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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 cosmicevan
3.23/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2012-02-22 tasting notes when reviewing was disabled...

on a hunt in chicago found these...bottled Feb/March of this year and couldn't resist such freshness (that plus a helpful tip on the deliciousness from a Binny's employee - thanks mystery guy for the tip!)

a - popped the bottle and filled a plastic cup in my hotel room (classy, i know). has the classic ipa orange witha finger of white frothy ipa head.

s - as soon as i opened the bottle, fresh ipa smell filled the room. upon closer inspection, yep...maximum freshness. there is a strong hop presence, but i'm surprised to say that the malts are equally represented very caramel and almost even barleywine like. candy.

t - much like the nose suggests, this one is a very malt forward IIPA. some fruitiness and then a wash of bitterness. all-in-all, not really what i look for in a uber fresh IIPA. i'd say perhaps this is a year old, but i was told it *just* came in so must be fresh.

m - medium bodied, not as thick as i'd expect and the bitterness at the end is interesting, but not offputting.

o - overall, a double ipa...perhaps, but not along the lines of double ipas that are all the rage these days. too malt forward. i'd swear it was miscategorized, but the label says double ipa. not a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to what's out there for the style, this is average at best. i'll happily drink the rest of my 4 pack, but not when i'm looking for an ipa. i am rather surprised by the high ratings on this one (mmm...unexplained high ratings from the locals - D'oh).

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Photo of warnerry
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled March 2011; consumed 8/17/11

A - pours clear orange with one finger of quickly dissipating off-white head. Head leaves some lacing.

S - Mostly grapefruit and caramel malts.

T - Strong bitter grapefruit and a bit of pine up front. Large caramel malt presence in the middle. Finish is very bitter. Good, but not very balanced. I like bitter DIPAs but this may be too much for me.

M - Medium mouthfeel, somewhat juicy before the very dry finish.

O - A pretty good DIPA but doesn't really stand above the crowd.

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Photo of gford217
4.62/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle courtesy of Frankenbrew.

Pours a brilliant clear golden amber with a soapy white head thate recedes to a wispy cap and leaves some streaks of lacing.

The aroma is wonderful with pithy citrus hops paired with resinous floral hops. Grapefruits, lemons and pine trees all rolled into one. Light bready malts in the background.

The taste also has the sweet but slightly bitter citrus, grapefruits coming out a little more. The backbone is lightly toasted malts and a big, bitter finish just full of sticky pine resin and a little alcohol burn.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and sticky with hops. The carbonation is moderate but the beer just sticks on my tongue after each sip.

This is a fantastic beer. One of the best IPAs I remember tasting. I'm starting to wonder if Central Waters is my favorite brewery. The hits just keep on coming...

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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 jera1350
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark burnt orange in color with a nice layer of creamy tan foam on top. Nice gobs of lacing on the glass.

Fresh citrusy goodness fills the nostrils. Pineapple, orange and grapefruit with a malty sweetness as well.

What a hop profile! Picking up some pineapple and citrus and then a wave of pine sweeps in. A nice sweetness that seems to be more fruity than caramel. Strong pine resin and grapefruit bitterness lasts until the next sip.

More than medium bodied, smooth with some very soft carbonation. Finishes tongue suckingly dry.

Drinks well for the style and abv. This is a DIPA that should be on everyone's radar. Top notch and sure to satisfy all hopheads.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Updated 5/9/13

A - Pours a medium orange/honey color, a little bit hazy, and a massive rocky, creamy foam head. The head is quite sticky and the carbonation is light.

S - Moderate resiny peaches, mango's, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, and no malt aroma whatsoever, a HUGE improvement over my last bottle over a year ago. So this is how it's supposed to smell, very nice.

T - Toasty caramel malt underneath and a substantial dose of pine and citrus over the top. The taste is even throughout until the very end where the back of your mouth is left with thick coating of very bitter pine and grapefruit. The bitter aftertaste is very long and lingering with alot of rind and resin on the backside.

M - Medium body and dry finish.

O - This is a solid Double IPA.

