Illumination | Central Waters Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
263 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 263 | Ratings: 905
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.

 535 characters

Photo of chicagobeerriot
4.41/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep amber with a medium veil and a generous downy head.

The pillow of head lets loose a fruit salad of smells on the nose: Mango, strong pineapple take the lead, but there's a interesting cake batter and bread mix hanging out in the background with just a faint pine smell.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with enough carbonation to bring out some of the citrus flavors to come.

West coast purists may not love the taste, but I think the flavors are pretty spectacular. It starts out with the rich mango, pineapple and citrus flavors that were present on the nose. A strong malt backbone emerges with caramel and sweet wheat bread notes. Only then do the hop jihadis get their way: a pine and lemongrass punch fades in and leads you into a deep satisfying bitter finish. A really well crafted tour of IPA flavors.

 818 characters

Photo of GoldenJet
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

To start, this beer is just plain gorgeous - like if you were making a beer commercial, you'd probably pour Illumination into the glass regardless of what type of beer you made, cause it's just that perrrrty.

Taste is no different - almost perfect in my mind. Loads of pine, citrus, and quite a bit of malt (which isn't overpowering); the finish is super clean - not a lingering hop bite, just a smooth remembrance of what you just tasted, leading to the next sip, and the next one, and the next . . .

For a Double IPA, this is quite possibly one of the most sessionable out there (Pliney, Abrasive, and Hopslam being others). But really, the winner here is the craft - just a well-made, under-the-radar beer from what's becoming one of my favorite breweries.

This one is not to be missed.

 792 characters

Photo of Genghis22
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a light honey colored copper. Big fluffy off white head. Moderate carbonation visible, looks pretty thick, yum! Lots of big sticky lacing.

S - Lots of sweet ripe citrus. Hints of peach and mango. Tropical. Floral and grassy pine notes are there as well, but the sweet tropical fruity esthers dominate.

T - Yum indeed. Earthy hops and biscuit malt at first. The sweet lucious fruity hop flavors come in next. Peach and mango for sure. Lemon grass and clementine then give way to some piney bitterness. The finish is dry and more bitter, but not overwhelming. The sweet fruity flavors do remain on the tongue. Alcohol is completely hidden.

M - Medium to full body, coats the tongue nicely. The carbonation is much more active than the appearance would suggest. Tight and prickly carbonation hits the tongue and keeps the tongue excited and alert.

O - Wow, why haven't I had this before? This was bottled in March, and I was apprehensive about reviewing it. This bottle was awesome and I can only imagine how it would be fresh. This beer is very tasty and easy to drink. The abv is completely hidden. Yum!

 1,116 characters

Photo of YouSkeete
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy orange/copper with a finger thick off-white head. Fresh aromatic hops, bubbly citrus zest, whole wheat and creamy malts. Big, full, strong aroma overall. Blast of fresh bitter hops with spicy orange peel and honey malts on the first sip. Boldly spicy with a lot of earthy hop flavors. Hop bitterness follows through into the sticky, mildly nutty aftertaste.

 362 characters

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.

 855 characters

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.

 513 characters

Photo of derkfromwi
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Half-inch white frothy head that thins to a thin layer with awesome retention (whole glass), slightly hazy golden orange color, lots of carbonation, very appealing lacing

S: Awesome smells, fresh hops, sweetness, grapefruit, orange peel, earthy, lemon

T: Bitterness (to be expected as it's 108 IBU's), grapefruit, earthiness, sweet orange, bitter palate wrecker is right

M: Smooth, medium-bodied, good carbonation, oily

O: Very good Double IPA, I look forward to this every year, I think it was a touch tastier on tap last week, but I'll have to do a review on that soon to be sure

 588 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Murky looking body of orange/copper. Thin dirty white head on top. Lacing is quite full. Balanced out aroma that isn't too forward in any specific area. There's pine, but also citrus. Hop resin and also fruitiness, with tangerine and orange providing the underlying fruit aromas. Flavor is quite good and quite balanced as well. Malt base is crystal based and the hops provide a little of everything...subtly. Grassiness, bitterness, fruitiness, smokiness....good stuff all together. The bitterness is not scathing at all. It's there, don't get me wrong, but not too abrasive. This is a well done DIPA. Wouldn't expect anything else form these guys.

 649 characters

Photo of jjanega08
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A= This is the last of my four pack so I figured now is the time for a review. The color is a nice semi hazy golden amber color with an excellent two finger head on it holding pretty steady with excellent lacing on the glass.

S= The most pineapple I've ever smelled in a beer. It actually smells like pineapple juice to me. What kinda hops were used in this? Other than pineapple I'm not sure how to describe this. A slight citrus slight pine smell???

T= The taste is initally pineapple juice again. Wow, I've tasted pineapple in a beer before but nothing like this. There is a little extra citrus bitterness in the mid pallate and the finish is a little pollon bitter hoppiness but I'm being picky there. This is pineapple all the way.

M= A nice light carbonation. Maybe a little less carbonation would be better but there isn't much wrong with this.

D= Again as I have said throughout this review... This beer tastes sooo much like pineapple to me. The finish does get a little hoppy bitterness to it but the taste is pineapple. Unbelieveable. This beer is worth seeking out just because it's so different.

