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Illumination | Central Waters Brewing Co.

262 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by CaptainIPA on 06-01-2010

User Reviews
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Reviews: 262 | Ratings: 898
Photo of Sconnie25
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I purchased a bottle of this from Riley's Wines of the World in Madison, WI. Illumination pours a golden hue with a nice head that leaves behind a phenomenal lacing. The aroma is very strong with hints of citrus and malt. The flavor is very interesting. The citrus comes out nicely and the malt is also present. The finish has a hop bitterness that is smoothed out by the citrus. This is a very interesting beer.

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Photo of polloenfuego
4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden with tan hues with a thumbs worth of head. Decent lacing. I found the smell mild, but what I did pick up was pine hops and malts. The taste was pine hops with a touch of citrus up front, malts in the middle and a bitter resiny finish. Medium carbonation and a sticky mouthfeel.

Good beer, but the nose seems a bit mild for what I would expect. Definitely hoppy enough, and worth a try for the IPA/DIPA crowd.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.82/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a tuliip

A- pours a clear amber color with some orange and ruby hues, small creamy white head reduces to a thin film and ring around the edge

S- Piney and resinous hop with a hint of citrus and melon, sweet malty undertone gives off hints of caramel

T- strong piney and grassy hop bitterness up front, followed by lighter notes of citrus. Earthy and caramel malt add a bit of balance, before finishing with a resinous finish and lingers of pine and citrus

M- medium-heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy thick mouthfeel that continues into the finish

O- very bitter and aggressive, the underlying malt seems to control it a bit

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jeff for this one. 12oz. bottle into a Darkness snifter. The label is different now than what is posted.

Elevated pour yields a .5 finger foamy white head with moderate retention. Beer is a clear dark peach. Lacing is spotty and sparse with little stick. Average.

Nose belies the flavor profile and immediately, I know that this is the piney, sappy IPA style that I'm not a huge fan of. Notes of tree sap, resin, caramel and papaya. Moderately aromatic.

Opens resin, tree sap hop bitterness and a full bodied fruit malt body. Some more sap and resin hop presence in the middle balanced by caramel, coarse brown sugar and bark. Ends grass, sap and amber. Solid but I'm really just not a fan.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Foamy and bubbly in the mouth and goes down aggressive and coarse. Finishes accented with a resiny, sticky aftertaste. Decent.

There's big, bold hop flavor going on here but I'm just not a fan of the resiny, sappy hop profile type IPAs. This certainly leans towards that direction. Not a bad beer by any means, just not my style.

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Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'm a big fan of many of Central Waters' beers, though I'm not overly fond of Glacial Trail IPA. But when I saw Illumination in six packs for about $6 more than their staple brews, I had to jump at it. Poured straight from the fridge into a pint glass and enjoyed immediately.

L: Pours a deep copper/apricot with about a half inch of off-white head that persists for a good while before settling down to a ring and broken film. Quite clear, with modest effervescence. Substantial lacing on the glass as it goes down.

S: It doesn't have an overpowering nose to it, but the bouquet is beautiful. Lots of citrus/grapefruit hop notes mingling nicely with apricot and more subtle pine and grasses.

T: Some sweet malt/biscuit flavors at the fore, followed almost immediately by a piney hop onslaught that carries into the aftertaste. At the back, the citrus flavors assert themselves before a nice--but by no means overwhelming--bitterness. This description might make the taste seem jarring, but it's quite the opposite: this is an extremely well-balanced and drinkable DIPA.

F: One thing I can't stand about many of the DIPAs out there is their syrupy quality. This beer is not in the least syrupy or overly heavy on the palate. It has a lighter body than many in this style, along with just the right carbonation. The bitter stays on your taste buds without making you feel like you've just swallowed Robitussin.