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Photo of morimech
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Hazy, radiant, deep, golden-amber color with two fingers of dense white head that had excellant retention. The head eventually settles to a thick cap. Heavy lacing is left on the glass. Hard to imagine a DIPA looking much better.

Smell- Pungent hop aromas. Hints of grapefruit, pineapple, and pine. Underneath the citrus bash of hop aromas, there is some softer notes of tropical fruit. Malt does not make an appearance here.

Taste- A lot of citrus upfront. Some passion fruit and mango as well. Malt is dry and is used to just transport the hops. Very high bitterness which is not surprising. No sign of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Full bodied with soft carbonation. Wonderful texture for such a bitter beer.

Drinkability- About as drinkable as a DIPA of this magnitude could be. Maybe two bottles at the most before the palate would be fatigued.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.21/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. I got a couple of these in in-person trades on DLD, so if you gave me one, thanks!

A: Crystal clear pale amber under a finger of fine white foam. Fantastic retention and lacing - picture perfect DIPA.

S: Clean, thoroughly pleasant hoppy aroma. Citrus dominates with plenty of grapefruit pith and lemon. Some biscuity malt peeks through, but is acceptably understated. Nice.

T: Even mix of fruity, citrusy hops and clean, bready malt. Spicy, bitter, and slightly boozy finish. Good stuff.

M: Sticky, fairly full body with soft, velvety carbonation. Excellent.

O: Great beer. While I could have dealt with a little more complexity and a bit less booze, overall I was really, really happy with it. This is light-years better than their Glacial Trail IPA, and was even distinctly superior to New Glarus IIPA in a back-to-back comparison. Well done, Central Waters.


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Photo of cokes
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A thick, messy, mesa of stained ivory sits on top of the lightly hazed bronze-orange liquid. The head erodes over time, but leaves scree-slopes of lace all the way down.
The nose is all about pineapple, muskmelon, and lime. But the closer one's nose gets to the surface, the more variety of fruit is teased out. Apricot, tangerine, kiwi, lemon, orange, papaya....but those first three do the heavy lifting. Some toffee and breadiness add balance, but stay in the background. As does the alcohol. It's there, and it's not.
Taste-wise, it's re-shuffled a bit. All those same things are here, but in a different order, and with some newcomers.
Maltiness makes some elbow room with caramel, burnt toffee, and dates. All that ebbs as the hops force their way in, and malt takes up a breadier, backing role. Hopping is much more piney and abrasive than it was on the nose. Fruit is pushed down, though melon and pineapple and mango still are still integral. The strength of the hops rest on pine sap and resinous bitterness. The former forward fruitiness is now auxiliary. Earthier and danker now, but the booze is still barely noticeable.
Fleecy, full bodied, given perk and bubble by the steady, low-level carbonation. It's heavy, but it's not heavy. And that's how good DIPAs go.
There is a world class DIPA in here somewhere. It's got everything it needs. And while very good, with a small tweak or two this could be off-the-charts.
In reality, that's all nitpicking, and only because I really like it. I'll gladly hope for and anticipate it's return, as is, every year.

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Photo of blackie
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: new glarus pint, medium amber in color, average off-white head with some retention

s: very fruity hop aroma, vivid pineapple, passionfruit, mango, sweet orange, juicy fruits on an out-of-the-way caramel malt backing

m: medium-full body and carbonation around the light-medium range

t: sweetish caramel body with a big dose of fruity hop flavor, same set found on the nose but not as vibrant, sappy green pine, moderately bitter

d: drinks well given the pretty high abv

picked this single up at Riley's in Madison, consumed during an Isle Royale layover, notepad notes

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

4.0 A: Well hazed orange amber color. Two fingers of frothy off-white head. Retention is about average and lots of lacing is left.

4.0 S: Big citrusy hoppiness with orange leading the pack. Pineapple and grapefruit to follow. Clean malts with a light crystal malt vibe.

4.0 T: Like the nose, this is clean and drinkable. It's not too sweet or too bitter. It's just right. Citrusy hops again - orange, pineapple, grapefruit. Some pine as well. Light crystal maltiness with a moderate sweetness.

