Rating: 4.00
Locations: Downers Grove and St Charles IL
Founded: 2015
Last visited: February 2022

The Downers Grove location is a taproom only, a large garage space with concrete and exposed pipes, and the brewing operation in full view. There’s a long modern grey bar and multiple tables for groups. Your eyes are drawn to the huge wooden panels on the front wall, splashes of color from orange accent walls, and pendant lights over the bar, giving it a more upscale feel. Two flat screen TVs are available for any sports fans.

They had 11 beers on tap. Below are a few that we sampled during two separate visits.

In St Charles, Alter has a full kitchen and brewery operation. Located right on the Fox River, the outdoor area is a terrific and vibrant space. The bar area inside is spacious and full of long tables and TVs.

Day Sipper (4.25) – Full bodied German style pilsner; hint of hop bitterness in the finish; a beer made for the “professional”

Props American Lager (2.50) – Super light bodied; almost no hop character; American lager as advertised

Strategy Shift Milkshake IPA (4.50) – Highly complex flavor profile; malty, fruity bouquet, fruity flavors; hop bitterness balanced with excellence.

Heavy Squeeze (3.75) – Light bodied ale with loads of lemon flavor upfront; ABV of 6.2% is imperceptible; nice summertime beer.

King Balaton (4.00) – Light refreshing fruit beer; cherry character is “just right,” and doesn’t dominate; very easy to drink a lot of this beer.

Center Line Golden Ale (3.75) – Medium with a sweet aftertaste; minimal hop bitterness; light and refreshing.

Hopular Kid Pale Ale (3.50) – Wonderful pale ale that melds hop bitterness and citrus notes.

Dan’s Brown Ale (4.25) – Big and malty, roasted flavors abound; caramel aftertaste; excellent example of style,

After Party Nitro Milk Stout (2.25) – We were looking forward to trying this one after the previous samples, but found it disappointing; far too thin to be a truly worthy stout.

Tripel (4.50) – Classic Belgian tripel; 9.2% ABV cleverly masked by complex malt character.

Foeder Pilsner (3.75) – Medium-bodied lager; bright and crisp, appropriately hopped; hint of citrus in aftertaste.

Festbier (4.50) – Big beer, malt bill fully utilized; malty sweetness is its defining characteristic; excellent example of style.

Heavy Squeeze Unfiltered Lemon Wheat Ale (3.00) – Super light citrus ale; perfect lawnmower beer; slight hint of hop bitterness.

Alto Porto Robust Porter (4.50) – Full-bodied, brimming with roasted flavor; a big beer, loaded with dark malts; outstanding example of style.

Swedda Wedda Oatmeal Stout (4.75) – Bold, roasted flavors dominate; profound malt character; a tremendous Stout.

Second Dimension Belgian Dubbel (4.25) – Smooth, full-bodied Belgian ale; appropriately fruity and malty and nicely balanced; good for a slow sip on a long afternoon.

Smokey the Bier Smoked Altbier (4.50) – Deep amber beer whose smoked malt aspects are subtle, rather than overpowering. Big, full malt flavor appropriate for style. Hop bitterness properly balanced. Smooth and highly drinkable.

Smash Tun Barrel Aged Stout (5.00) – Massive roasted, malty character. Hints of caramel. Coffee and chocolate notes evident in the finish. 12% ABV alcohol well hidden. Superlative smoothness.

Bock from the Foeder Doppelbock (4.25) – Big and malty Doppelbock. Aging in an oak foeder has a big impact on the flavor profile. Roasted aspects somewhat diminished as a result. 8.5% ABV comes through clearly.

Power Off Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout (5.00) – Bold, malty, powerful stout. 13% ABV expertly concealed within a complex flavor profile. Cinnamon and chocolate character dominates palate. Magnificent example of a beer enhanced, but not overpowered, by barrel aging.

Biscuit Wheels Helles (4.00) – Big, malty lager. Tinge of hop bitterness balances malt sweetness. Massively drinkable.

Shed End ESB (3.75) – Copper colored English Ale. Malt character dominates. Caramel malt a big player in flavor profile. Sweet toffee notes missing, however. A bigger dose of roasted malt would help this beer.

Mutual Confection Imperial Stout (4.75) – Creamy stout, with clear notes of strawberries and vanilla. Easy and smooth to drink. 10% ABV barely noticeable. A great example of a big beer that does not overpower the palate.

A Wit Much Hoppy Witbier (4.00) – Interesting take on a classic Belgian style, no orange peel or coriander. Beer has plenty of fruity character anyway. Malt sweetness an important aspect. Smooth, crisp and drinkable.

No food served in the Downers Grove taproom. The St Charles location is a full restaurant.

Downers Grove: Mon-Thu 3-10, Fri-Sat 12-11, Sun 12-7.

Alter Brewing Co

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