA Belgian Stout- 9%
  • 4 pm: Ragnarok- Bourbon BA Baltic Porter- 8.5%
  • 5 pm: Down Town Bourbon BA Cherry Sour Brown- 6.5%
  • 6 pm: Double Dee's- Bourbon BA Imperial Porter- 9%
  • 7 pm: Beermuda Triangle- Tequila BA Belgian Tripel- 9%
  • 8 pm: Udder Madness- Bourbon BA Imperial Milk Stout- 10%

Merchandise Tent (CASH ONLY)

  • Commemorative 6 oz snifter, T-Shirts (including a Quiet Giant shirt), hoodies, work shirts, trucker hats, crowler koozies and more!

 Retro Arcade

  • Dome Hockey, Pinball, Pac Man, NBA Jam, Galaga, and much more!

 

It's almost amazing to me that they have grown to be able to host such a cool event. Two years ago, after my first visit to Imperial Oak Brewing, I wrote this for aforementioned review on BeerAdvocate.com:

Tucked away in a little industrial corner of Willow Springs, Illinois, one will not likely stumble upon this brewery without prior knowledge of its whereabouts. Parking is a little tricky, but you can also arrive via the adjacent bike trail, if you so desire. In fact, understanding that this location would never pass a Business-101 test speaks volumes about the quality of the products provided. This brewery epitomizes the craft brew movement – the beer is the star of the show.
 
On a warm Wednesday in early November, quite a few patrons already had their glasses filled when I walked in 3:15 pm, 15 minutes after they opened. The pub is essentially a long, but spacious, rectangle, highlighted by a huge chalkboard that separates the brewing room and the bar. Plenty of tables, a long bar, and abundant walking-space provide ample room to talk, walk, and engage in conversation. By 7 pm, the place was jumping. With the industrial garage door open and the mild air pouring in, the lively atmosphere only added to the quality of the beer. The fact that so many customers filled the place on a Wednesday is testament to quality of Imperial Oak Brewing.
 
Emma, my bartender, proved exceedingly knowledgeable about the beer, answered any questions I, or others, raised, and provided great conversation and plenty of laughs. Another well-informed and quite amusing bartender arrived later in the evening (Michelle? I sincerely apologize for forgetting her name). Meanwhile, Grant – the brewmaster – engaged in great conversation with me about their brewing process. He clearly seemed proud of the brewery without being cocky – a beer geek doing what he loves. He even provided me with a few tasters of guest brews; the essence of craft beer enthusiasm. In the end, everyone on staff demonstrated down to earth attitudes and aided in the fun of the night. In addition, the entire staff showed patience and a welcoming nature to beer novices; one did not need to be a beer geek to enjoy this place. In fact, one can partake in a 32 oz. PBR, but do not be surprised if it is served in a brown paper bag – good-natured fun at its finest (and the customer smiled and enjoyed the fun of it).
 
An impressive rotation of beers exists at Imperial Oak, with new brews readily available each week. I particularly enjoyed the Mango Saison, the Double IPA, the American Stout, and the Vanilla Bean Imperial Stout. The Vanilla IPA proved to be the best beer in which I have ever (no kidding – ever) indulged while finishing a flight. The prominent vanilla flavor evoked images of having a root beer float, but far better, obviously. The milky smooth texture and traditional stout taste mixed with that vanilla is unique and worth every penny. I don’t want to review each beer on this post, but I am not lying when I say that of the eight beers I tasted in my flight, I loved five of them and thoroughly enjoyed the other three. I’m a picky beer drinker, but they won me over with their selections. Keep in mind, though, the beers rotate frequently, so I’ll have to do the difficult job of going again and again and again until I’m sure they are all good. It’s a tough job…..
 
Many of the beers incorporate high percentages of alcohol, so one may want to take advantage of their “bring your own snacks,” allowance (they have chips for purchase, too). You can kick back, eat your snacks, enjoy the two large TVs, listen to the good variety of music, chat with friendly patrons, and otherwise have a terrific experience.

A lot has changed in two years at Imperial Oak Brewing. The place is even better now. There's more barrel-aging. More ways to bring home the beer. More seating, More patio tables outside. More selection. The only thing that hasn't changed is the friendliness, the fun, and the incredibly great beer.

Happy Two Years, Imperial Oak Brewing!

Imperial Oak Brewing

Photo by Mathew Powers

 

 

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    Beer and spirits writer for Chilled Magazine, PorchDrinking.com, Thrillist-Chicago, and Sommbeer.com. I love great beer, great stories, and community. In addition to drinking beer, I have a background that involves weather, the environment, history, and of course writing. I love cars, rock music, comedy, traveling, camping, and all things Simpsons.

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