3.5 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Could be a bit creamier, but good enough here.

4.0 D: Solid DIPA. Easy to drink and with good flavors.

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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 ffejherb
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into special DFH glass on 5/9/11.

A – Hazy almost murky peach-colored liquid with solid two-finger crown of eggshell foam that diminished to a frothy patch and yielded swatches of sticky lacing.

S – Sweet juicy, fruity hops suggest pineapple, grapefruit and even peach paired with a strong resinous hop character and a fairly substantial alcohol presence. As the liquid reached room temperature, the alcohol only got stronger and more intense.

T – Alcohol presence is a bit obtrusive unfortunately, although the citrusy hop character battles for equal billing (although I think the alcohol wins out in the end). Malt character is sweet and biscuity. Finishes with a resinous hop sting and some citrus juiciness.

M – Medium bodied with a sticky, oily texture and modest carbonation. Finishes fairly dry with an aggressive hop bite and plenty of alcohol warmth on the palate.

D – Solid DIPA with plenty of hop flavor and bite, giving it an almost West Coast flair. However, the assertive alcohol presence hinders the drinkability a bit for me, making this otherwise excellent DIPA a bit of a chore to finish.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Closing up my summer season with primary attention to DIPA. Conclusion that this is a hard style to master. Many average version and few very good or more.
This one has a nicely balanced aroma. Sweet, fruity, citrus and mild grass. Firm malt backing balances nicely. Well done.
Nice dense off-white head. Orange amber and lots of bubble from etching on bottom of SN tulip. Attractive.
Fully bitter with less apparent hop flavors. Drys and lays heavy on tongue. Mild malt sweetness with nice fruit flavor (best part of drink, by far).
Moderate body and carbonated nicely. Drinks thick and reasonable smooth.
Excessive hops can take on odd flavors. This one has something resembling dog poop - old and turned over in the grass. Needless to say I'm not fond of it.
Drinkability is limited due to intensity of the bitterness and flavors I don't appreciate. Can't say I'm anticipating my next bottle. It's only okay, in sum.
In the end I stick with my initial statement.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in an in person trade with millah- thanks!!

A: pours golden with fluffy white head, heavy lacing and good head retention

S: big fruity hops on the front with tons of tropical notes including mango, orange and papaya along with some pine as well. A touch of malt at the end.

T: like the nose, big hop presence up front along with some sweetness. Malts come through in the middle with a hot alcohol finish

MF: high carbonation, medium body

D: another great beer from Central Waters. Nice tropical hops which reminds me of some of my favorite DIPAs. Everything is in balance.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.29/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, DLFarris!

Hazy orange and light copper in color with an off-white head that lasts forever and eventually leaves messy stick all the way down the glass.

Mild aroma, with some light citrus, bread, and caramel.

Bready flavor, with some mild citrus, somewhat high bitterness, and some sweetness. Relatively well balanced, but unexciting.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Just ok.

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Photo of Tucquan
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on 2011-11-23 in Columbia, PA

A - Hzy amber-orange with a 2-finger white head that fades pretty quickly and leaves mild lacing.

S - Pineapple, mango, sweet orange flesh and a dank basement smell that reminds me of the wooden keg we used to make hard cider.

T - Initially it reminds me of grainy candy corn with a burst of orange creamcicle sweetness; then some orange peel bitterness wakes up the taste buds and calms the initial sweetness. There's a raw/dank/stale and minty pine flavor I hadn't noticed in the aroma that compliments the rest of the flavors nicely and helps add depth to the aftertaste.

M - Light-medium body and carbonation. Raw, prickly, resinous.

O - I enjoyed this brew but didn't feel like having another one right away. The flavors and aroma were interesting to me. I liked it so I must be a fan of raw/dank/stale, citrus and minty pine :>)

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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 MattyG85
4.31/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. Label indicates bottling in March.

