Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Carlyle Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Carlyle Brewing Co.Carlyle Brewing Co.
Based on:
12 Beers
72 Hads
Place Score: 91
Reviews: 25
Visits: 38
Avg: 4.11
pDev: n/a
Taps: 12
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

215 E State St
Rockford, Illinois, 61104-1010
United States
phone: (815) 963-2739

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Place added by: Dogbrick

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 25 | Visits: 38
Reviews by Yetiman420:
Photo of Yetiman420
4.94/5  rDev +20.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Stop #354 on my world brewery tour.

Located in what appears to be a slowly gentrifying area of historic downtown Rockford next to a chocolate shop and running store. Lots of people riding by on their bikes but not for exercise. Old building with a good view of the brewing operation.

I went with two sampler flights and a full pint. From a style execution standpoint, these beers were as good as I've ever had. If you've ever been turned off by a bad Helles lager or cream ale, Carlyle will make you a believer in great session beers. A couple of comments where appropriate on the beers I had....

Flight one
Pale Ale - wonderful crystal malt balance.
Vanilla Cream - Fantastic! "Fresh vanilla," I'm brewing one next summer.

Flight Two
Honey Ale - The least desirable of the beers I had. Still ok
Humulus IPA (full pint) - Beautiful IPA with full flavor
Irish Red - Testament to great malt balance
Stout - Wonderfully roasty and complex

The only beer I didn't sample was the Quad as I was driving and didn't want to overdo it.

I didn't have any of the food but it seemed more like snack food than what you might have for dinner (not a lot of options). Service was friendly and proactive...lots of older locals enjoying themselves at the bar.

Highly recommend for the beer and historical ambiance.

 1,336 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of pkeating59
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Photo of LanePerson
3.94/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Photo of CSO
4.07/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

Photo of andywelp
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Photo of italianstallion
3.44/5  rDev -16.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.25

Photo of sonicbloom
5/5  rDev +21.7%

Photo of C_Y
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of stouts4me
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of mr8073
5/5  rDev +21.7%

Photo of Tconder
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%

Photo of Piske41
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of foretheloveofbeer
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of smmeier819
3.4/5  rDev -17.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.25 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

Bring back that damn pizza already! To fill out the obligatory character requirement...pizza pizza pizza, now now now! Crud, I'm still about 130 characters short...how bout now? Nope, still not enough. Well, to make a long story short...beer goes great with food. The only thing worth eating here was the pizza, and they got rid of it. I wish they would bring it back...that's got to be enough letters and punctuation for sure.

 427 characters

Photo of DOCRW
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%

Photo of KFBR392
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.25 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.25

Atmosphere: A very relaxed and easy going atmosphere, even on some nights where it is packed with people. Shuffle board, darts, and billiards are all available to the patrons. A couple different seating areas which easily accommodate a large group or yourself and a date is very nice. No doubt a fun relaxing place to have a few beers.

Quality: The quality of the beer is good but nothing great. All of their beers seem to have the same piny hop character. Not sure what specific hops they are using but it runs throughout their whole line. Its not an offensive flavor but lacks diversity. That being said though, I will no doubt take their brews over all of the usual places to go in Rockford.

Service: No real problems here, but nothing that ever blew me away. There was always a waiter/waitress in close range to get ahold of. Servers were always pleasant, even on busy nights which is always appreciated.

Food: Perfect beer drinking pizza! Very thin crust with many different toppings available. They also have some traditional snacks like salted pretzels which is a favorite of my girlfriend. Definitely have something to tide that appetite during a long evening of drinking.

Overall: A great place to go and I highly recommend it to anyone passing through/in the Rockford area. Good beer and some very solid food. Just switch up those hops every once in a while and we would really be in business!

 1,409 characters

Photo of Lemke10
3.76/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

My wife and I dropped by in December 2012 before heading off to see a show at the BMO Harris Center that is located just a block away. Located in the downtown older part of Rockford, this is a fairly decent sized place as there is kind of a hidden part to the building. On a Saturday night this place was hopping. We weren’t offered any kind of seating so we took it as a “seat yourself” kind of place. The food menu is pretty basic brewpub food, just something that pairs well with beer. Staff was nice and the beers were average to above average quality wise. A nice little place I would be interesting in visiting again. However their website could really use some help. No food menu and talk about weird hours opening at 3pm most days. Closed on Sundays? That wouldn’t fly in Wisconsin! More hours and a more appealing lunch/dinner menu would greatly help this place.

 879 characters

Photo of SpdKilz
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Came here with my brother-in-law and my sister.