O: If you can get your hands on this beer, it'll be well-worth your effort. It's incredibly drinkable for a DIPA--it really goes down easy without sacrificing any of the hop glory. You continue to impress me, Central Waters.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.71/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vibrant tangerine color with solid fluffy head, looks great. Smell is more piney followed by some citrus, again very well done. Smoothest DIPA I've encountered but has resinous hops linger. Completely dangerous at its ABV. It's a winner

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From taste notes. Appearance: Smell: Rich, hoppy grapefruit rind nose Taste: Starts malty with some caramel and they gives way to a very pleasant lingering citrus rind bitterness. Mouthfeel: Medium body, rich and creamy, fine soft carbonation, smooth. Overall: Very easy to drink for such a big beer.

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Photo of Chaz
3.91/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a slightly hazey orange-amber in color, topped with a rocky pale tan head. Head Holds up for a good few minutes (in a chalice) and exhibits good lacing. Looks good so far...

How this beer looks is greatly overshadowed by the massive juicy hop aroma, and the complexity to be found therein. Citrus (orange and lemon rind, grapefruit) and tropical fruit, along with a hint of (pepper)mint. Sweet malt profile as well; smells rich but not too complex. Just a hint of yeast.

Brisk and sweet/tangy/bitter on the first sip, coating the tongue and entire palate with a lightly-numbing, resiny hop character. It's the whole shebang, all at once! Dry on the finish -- astringent.

Notes of mint and anise on the back of the palate, which is a change from the burst of citrus and tropical fruit on the nose. Nice surprise, actually.

Mouthfeel is lighter that I'd expected, making this seem like a much easier drinking beer (the alcohol is pretty well hidden at first, too.) Defintely dangerously-drinkable at this strength.

This one brings back some very fond memories of my first 90 Minute I.P.A.!

Worth seeking out, trading for, or ticking -- take your pick!

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Pours a moderately hazed orange color with a white head. Some lace is left behind on the glass. Aroma is floral and citrusy with a hint of pine. The taste is like dandelion with so much floral but backed by citrus and pine. Floral, bitter and resinous. Medium bodied, well carbonated, semi dry with the sharp hop bite. Overall, an above average brew that is worthy of the praise.

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Photo of infinitebruner
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

August 29, 2014

Tulip, 12 oz bottle

A – Pours deep golden to orange amber, slight haze after the pour. I can see a lot of bubbles and carbonation in the beer. Moderate foam head that sticks around for a minute or so, about a cm of froth sitting on top after a couple minutes.

S – Resin, tropical fruit, maybe some guava or something similar that I can’t quite identify. Some pine in the background. Smells like it’s going to be a pretty bitter beer, the hops are definitely there over the malt.

T – The hops are very fruity and bitter, but there’s a surprising amount of maltiness here as well. Much more balanced in the taste than in the aroma. Still getting the resin and the pine, but still some tropical or passion fruit there. Again, much more balanced then I was expecting. There also seems to be some alcohol heat that I wouldn’t expect with it being “just” 9% alcohol—comparable to what I taste with a 120 Minute.

M – Very bitter, but the maltiness comes in to balance it out. A pretty thick feeling beer, but the carbonation washes it away quite nicely. The bitterness does stay in the finish and the aftertaste, a little more so than I prefer. Again, getting some heat from the alcohol, but pretty mild.

O – A lot of Double IPAs try to hit you over the head with the hop bitterness, and with the aroma profile I thought this would be similar. However, the maltiness provides some really nice balance across the senses, especially with the flavor and the mouthfeel. It has a lot of qualities I would expect from a more English IPA. I really like this beer, and think it stands out amongst Double IPAs.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

A - Pours an orange amber with a finger of light tan head. Good retention, fantastic lacing

S - Grapefruit and orange mostly. An incy bincy bit resinous, maybe a hint of booze as well.

T - Very nice. Big dry bitterness but the citrusy grapefruit and orange do a solid job holding up to it. Big boozy and bitter mainly but enough balance in here to make it quite enjoyable. I'm thinking if maharajah was actually balanced it would maybe taste something close to this.

M - Medium bodied+, solid carbonation. The boozyness makes it a little bit of a sipper but still an enjoyable drinking big bitter dipa

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Photo of SD-Alefan
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served from tap in a tulip.

The beer is a dark amber color, slightly cloudy and was served to me with about a one-finger foamy head.