Appearance: Pours a very cloudy copper orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of off white head which fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A big hop forward mix of citrus, pine, and earthy hops with a caramel malt background. Citrus hops upfront with hints of grapefruit, orange, pineapple, tangerine, mango, and lemon. Also in the hop mix are some hints of spicy pine, grass, and herbal hops. Solid bready malt backing with hints of sweet caramel, biscuit, toffee, and grain. Very hop forward with a good mix of fruit and spice esters. Solid aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma hints, a sharp and bitter hop forward taste with a good mix of citrus and earthy pine. Big ripe citrus fruit upfront with notes of grapefruit, orange peel, pineapple, mango, tangerine, and lemon zest. Also a big presence of spicy pine resin. Floral, grass, and herbal hop hints as well. Solid malt background behind the big hops. Notes of caramel, biscuit, grain, and toffee. Overall very hoppy with a nice sharp dry bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very juicy and somewhat oily. Very drying and nicely bitter. Alcohol heat is fairly tame with the heavy hops.

Overall: A really good Double IPA. Nice sharp biting mix of hops with a solid caramel backing.

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Photo of MDDMD
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-golden amber color with a nice thick off-white head and good lacing

S-lots of grapefruit with tropical fruit and pine

T-grapefruit, pine, and some tropical fruit with a nice bitter hop finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth silky feel

O-a very nice DIPA with great aroma and taste

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into two pint glasses. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist.

Bottled On: MAR 2011

This was two months old when we took notes on this.

A: Pours a nice and hazy glowing orange color. Off white head reached about three fingers before settling down to 1 1/2. Good retention and decent lacing.

S: Interesting blend of grapefruit, pine, and mint. Pretty leafy and with a touch of orange creamsicle for balance.

T: As above, with a 'slight' touch of onion or garlic. Pretty earthy.

M: Pretty slick and sticky with hardly any alcohol presence. Our cheeks felt warm by the end of our glasses.

O: Pretty enjoyable, but this was a one and done for us. We just don't buy much in the way of IPA's that are north of 7% anymore.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden color with a thin wispy head.
Aroma smells like canned pineapples with sweet malts.
Taste is good but sweet. Lacks in the hops dept. so i taste mostly caramel malts. There is a weak hop presence but akin to maybe a pale ale or even amber. there is also a good dose of alcohol warming that lingers deep into the aftertaste.
medium body on the palette with a very aggressive bitterness at end.

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Photo of richkrull
4.71/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a very nice cloudy golden color with quite a bit of fluffy slightly off-white head on it. Great lacing on this beer as well. Heavy hop aroma with maybe a hint of caramel coming through. Flavor is definitely hoppy with quite a bit of citrus and pine coming through. It's a good tasting beer. No alcohol flavor at all despite being 9% ABV. Mouthfeel is light but the presence is known. Very smooth drinking beer. Overall a great tasting DIPA. I'm glad it's a Wisconsin beer.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Illumination is another beer sent to me by Mikesgroove. Thanks Mike; as usual, I am in your debt.

The pour reveals a hazy, copper colored body and a finger or so of off-white head. The retention is fairly good, lacing is spotty.

The aroma reveals a ton of citrus hops and just hints of malt.

The taste up front is all citrus flavors, with grapefruit playing the starring role. Next comes powerful pine flavors and bitterness. Hops dominate this beer, especially in the early going. The malt comes through toward the end, but it is only lightly sweet and it is inferior to the hop profile. Just a hint of warmth.

The bitterness is palpable in the mouthfeel, but the body still remains light and and well-carbonated.

I liked this one. Central Waters makes some good stuff.

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Photo of nrbw23
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a hazy golden amber color with a nice layer of white foam for a head. Head has great retention and leaves a ton of layered lacing.

S- Tropical fruits, pineapple, grapefruit, quite a bit of citrus and bit of a spice here too. A touch of pine.

T- Follows the nose really well. Tropical fruits, spice, citrus, and pine. A nice amount of bitterness to it. A bit of a malt back bone to balance things out.

M- Medium in body and nice carbonation.

O- Very solid brew glad I was able to get some of these.

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