Walked in on a Saturday night at about six and there were already quite a few people there. We were only going to stay for a bit so we took some seats at the bar. The vibe was quite nice and the bartender helped us out immediately. The place was very cool looking with some stone work and overall just a very well done bar. The bartender was quite attentive the entire time and helped us with any questions we had. My brother-in-law and I ordered a beer each and then some tasters while my sister just had the Vanilla Cream Ale (which I admit was not the best – vanilla seemed pretty artificial). Their saison stood out to me and I actually got a second glass of it. There was a good selection of house taps and the tasters allowed us to try quite a few beers which was nice. We did not get food here but the prices/selection seemed on par with what you’d expect. Overall, an enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to come back here again.

 993 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Very clean and nice place for a beer. Excellant bar food, the pizza is my favorite. Vanilla Ale and Stout are stables and every now and again, they have a tastey BIG BEER too fron thier specialty list! The rootbeer is amazing also, they make it in house. One of the first bars I would go to on a regular basis when I first started to like craft brewski! Still is a favorite. Its easy to spend money in that place. They have a shuffle board in the back along with bumper pool. This place is always packed on the weekends.

 520 characters

Photo of phartzog
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

One of my favorites. Especially since this is about the ONLY place my wife will drink beer- She's a martini gal but at Carlyle, she will drink the Vanilla, Stout or a Stanilla and occasionally a "Juan More" Mexican style lager.

The owner did a great job of rehabbing an old building into a very cozy and inviting place to drink a few pints. The atmosphere is pub-like and is geared toward conversation. No blaring music, no scantily clad bubble-breasted bimbo servers, no TVs, just blues or sometimes jazz piped in softly as background music. The tables are rustic and low and the floor is made of stone tile complemented by bare brick walls and an impressive wooden bar. The crowd is a bit older and is very friendly and eager to talk beer.

One of my favorite touches is the chalkboard beer menu. It adds to the mystique of the rotating beer menu and every time I go, the first place I look is at the board to see what new malty or hoppy goodness awaits or to see which old friends have returned.

The beer quality is excellent and has far outpaced my original expectations. I have only had a couple beers I disliked and I tried them despite not liking the beer style to begin with. Friends confirm my suspicion that the beer is good and I am simply not a fan of Stouts or most Hefeweizens.

I hate to ding them for anything but here goes. Service tends to be slow. I am not a stickler for fast service so it doesn't bug me but I have gone with friends who are absolutely beside themselves when the server hasn't arrived just as they finish their last drop. On the plus side, servers are very knowledgeable and friendly.

Food- Food is secondary at Carlyle because it is not intended to be a restaurant. If you want a snack it does the trick but don't expect a gourmet meal. The pizzas are good but not great and they removed my favorite- Braunschweiger & Onion sandwich from their already limited menu. Go for the beer. Not the food.

Conclusion: Overall a fun and tasty place!

 2,005 characters

Photo of Nurb
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

For the last several years I've been visiting Carlyle Brewing Company in Rockford, and in my opinion, it's the best as far as atmosphere and beer is concerned for the city and for the entire area surrounding.

For astmosphere, I like the fact there are no TV's or sports related items nailed to the walls competing for your attention. There are enough sports bars in the Rockford area, so a more simple brewpub setting where you can talk to friends over a drink is a very nice change from chain franchises and hole-in-the-wall dives that overfill the city. They also have a selection of games behind the bar, which I find amusing. They have also recently expanded into the next building, which used to be a strip club, and into the area behind the building, now made into a beer garden.

When it comes to the beer, the selection is fantastic and frequently changing thanks to the owner, who likes to experiment and try different traditional and newer styles. The beer selection ranges from smooth and heavy, stouts to crisp ales, to high ABV IPAs, and everything in between. They will also feature seasonal beers through the year, and often will be different from the previous years themselves. One thing to note however; with the exception of some beer styles, Carlyle's does not over-hop their beer out of style or balance like many microbrews like to do. I've heard many a Hop-Head comment on the lack of hops punching them in the mouth, but they do have very hoppy beers to choose from, even though they aren't the bulk of their choices.

Despite everything, there isn't one beer they've produced I have felt was of low quality, bad, or "wrong" in taste, and I am a bit of a beer geek, even if I try not to be.

When it comes to the food and service, both are adequet, but the focus is all on the beer. The food menu is about par for the course when it comes to bar food, but their sandwiches and tortilla crust pizza are very good. The service can be hit or miss depending on the day, time, and the staff on hand. Some days it's busy but they'll always be around, and some days you'll wait an hour for food service. However, in either case, the staff is always friendly in my experience.

Overall, I'd have to say this is one of the only gems in the rotting hole that is Rockford.

