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Illumination - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

260 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 260
Hads: 873
Avg: 4.03
pDev: 18.11%
Wants: 95
Gots: 79 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: CaptainIPA on 06-01-2010

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 260 | Hads: 873
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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Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.61/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Color me Illuminated!!! Got this in a 16oz growler from Cable Beverage in NY, and poured it into my Gandhi-Bot snifter.

A lot of the properties of this beer remind me of Chillwave: color, smell, taste.

Nice mixture of mango and grapefruit on the tongue. Exceptionally delicious!!!

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Photo of EdwardK77
4.44/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Copper in color with a solid white head that holds up well and leaves nice bubbly lacing.

S- Not overpowering to me but pleasantly in the citrus spectrum.

T- I'm getting perfectly balanced sweet, bitter, citrusy, and caramel goodness.

M- Very smooth drinking, mild effervescence with some nice residual stickiness. The mouthfeel keeps you coming back for another sip.

O- This was my introduction to Central Waters and I am sure that we won't part company for too long. This is a top end well balanced DIPA.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: deep gold and clear, with a couple of fingers of off-white head that left smatterings of foam behind. A thin cap persisted to the end.

S: lots of dank grapefruit pith with bready biscuit malts beneath

T: the hop action is bitter and crisp and tight up front, barely smoothed out by the malt base's mildly sweet breadiness and chew. Impressions of washed out citrus and pale caramel sweetness.

M: light, tight, crisp, and clean; medium-bodied DIPA that leans toward IPA; nicely bittered and slightly dry

O: a class act in the DIPA genre - not a beer to pass up if you haven't had it yet, and probably not one you're gonna pass up once you've had it. Git some.

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Photo of ksimons
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-an orangish amber color with a fingers worth of white head

S-lots of citrus, especially grapefruit, caramel, and pineapple

T-caramel malt and some tropical fruits gives a lot of sweetness but the finish is full of pine and citrus

M-medium body and moderate carbonation

Overall this beer is heavy on the sweetness but still packs a lot of hops in it. The alcohol is very well hidden.

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Photo of Motozappa
4.65/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving: Poured from a growler served yesterday from a freshly tapped keg at Vista Beer and Beverage in Westchester, NY into a VIJF Duvel tulip glass (sil vous plait)

Appearance: When poured little white head developed which is a good thing really( :P ). The lacing was minimal, but what had developed was highly resinous so it stuck for ages. Notably was the cloudiness which a first I thought might be a frosty condensation, but upon whipping both sides of the glass, I knew the opaqueness was quite clearly non-transparent.

Smell: This is where things really get rolling even with my tree pollen alergies trying to stand in the way. To me it seems not all that complex, just straight up lightly florally hops, with a smooth pine aroma and a freshness that can not be compared to many others of the same style.

Taste: Now for a double or imperial IPA these suds are smooth as silk without any bite or a high alcohol blast. First it's hoppy upon the tongue, then mildly dry and lastly if you are paying attention, the persistent flavor lingers nicely on and and on...

Mouthfeel: This part is always hardest for me and no, it didn't feel like a ten thousand pound anchor was dropped upon my palette... I'll do my best: It's almost dry to the entire mouth especially the tongue yet only initially. Then it happens as I open my mouth the dryness dissipates quickly to a well rounded, smooth and sweet finish that is unobtrusive and very satisfying. Oh and it is mildly carbonated, but far from flat which I prefer with most ales.

If you've read this far, I thank you for reading and bearing with my excessive dribble. Enjoy good brews responsibly with good friends and family > goodwill, cheers and peace to all.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle of the recent 2014 seasonal release.

A- clear, slightly hazy light straw yellow body, one finger white head with good retention and solid lacing.

S- Pineapples galore, sweet bready pale malt, some citrus. Smells great.

F- More bready than hoppy in flavour, fairly bitter pine finish. The pineapples do not come out very strong on the palate, but you can taste the typical hop resin oils quite easily.

M- Medium bodied, resinous, slick and coats the palate in a quite strong piney bitter finish. Dry.

O- Very piney and bitter DIPA that smells like tropical fruit and pineapple, comes in inexpensive six packs. Not bad.

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Photo of JerUrbans
4.56/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage

Pours a hazy orange, with fluffy white head, very nice lacing.

Smell is very nice, grapefruit, hops, and pine.

Taste is excellent, much like the nose, alcohol is very well hidden. Some bitterness at the end but the flavors are very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat creamy, with a nice little bitterness at the end. Nice bit of carbonation.

Overall, this is one I wait all year for. One of the best examples of the style. So glad this brewery is in my back yard.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.09/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(UPDATE: APRIL 9, 2015)
Man, that's good. Significantly better than the 4.05 I gave it a year ago. I wonder if the formula's changed. Probably not, or CW would've made a big deal of it, the way Sixpoint did of 2015 Hi-Res. (Or Classic Coke. That's defensive, damage-control PR.)

The aroma still underwhelms. As does the appearance, a cloudy, dull amber, like a cellar-aged beer.

