The biggest craft brewery in Illinois is also one of the Land of Lincoln's best-kept-secrets. Producing roughly 70,000 barrels in 2015 (up from a mere 8,000 in 2012), Revolution Brewing is one of the fastest growing breweries in the nation. Nevertheless, the reach of its beer remains largely confined in-state. But don't expect the exclusivity to last; after all, once a revolution gains momentum, it's hard to suppress.
The sprightly, young Revolution began in 2010, as the culmination of fifteen years of effort from intimidatingly-named founder Josh Deth. Deth worked his way up from cleaning tanks for the now-defunct Golden Prairie Brewing in 1995 to head of one of today's best craft beer success stories. And to what does Deth's Revolution owe this unprecedented? In three words: damn good beer.
6.5% ABV | 65 IBU
Local-Hero's name is a two-part reference: to Revolution's flagship Anti-Hero IPA—which Local-Hero revamps and intensifies—and to the local ingredients which flavor it. Michigan's Hop Head Farms is given a shoutout on the beer's triumphant, propagandistic label for their contributions of Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, and Nugget hops.
Our hero pours a pale sunflower gold, looking every bit the commercial photoshoot beer. The nose is much less prosaic, with a wash of citrus and tangerine hoppiness punctuated by faint but discernible funk one taster described as almost "garlic-y". Flavor diverges from nose, with a vibrant, fruity hop profile spanning from pineapple to grapefruit to mango. A strong bitterness launches this beer out of the gate, but it finishes at a more relaxed pace, with a sticky, lip-smacking wheatiness and a lingering herbal aftertaste. The hop-headed farmer on the bottle could not be more spot-on: this beer is a deliciously bitter salad of fruity and vegetal flavors, grown and brewed with undeniable care.
8.0% ABV | 90 IBU
This heavyweight ale clocks in at a bruising 90 IBUs, so one might expect that Double Fist would blow the less-hopped Local-Hero out of the water when the two are tasted side by side. Yet the opposite proved true. Double Fist does justice to the underdone genre of the Double Pale Ale with its extraordinary hop-malt balancing act that would make a tightrope walker jealous.
An auburn brew with a buttery yellow head, Double Fist smells of sweet syrup and stone fruit, with a musty, grassy air. The first sip brings as many waves of caramel, biscuit, and honey as it does pine, grapefruit, and lemon zest. Perhaps this dual hop-malt assault is what earned this beer its name. The intensity of the hop bitterness is there, but it is candy-coated bitterness, wrapped up in a viscous, chewy, malt-forward body that rewards as it challenges.
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