Church Street Brewing Company isn't focused on big IPAs or stouts. Instead, Church Street brews beers that are drinkable, clean and simple. This isn't Germany with delicious drinkable lagers but it isn't too far off either. The taproom chalkboard is littered with maibocks, helles and lagers—nary a stout or a sour in sight. If Germany has been brewing these beers this way for almost a millenium the beers should be good enough for us as well. If you are looking for DIPAs, TRIPAs and most other big ales, you won't find many here; however, you will find a mom and pop (literally run by a mom and pop) brewery that makes good beer.
The location is split evenly between a taproom, a brewery and an office space, which might be the perfect combination for a midsize brewery. If a brewery has too much space it runs the risk of expanding without a market share. But if the brewery doesn't have enough space, its output cannot match demand. Church Street has a happy medium. Add crisp lagers, affable customers and welcoming employees and you have a brewery that understands you don't need to barrel age every beer or load it with hops to have high quality beers.
Staff bends over backwards to make every patron, whether it’s a first-time visitor or regular, feel welcome. One bartender passed out samples of a recent homebrew that was brought into the brewery for all of the customers to taste. A different bartender even gave an impromptu tour of the facility. Everyone was lending a helping hand, a listening ear or a sample of a beer, depending on your need. Is this place idyllic? Of course not, but they offer good, reasonably priced beer without any of the pretentiousness found at some other breweries.
I had wanted to stop at Church Street for a few months and even joked about it on Twitter with the brewery. And after finally stopping by, I’m glad I made the trip. Sometimes we need to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. I have a challenge for the beer drinker reading this: Instead of visiting the same brewery or drinking the same Corona, try something new and share your experience with Beertasteslike. Let us know if your adventure turned out as satisfying as mine.
Church Street Brewing Company (Itasca, Illinois)
FOOD, AMBIANCE & SERVICE: 3/5
Small taproom with limited seating and no food options. The rest of the brewery equipment, office, storage, and so forth is partitioned from the taproom.
There’s a reason the Chicago Tribune named it the best lager in Chicago. If you’re a Miller/Budweiser drinker, try this next time. The flavor that comes from a simple recipe will surprise you.
A distinctly German beer with a cleanness of light hops and heavy doses of caramel. If you are dancing around the maypole, hoist one of these in your stein.
Belgian Strong Ale
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. It featured Belgian spice with little booziness detected, which is astonishing considering it is 8.8% ABV.