Another day, another brewery opening in Central Illinois, but Triptych Brewing has set its sights a little higher than most. Unlike brewpub locations like Obed & Isaac’s in Springfield or Destihl in Bloomington and Champaign, Triptych aspires to become a full-on “production brewery.” This means you would eventually be able to purchase bottles (or cans) of their beer at the liquor store, or get it on draft at local restaurants and bars. When this happens, they’ll be only the second production brewery in Central Illinois after Springfield’s Rolling Meadows, and certainly an easier one to visit than RM, which is actually located in the tiny farm town of Cantrall, some miles north of Springfield.
For now, though, distribution will have to wait. Triptych opened to the public a few weeks ago in the format of a “tasting room,” which essentially means “a bar without a kitchen.” You can visit at 1703 Woodfield Drive in Savoy, just off Neil St. and only a half mile or so from the Friar Tuck’s Beverage where the brewery’s beer will some day be sold, fresh as fresh can be.
You may remember me previously writing about Triptych as one of a number of breweries that were exploring Kickstarter as a method for raising start-up funding. They surpassed their goal of $20,000 without too much trouble, all the more impressive considering there were only 209 total funders. I personally chipped in enough to eventually get my name on the plaque of Kickstarter funders that they will eventually be installing on their tasting room wall.
The thing that really stands out about the place, though, is their choices in beers to brew. As of a few days ago, three of their eight taps were “session” beers of only 3 percent alcohol by volume. Having just one beer that light in alcohol is an oddity, but three is almost unheard of. By crafting flavorful, low-alcohol options, Triptych intends to make a name for itself by focusing on well-made, unambiguous beer. You could say that they’re part of a national movement on this — session beer is all the rage these days as breweries rein themselves in a bit from the previous extreme phase and explore consumer desires. As it turns out, sometimes even beer geeks want to be able to drink multiple pints of 3 percent ABV golden ale instead of one pint of 9 percent ABV imperial stout.
I personally think it’s a good philosophy around which to base a brewery, especially in central Illinois. And this isn’t to say they’re not doing some more inventive stuff as well — they also have a chocolate cherry stout and an imperial IPA on tap currently. They’re even bourbon barrel-aging a few selections, including a 3 percent ABV English mild, which might well be the lowest-alcohol bourbon-aged beer I’ve ever heard of.
You can find all this information on the rather skimpy website, but it has what you need to know (address, hours, what’s on tap). More detailed information on each upcoming beer release can be had from the Facebook account. () Next time you’re over in Champaign and have a free minute, stop by and check them out.
And as always in articles like this, I must call out the glaring omission that Decatur has no breweries of its own. This is completely unacceptable. The current tallies for Central Illinois stand at:
Champaign-Urbana: 3 (including Triptych)
Can someone, for the love of God, start planning a brewery opening in this city? I promise there would be a market.
What do you think, sirs? Are you ready for a Decatur brewery?