The aroma is grapefruit and citrus with a hint of underlying bready malt.

The taste is big-time grapefruit with maybe a hit of pine resin and a bit of booziness. There is a lingering grapefruit pith bitterness that stays on the tongue for some time. It's quite a potent mouthful.

The beer is medium in mouthfeel and a bit sticky.

This is an excellent brew that I would happily drink again. A big IPA that delivers big flavor.

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Photo of Tone
3.81/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, copper color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of citrus hops, floral hops, sweet malt, hint of pine, and a hint of alcohol. Fits the style of an American Double / Imperial IPA. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. There is also a strong bitterness level. Tastes of citrus hops, floral hops, sweet malt, strong pine, and alcohol. Overall, strong and fresh flavors, good appearance, aroma, and body.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a pleasant orange-amber color, with a big foamy head. A little murky. Leaves a good deal of lacing.

Burst of citrus in the aroma. Lots of oranges and grapefruit. Pretty hoppy. A little bready malt.

Lots of grapefruit in the taste. A little lemon zest. Pine hops. Not as bitter as the IBUs indicated. Alcohol is masked pretty well. Could benefit from a little but more maltiness.

Medium bodied. Good carbonation. A tiny bit more syrupy than it needed to be (in my opinion).

A solid DIPA. At the same time, it's nothing out of the ordinary. I'm trying to give Central Waters another chance. It was one of the breweries I started with when I started with craft beer, and, as such, I don't think I gave it the respect it deserved. In closing, I would say this is a good entry-level DIPA (if there ever was such a thing, heh).

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.81/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: slight haze; burnt orange in color; 1 finger white head that receded slowly to a thin cap; very nice lacing;

S: ripe pineapple with grapefruit in the background;

T: all pineapple - like drinking pineapple soda; no bitterness until the very end of the finish; some booziness;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation;

O; somewhat one note, but that note is pretty good; I would have liked more bitterness and some more complexity in the flavor;

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Cloudy amber with heavy bubbles. White head that rose to maybe 1/2" off the body. Looks absolutely delish.

Smell: Bland citrus smell, feels like grapefruit but could definitely be a little more potent.

Taste: Strong bitterness, I mean seriously potent and it the hops on full throttle. This all depends on your palate...I like the citrus feel which most certainly makes up for the scent.

Mouth: Heavy body, heavy carbonation...sticky enough to still remember the fruit feel that comes off a bit like toasted bread.

Overall: Good beer, actually very good beer...not as complex as I like some DIPAs but I can definitely recommend to everyone. For the price it's an absolute steal. Salud!

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Photo of kkleu357
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%

From notes on 10/31/13

Pours with not much head. Lots of flowery hoppy smell. Great full body flavor. What sticks out to me is there is more to it than bitter hops. Can’t explain it, but my whole tongue was hit worth flavors, not just the sides.

Also, on tap this beer really shines. Huge grapefruit notes and a big punch of bitterness.

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Photo of jwc215
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours slightly hazed amber with an off-white, lasting head. Plenty of lacing sticks.

The smell is hoppy - citric and tropical fruits greet the nose in a robust way. A hint of biscuit mixes in. Very pleasant!

The taste is of citric and tropical fruits with a hint of pine/resin. Hops supported by a firm, caramel-ish malty backbone. It has a spicy, refreshingly dry finish.

Very smooth. Medium-to-full-bodied, the alcohol is dangerously well-hidden.

A wonderfully hoppy DIPA. Great interpretation of the style! Also, it comes in a very reasonably priced 6-pack! Certainly recommended!

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Photo of guityler83
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: A finger of off white head sits atop a moderately hazy copper colored beer. The head persisted for a minute before slowly sliding down into the glass leaving a ring around the edge and a coat of lacing on the side of the glass. The haziness is so prominent I cant see my hand on the other side of the snifter glass.

S: Fruit candy aroma, sweetarts and smarties. Strawberries and over ripe peaches, dank pine and and underlying grapefruit note. Lots of hop aroma layers going on. A considerable amount of alcohol in the nose. Toasty and cookie like malt notes come through but they are subtle.

