Carlyle Brewing Co.
Ratings: 31 | Reviews: 25 | Display Reviews Only:
4.94/5 rDev +27%
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....
Pale Ale - wonderful crystal malt balance.
Vanilla Cream - Fantastic! "Fresh vanilla," I'm brewing one next summer.
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.
09-06-2012 01:16:22 | More by Yetiman420
4.8/5 rDev +23.4%
This brewpub is located near the Rock River in downtown Rockford. It is in an older brick building, and has exposed brick walls on the inside, very charming. The brewing area can be seen from the outside, off to the rightside, and from inside, it can be seen behind glass behind the right side half of the bar. The physical environment combined with the indie rock, jazz, and lounge music piped in on the satellite radio renders a very urbane, even hip ambience. They have only their own beers here, all on-tap, and roughly a dozen or so. The beer here is excellent ! I had one of the best quad's I have ever had, and a really good tripel, as well. I also had some 4 oz. sample sizes of an excellent strong ale ( which is what they called it, I think it was a barleywine ), as well as an excellent hefe-weizen, and a really good scottish ale. The servers here were very friendly, and helpful, and knowledgible. They have food, apparantly of the pub-food variety, but I did not have any since I had just come from having had a huge dinner previously, but maybe next time I will. Anyway, this place is excellent, and has excellent beer, and I would come here often if it was in Chicago, or if I lived in Rockford.
08-27-2007 15:18:43 | More by ultralarry2006
4.38/5 rDev +12.6%
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.
02-09-2011 23:33:19 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.38/5 rDev +12.6%
This is one of my favorite places to go in Rockford. The interior of the building is very rustic from the exposed beams to the the 18th century style tables along the walls. The center tables are more modern. You can see the brew kettles from your seats through a gated doorway or windows. There is a slight Scottish theme.
The staff is generally very nice and helpful. However, when it gets busy it can be a while before visits. The owner is frequently in the bar and will sit down and talk with you if invited. In fact just last Saturday night he joined some friends and I for pint.
The food menu is not extensive, but everything on there is excellent. They probably have one of the best reubens in the city and the beer brat is also excellent. Their beer menu does change with the seasons. There are some staple favorites on there all year round.
If you are in the Rockford area and like good beer, you would be remiss not to visit.
06-24-2008 22:16:37 | More by Contagion
4.34/5 rDev +11.6%
My in-laws were nice enough to stop in here with me on our way to Madison today. From the outside you can see the brewing equipment. From the inside, it sits behind the bar, visable through a window. I saw that their bourbon aged imperial stout had just gone on and asked about getting a growler of it. I was told that it would run me $60 bucks...so I got a growler of the Pale Ale to go and had a chalice of the stout while there. It was a typical bar-type establishment. I've heard rumors that they do food, but saw nothing that let me know that while there. The bartender was very nice, taking the time to let the brewer know I had a question. He came out and I was able to ask him what barrels he used to age the stout (Jack Daniels barrels, so bourbon stout is a bit of a stretch). The beer was good, there was a very nice patron that was rather interested in my love of beer and my reviews, so it was really nice to see people taking the time to ask me about what I was doing. I gave him a note with the web address here and my username, so hopefully he will be reading this some time and sign up and see what it is all about. There were 8 brews on tap, all house beers. OVerall, this was a very positive experience. Everyone was very nice and I could easily sit down and have a few beers there.
05-08-2005 02:05:30 | More by kmpitz2
4.33/5 rDev +11.3%
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.
09-25-2009 21:28:27 | More by TripT
4.3/5 rDev +10.5%
At $3.50/pint for all except the specialty beers, this place is a great value. It's all about the superb beer, and the owner has no intention of becoming a restaurant.
It's good to note that about a year ago this place voluntarily went smoke-free. The strip club next door, Ken's Hideaway, went out of business in fall of 2006, and Carlyle Brewing has purchased the building and is in the midst of expansion, including plans for a beer garden sometime in the summer of 2007. As of this writing, the stone wall for the bg is half finished.
Food is secondary, but tasty, and freshly prepared to order. The 7" and 12" pizzas have a super thin crust...they are actually flour tortillas..and they are tasty. The 16" is made with a different crust, still thin, but not like the tortillas. The ingredients are fresh and what goes better with beer than pizza? No fried foods, no grilled foods.
The beers are mostly excellent. The owner/brewer is a Belgian fan, and a big beer fan. Trippels, dubbels, quads, American strong ales all dot the menu. Thankfully Don Carlyle, the owner/brewer, who is a graduate of the Seibel Institute, isn't afraid to experiment. While most of his beers are very true to their styles, he's had some fun with a variety of bourbon barrel stouts and monster big beers.
The atmosphere ranges from quiet, a place for conversation...to crowded and fun. Don't look for TV's, neon, juke boxes or ashtrays.
When the place gets busy, service can be a little slow. The wait staff insists on personally pouring every beer order, then walking the length of the place to behind the bar....then back around. Also strange is the absence of any touch screen order entry. Not a problem during quiet times, but it's a comedy watching the staff operate during peak hours.
Regardless, Carlyle Brewing produces beautiful ales, and when in Rockford, you must visit.
05-07-2007 23:05:51 | More by Humulus51
4.28/5 rDev +10%
Glass façade with the brewkettles in full view from the street. Once inside the double doors, there was a preliminary board listing the current specialty brews. It was December, and I was happy to see an Imperial Stout and Christmas Ale listed.
The first thing to draw my eye after stepping in was the colorful "Lion Rampant" flag of Scotland high on the back wall. Brewery area was gated off by Tim Burton style iron gates, right out of the Nightmare Before Xmas. Deep red and blue hues on some walls, with a large exposed brick wall to one side, with 5 educational banners about the brewing process. All house taps at the bar, dark wooden tables and benches in the small seating area.
We sat down and decided to order a pizza, but waited a while for service. Once the server got to us, I could see that he was also working the bar with one other staff member. We probably showed up between shifts, because the service was great once we ordered. They brought several samples over the course of the evening. Didn't get a growler, but the Imperial Stout was the highlight. Pizza was ok, it was ultra thin and employed a flour tortilla as the crust. The other menu items sounded good, deli sandwiches and soft pretzels.
Worth a detour off of I-90, this seems to be the best beer stop Rockford has to offer (in 2007). Also of note in town is Toad Hall, an emporium of collectibles, mostly records, books, and odds & ends.
12-27-2007 20:10:13 | More by emerge077
Carlyle Brewing Co. in Rockford, IL
88 out of 100 based on 31 ratings.