 2,286 characters

Photo of Mandark
3.93/5  rDev -4.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped in with my wife and four year old daughter for dinner and a sample of their brews on 4/7/10.

First, I love the fact there is no television anywhere. This alone is enough to make me want to give it a 5 all around. Too many bars with too many TVs in this world, dadgummit. Anyway, there's a great large window in front from which to see the cool older buildings across the way, and the Rock River just down the road a piece. Ceiling is high, tables of solid wood, comfortable enough chairs, kind of dark, a handsome bar and brick walls. The brewery itself is visible through a gate and a glass window, and that's a nice touch. The music is present but unobtrusive---we heard Tom Waits, Natalie Merchant, Van Morrison, etc.---and like the clientele, it seemed like a lot of white folks with good taste.

Nothing wrong with that. The food menu is kind of sparse but not bad for pub grub: pizzas, basic sandwiches, etc. No wings or fried stuff. We had a sausage pizza and it was more than adequate. There were at least twelve beers on tap and we sampled eight of the twelve. That is one of the really nice things in terms of the beer: 5oz. samples go for between $1.25 and $2.50. You can choose what you want to try, and there is no set "flight" menu. That is a very nice touch.

We tried the APA, the imperial stout, the stout, the honey ale, the Irish red, the IPA, the English bitter and the double IPA. Each had its strengths, and each was tasty in its way, but there was nothing outstanding, or that will blow your mind. Of them all I thought the APA was the best as it was the most balanced, drinkable and memorable. Growlers cost $5, and the fill prices vary depending upon what style you get.

The service was competent but not aggressive. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, to be honest, but our waiter was nice and kept us in food and drink.

I liked the atmosphere, the food was serviceable and the beer was not bad. We got there at 4:30 on a Wednesday, and people were trickling in throughout the almost two hours we were there, until the place was pretty full by 6:00. I would definitely go back again, considering that this is the only place of its kind for miles and miles around. The best thing about this place is that it is an independent establishment run by someone who obviously has a love for beer and brewing it himself, and I value that commitment, especially in this city. If you're ever in Rockford, this is the place to go.

 2,453 characters

Photo of Bellabananas
1.98/5  rDev -51.8%
vibe: 2 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2

We stopped by here because my parents live in Rockford. Boy were we disappointed. Based on the reviews, maybe we just happened by on an off night, despite being a Saturday night. The place just looked completely blah. People were coming in every once in a while, but they all migrated into a back room or something, very few people in the front with the bar. We sampled several different beers and didn't enjoy a single one. My overall impression of their beer is watered down. It was hard to believe that the beers had the ABVs the menu boasted. We didn't try any food and left as soon as we had choked down a beer and some samples. Prices were standard for Rockford, although nice to us since we're from the city. I doubt you could drag me there again.

 754 characters

Photo of TripT
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

As a life-long resident of this hard-luck city, I think Carlyle is a rare gem. This is the place that I proudly take folks who are visiting from out of town. As others have said, the atmosphere is inviting and the service is friendly. As far as the beer goes, I think most of their offerings are great. There have been a few that I did not care for, but by and large, the beer is very good. I'm guessing the most popular brew they offer is the Humulous Lupulus (sp.?), which is a classy IPA. The Scottish Ale is also noteworthy. They don't devote a lot of resources to food, but what they have is simple and good. Carlyle makes Rockford a better place.

 652 characters

Photo of homebrew311
3.14/5  rDev -23.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 4

I am from Chicago but I visit Rockford frequently as my girlfriend's parents live there. I went downtown to seek out some good beer when I came across Carlyle's. Everything about this place was promising... the only brewery in Rockford, a nice atmosphere, a decent list of 12 beers that include some creative styles. The prices were also reasonable 3.75 for a glass (short of a pint) for most of their beers. The first beer I tried was the Bourbon aged cherry stout. This was served in a "goblet". The goblet looked huge (about 12-14 oz) but the glass was so thick that it only looked large perceptually. My guess is that it held 10 oz max. This beer was a huge disappointment. The appearance is thin and watery which for the style is a no no. The taste... water, bourbon, water. No cherry flavor and no roasted stout flavors. If I tasted this blind, I would have guessed it was AB's winter bourbon cask ale. I also sampled the Scotch ale which had a pleasant aroma and had a nice grain profile. Once again, this fell short on the taste. Very watery. It is as if they brewed all of their beer and then watered them down. Also sampled the vanilla cream ale... same story here. I will no go back here. As tempting and attractive as this place is, the product does not deliver.

 1,274 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Carlyle Brewing Co. in Rockford, IL
91 out of 100 based on 25 ratings.