T: Big and bold dark piney bitterness hits the back of the throat first and dominates your palette. Strong grapefruit and tea like hop flavors take over the next part followed by a nice dough and toast malt character. The malt flavors keep the beer from becoming hop tea and mellow out the alcohol flavors. The balance is on the hop side. The finish leaves off right where it started, dank pine and some dark fruit flavors.

M: Carbonation is mild to medium and keeps the sticky icky hop oil mouthfeel from becoming too much. Nice body not too dry, atypical for the style. A bit harsh in the bitterness but expected from the style I suppose.

O: A hop wolop of a beer with some booziness and malt character. I like the hop profile on this beer a lot and would love to see this in a smaller beer since this is a one and done beer for me. However, I would recommend it to any IPA/DIPA lover out there.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Chunky haze in a dried apricot brown body. Nice, fine white head has good retention and lace.

S - Citrusy on the first pour, with more plant-forward notes as the beer sits. Pine, dandelion.

T - Bitter and herbal with cilantro and rosemary. Lemon zest and waxy resin bitters on the backend. Clean and light with a dry finish.

M - Crisp like body for the style. Par carbonation.

O - A really nice DIPA. Light and dry for the style, perfect for the summer.

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Photo of N_Schleret
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a amber orange with a two finger off white head. Good retention and lacing.
S: Grapefruit, citrus, and pine.
T: Grapefruit and tangerine with a light pine flavor.
M: Medium body, light carbonation, moderate bitterness.
O: A pretty solid DIPA for the warm weather.

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Photo of metter98
4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy amber orange in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of piney hops are present in the nose along with notes of citrusy hops.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that the citrusy hop flavors seem to be a little more balanced with the pine resin hops. There is a strong amount of bitterness and this lingers through the finish. Hints of underlying caramel malts are perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is an "in your face" IPA that delivers big aromas and flavors of hops along with a strong dose of associated bitterness. It's not overly difficult to drink if you can get past the hops and bitterness as the alcohol is very well masked from the taste.

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Photo of WheelsPSU
3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

My first Central Waters beer and it does not disappoint. Pours a light bright pinkish/gold hue. It tasted like a nice blend of tropical citrus and honey with a pine hop flavor at the finish. Supremely bitter and warming. A bit dry but sweet on the lips.

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Photo of dar482
4.41/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in a beautiful pink grape fruit color. Something not seen in IPAs.

The aroma has bitter grapefruit juice, a papaya, citrus peel, a light spicy herbal, a candy sweetness.

The beer in front has bitter pineapple, lots of grapefruit juice, onto a burst of perfumey floral, almost like drinking perfume. A light bready malt in the middle. The back has lots of resinous bitter pine, but not abrasive or too aggressive.

A clean drinking beer as the alcohol is absolutely hidden and this drinks a point or two below its ABV.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a Goose Island tulip. The pour is fairly clear with a bit of haze. It's gold/apricot/burnt orange in color and sports two fingers of creamy white head that retains very well. The nose has lots of hoppy, citrus-like notes and an underlying bready sweetness. It smells like fresh toast with marmalade, grapefruit, and some pineapple. Very nice.

The flavor is medium-bodied and reflects the nose very accurately. The beer has a nice bready sweetness up front from a substantial malt bill and a well-balanced hoppy flavor thereafter. The bitterness starts out citrusy and gradually sharpens towards the back of the palate as the malt bids you farewell. The hops keep going, becoming resiny and lingering nicely on the finish. Nice firm, oily feel. No booziness. Very drinkable.

This is exactly the kind of beer I would have deemed unpalatable 2 or 3 years ago, but finally appreciate now. There's nothing not to like about this beer and the finish is very prolonged. It reminds me a little of FFF Arctic Panzer Wolf. If I had to nitpick I'd simply say I prefer citrusy bitterness to resiny bitterness. Other than that, this is a beer that any hophead would be fortunate to get their sticky hands on.

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Illumination from Central Waters Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 262 ratings.