Wife says it tastes cellar-aged, too. It does. It's an oxidized umami, that . . . I don't know how to finish that sentence. Something about pork.

In the mouth it's brilliant. The ripe-fruit sweetness--both sweet tangerine and tropical (as in papaya)--is totally pleasing. It really reminds one of Dirtwolf, only with more body and ethanol heat.

Uh, oh, hold on: the aftertaste is yucky. It's all white-grapefruit pith. Grapefruit that's been dosed in insecticide. No, that's overstating it. I'm sure many a hophead would appreciate it. But hear that? That's the sound of me sticking my tongue out. It's very West Coast, I guess.

So I was mostly right last year. Good on me.

It's perfect for the cellar!
Orig. score: 4.05 (Feb. 22, 2014). No review.

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Photo of ChrisFugiel
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In terms of taste the beer is exceptional. But watch out: the alcohol content is 9%. Not a beer to beer bong, or is it? Definitely worth a try. In fact, I will be grabbing this one again in the near future. Pricey, it is 9 bucks for a 4 pack -- so not a beer to share. Who would want to share this one anyway?

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.72/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

- double ipa. reported 100 ibus. bottled apr. consumed sept.

A: Murky cadmium orange in the vessel is topped off by a thick, frothy, tan head. Slow rising carbonation builds the head, lacing is speckled band with a moderate rate of retention. Covering is skim til the end.

S: Fresh citrus, pine of average strength, grapefruity toasted grains.

T: Flavor was grapefruit flower and toasted grains. Nice level of bitterness, some fresh citrusy flavor, spicy, toasted grassiness with everything blending nicely together. Woodsy toasted pine, the malting is very well done here.

M: Creamy malty, lush mouthful, tight tingly carbonationdry with a flowery citrus coating teasing the tongue. Spicy pine bite afterwards.

O: The nose could of used some more backing, but the balance of malts and hops flavor/bitterness wise made amends. The mouthful was decent. Consumed 5 months past bottling this still held up and showed a strong hoppiness with little fade. Nice balance of lightly dry bitterness mingles with some wet hoppiness with no aging effects. Maybe even better when fresh. worthy a try.

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Photo of alexgash
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Bottled on Feb. 2013.

Light haze in a medium copper body. Pinkie finger of gauzy, light beige head. Good lacing. Rummy fruit malts, caramel, and toffee aromas underneath an umbrella of pine and resin hops.

Toasted malt quickly gives way to rummy fruits, spicy alcohol, and sweetish caramel. Herbal, piny bitterness surges. Prickly, peppery, spicy bitterness goes well with the toffee-ish, caramel-rich malt. Decent balance. Dryer finish with lingering fruit, caramel, and resinous bitterness. Medium-full body with a slightly syrupy feel. Tasty and warming.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has a very thick malt base to it. Which meshes pretty well with all of the hops. And the hops seem very earthy and rustic. Pine and resin abound. Minimal saltiness. Pretty nice. I have a feeling this would be better fresher, but it's pretty good now. A nice enough one.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.74/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Peg's snifter glass.

A: Deep gold to a caramel/apricot, with lots of haze. Thin white head and carbonation on the low side.

S: Not bad, though not a lot of layers to work through. Caramel malt sweetness, booze, and hops (citrus and pine) all hit the nose about simultaneously.

T: Follows the nose pretty closely. There's some light tropical fruitiness too. It isn't quite as caramel-dominant as I thought it might be from the aroma. Moderate bitterness in the hang.

M: Medium body, significant alcohol presence, and average carbonation sensation.

O: Not bad, though it's boozy and more malt-forward that expected. I think this may be a little old - would be curious to try a very-fresh example. Still pretty decent as it is.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Fluffy white/yellow foamyness sit on top of iced tea looking brew. Moderate lacing.

Mango and pineapple dominate. Lots of sugary malt.

Hot, heavy, sugary, buttery, missing over amounts of bitterness, sweetness is nearly overpowering, lots of apple, orange, and bread. Wet and enjoyable. Carbonation is Medium and sits well.

Recommended for a try, couldn't use as go to DIPA. Good brew, solid, but not amazing or anything to "hunt".

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Photo of hopoilcrazy
3.54/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

50th review! Thanks, to Shagens for the extra!

A - Straw colored and slightly hazy. Small big bubble head

S - Gummy sort of mint. Sweet. Big "mixed fruit" sort of notes. Hay-ish. Hop oil

T - Viscous sort of sweetness. Notes of chartreuse, orange, tequila, vanilla. A good amount going on, but it is subdued.

M - Good body, not too heavy. Alcohol is totally in check for 9%.

Overall, pretty good. Well crafted, but in the ever growing world of DIPA's it is not that memorable

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Photo of joeseppy
3.28/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Beautiful cascading copper rush pour effect with a generous one inch fluffy white head.

Aroma a bit of a letdown--not much for me except muted tropical fruit.

Taste is very one dimensional. All bitter white grapefruit with mediocre malt filling. Nothing even remotely sweet for balance.

Medium body and decent carbonation. Bitterness lingers.

