Today I embarked on a great journey. A journey full of scenery, food, and most importantly: craft beer! I’ve always been a travel write buried deep inside the body of a beer writer, and now I get to combine those two passions for a book about the breweries of Historic Route 66. In a way, Route 66 and the current craft beer movement go hand-in-hand, since there’s currently a throwback culture of people who are rediscovering America’s “Mother Road,” which is similar to the way that we’re currently rediscovering the pre-Prohibition days of American beer where every town had a butcher, a baker, and yes…a brewery.
Today’s trip started in Joliet, Illinois, which gained fame as the temporary residence of John Belishi’s Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers. When the book is eventually finished, I plan on including breweries in the Chicagoland area, but since I have family in Chicago, I can do those at a later date. Eager to get on the Road, we started traipsing down Route 66 in Joliet.
The brewery scene isn’t particularly vibrant between Chicago and St. Louis, but there is one notable stop along the way: DESTIHL Brewery in Normal/Bloomington, Illinois. Matt Potts, the founder of DESTIHL was kind enough to spend an hour or so showing me around their one-year-old production brewery, pulled beer for me fresh from the barrel, and sat down with me for about a half hour while we chatted about his story, and where he hopes to go. As a bonus, today was the first-ever run of cans for their Here Gose Nothin’ Leipzig-style Gose beer. This will be available year-round through their normal distribution channels, which are growing by the month. Potts also clued me in to some of their future plans for bottling some really big beers, including an imperial stout that they aged in a Cognac foeder for just over a year, which they plan to start bottling shortly. As a nice parting gift, Potts even let me go with three of the first-ever cans of Here Gose Nothin’ to come off of the canning line…SCORE!
That’s all for today, on to St. Louis tomorrow where I have interviews scheduled with people at 4 Hand Brewing, Urban Chestnut, Civil Life, Schlafly and Perennial Artisan Ales.