Taste and smell are everything and this is average at best. This should not be touted in 4 pks almost as if its an exclusive find. Store I purchased this from has always been fair in pricing, but this comes in @ $11/4PK...overpriced IMO. I could only drink one and then move on. I will not purchase again.

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Photo of arthuro11
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Pours out very nice with a bit of foaming, but leaves a very nice lacing. The initial hit on the olfactory is very nice, not super fruity on the nose as the hops are strong, but you can tell it's something decent, quite a lot going on.

Taste is very good, a huge fruit hit with a bit of an aftertaste but that's expected of a double IPA. Very complex on the palette, hits the tongue light initially considering the higher ABV. Great hops flavor, and very good aftertaste, especially if bitter hops is up your alley.

Available in a 4-pack, have yet to try on tap but if I get up to north-central Wisconsin or hopefully the MREA will definitely seek it out.

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Photo of Jparker37
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into an oversized tulip. Bottled in March.

A - Big pillowy white head. Perfect clarity to a light amber beer with orange highlights. Tons of sticky lacing.

S - Citrusy and tropical, mango and peach. Oily/resiny hops. Some sweetness detected.

T - Early bitterness but a layered background of toasty malts holds a gentle sweetness throughout. Big on hop flavors midway; citrus, spiciness and more prickly pine. Bitterness comes crashing in at the finish but not necessarily dry. Those hop flavors never leave my mouth after I've finished.

M - Medium-full bodied, creamy light to medium-light carbonation, semi-dry.

O - Solid look to the beer. Huge dank oily hop aroma. Flavor was leaning heavy on hops for the style but still had a malt edge to bring it somewhat into balance. Big creamy feel is spot on but could have been a little crisper.

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3.99/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Central Waters Illumination

Appearance: Illumination pours a nice looking golden orange color with an off-white finger of tightly bubbled head. There is a good amount of carbonation streaming off the bottom of the glass, and there is definite sediment throughout the beer, which makes the beer a moderately opaque. The lacing is solid and there are a lot of alcohol legs. This looks like a pretty typical IIPA, but the sediment is a bit odd, though not unwelcome. Other unfiltered examples of the style are much clearer (except Heady Topper, which is so ugly it is gorgeous).

Aroma: Grapefruit, peaches, pineapple, mango, papaya, and other tropical citrus fruits stream violently out of the glass. The sheer resinous power of the hop aromas is very nice. There is also a nice combination of bready, sugary, and caramel sweetness, which combine together to make more of a honey aroma. This IIPA has quite an impressive level of complexity. There’s nothing really to dislike.

Taste: While the complexity remains in the taste, it does not quite come together as well. The absolute bouquet of tropical citrus flavors is almost entirely drowned out by resinous, piney bitterness; it is there, but muscled into a corner by the overly aggressive bitterness. The honey sweetness comes in the middle of the mouth, but it is not quite able to cut through the borderline overbearing rindy bitterness. Accompanying the sweetness is a second, slightly stronger wave of tropical fruit, but it too eventually gives way to a final, drying note of hoppy bitterness. There is a lot to like here, but the bitterness is just too much and forces the balance too far off the mark.

Mouthfeel: Unsurprisingly, given the immense, towering bitterness, there is a whole lot of astringency throughout every drink of this beer. The 9% ABV comes through heavy, with an awful lot of warming bordering on actual alcohol burn. Combined with the astringency, the alcohol creates an interesting mouthfeel. The jury is hung if “interesting” here is good or bad. The carbonation is on point, but it cannot serve its purpose of spreading flavors around because of the impenetrable wall of bitterness.

Overall: This is a perfectly passable IIPA that really excels in the nose, but just cannot cash the check that the aroma wrote. It is so incredibly bitter that the flavors just cannot flourish. This is easily as bitter as any IIPA I have had, and I love my bitterness, but something about this just does not work. Perhaps it is because the aroma was so promising and the taste so disappointing in comparison. Also, the price point is a bit high. I would not buy it again, but I am certainly glad I tried it. 16/20

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle received in a trade. Poured into my Southern Tier tulip.

Pours a golden hazy copper amber color. 2 inch head forms, good lacing down the glass.

Smells like sharp dank pine needles, grapefruit, pineapple, and orange.

Similar taste. Palate shredding bitterness here from the pine and grapefruit- large amounts of both. A little bit of an alcohol burn on the mouth with each sip. No real malt character that I can detect.

Full bodied, crisp dry mouthfeel. Well carbonated.

A great IPA, and a great extra to receive in a trade. Loved it.

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

Pours a nice, soapy, resiny head that laces slightly. Big notes of grapefruit dominate the nose. Hazy, burnt umber-straw color. Starts off with an intensely bitter hoppiness that is dominated by grapefruit and citrus rind. Builds into a high bitterness that becomes very citric, then the malt comes through a little bit as the bitterness lingers and lingers.

Overall, this isn't bad. I tend not to go for the grapefruit/citrus rind IPA's, but this one works well. I like it. I would buy this again, and I definitely recommend it. Again, not my hop profile preference, so if you DO like that, add a point to the overall.

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Illumination from Central Waters Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 260 ratings.