 1,112 characters

Photo of BeerLover99
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: cloudy deep yellow/orange body, big 2 finger head, outstanding lacing display.

S: big earthy pine, with orange peel and lemon zest, wonderful scent

T: sweet citrus (orange, lemon, slight pineapple) up front, nice mellow pine in middle, loooong firm bitter finish

M: med/heavy body, oily/sticky

O: Central Waters = delicious beer! This is another great brew. Highly approachable and 9% well hidden in the layers of flavor. I should have picked up more than a 4 pack. Must put this brewery on my list of ones to visit this Summer. I am thrilled that this beer is available to me.


 602 characters

Photo of crossovert
4.49/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The local store finally got this in. 12 oz brown bottle. Says it was bottled this month, nice.

It pours a hazy cidre/orange color. The head is white and foamy and leaves very nice lacing behind.

This one smells pretty damn awesome. I'm glad I got it super fresh. It is bursting with hop scents. It has a nice candied orange peel, some mild mango, and some grapefruit. I love smelling the tropical fruit bombs, tasting them is hit or miss, we shall see.

This one tastes pretty damn awesome too. The ample amount of bitterness accents the fruitiness nicely. There is a lot more pine and grapefruit peel in the flavor which I like. I love mangoes and citrus and pretty much all tropical fruits, there is only one that irks me and it is pineapple, there doesn't seem to be much of it here luckily. It has a nice mineral water flavor to it as well. It is a very finely crafted DIPA. It isn't an out of control hop bomb, and isn't too sweet. It definitely is leaning towards bitter but it isn't the most bitter DIPA you will find. The resinous hops seem to stick in your mouth forever with a lasting bitterness.

The mouthfeel is decent but not perfect for this one. All that bitterness leaves a bit of dryness.

Much like say a hopslam, this one is a dangerously drinkable brew, especially with a hearty abv. It is immensely quaffable.

Central Waters had me with their stouts, now they have me with their DIPA. This brewery is really starting to make more and more quality beers.

 1,479 characters

Photo of bsp77
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint. Brewed in March, 2011 according to the label notch. Fresh!

Appearance: Hazy honey-gold with foamy sustained head and great lacing.

Smell: Wonderful aroma of tangerine, pine, mango, pineapple and some light toasted malts. Sweet, dry and almost tart all at once. I hope this tastes as good as it smells.

Taste: Onslaught of fruity, tropical hops. Some caramel and toasted malt backbone, but it is kept to a minimum. Finish is spicy, bitter and pine-like with some lingering tartness.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium smooth body, extremely dry finish. A little bit of a warming feeling after each sip.

Overall: Just a fantastic DIPA - one of the best I have had. I love that it is so dry and hoppy that it is borderline tart. I had only had Central Waters Glacial IPA before (which was somewhat disappointing) but I may need to try more from them after this beauty.

 930 characters

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.

 300 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my imperial pint glass the beer is golden orange with about two fingers of bright white head. Great retention. Lots of sticky lace left around my glass.

The aroma is fragrant bouquet of piney resinous hops and tropical citrus fruits. It's like mangos and grapefruits rolled in fresh pine needles. No malt getting through in this one. I could smell this all day.

The flavor is simply a mirror of the nose. Full hop blast but no shredding bitterness. It has a mango/pineapple/grapefruit smoothness. Like the sweeter side of those fruits. The piney kick is there as well but not until the finish. Spot on perfection.

Medium creamy body with solid carbonation. Light dry finish.

Overall another straight up winner from CW. Super flavorful and hoppy yet easy enough to have more than one in a sitting. Paul is steadily becoming one of my favorite brewers.

 867 characters

Photo of nickapalooza86
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this afternoon into a pint, I really like the way this one looks in the glass it is a beautiful orange with a good cloudy haze with no sediment.

It smells of orange, mango, pinapple, citrus all way it is a citrus bomb in the nose.

It tastes just like it smells oranges, mangos, pinapples an other citrus fruits all the way through to the end where a malt backbone and a good bitter bite really come through.

mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth. Very nice.

I really like this DIPA, this is the first year I have tried it but it will not be the last. I wish this was year round.

 587 characters

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into Tulip.

A. 3 fingers of head. Very good retention. Thick lacing. Nice hazy orange color. Label is pretty ugly.

S. Smell is tropical fruit. Very citrusy. Grapefruit and Pineapple. Big Hop Smell. Up there with some of the best DIPAs that I have had.

T. This is a super smooth drking DIPA. Taste is more of citrusy hops. I really don't get very much piney flavor, which is a good thing for me. Has that honey sweetness that you get from Hopslam. This is more bitter than Hopslam.

M. Medium bodied. Medium carbonation. Nice DIPA feel. Touch of lingering sweetness.

D. This beer is extremely driknable for a big DIPA. It goes down super easy. This is a very good DIPA at a very reasonable price. Thumbs way up to Central Waters on this one.

 769 characters

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.

 665 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tangerine gold with a pale-like glow. A creamy densely packed ivory foam sits on top with might at just over a finger high. Slowly sifted down to a heavy skim remaining the entire class through. Caked on lacing in very thick sheets and shelves coat the glass intently well.

Freshly buzzing hops are boldly set on the nose with a citric, tropical, floral front that has peach, mango, pineapple, and sweet pink grapefruit. The citrus dances around with a bit of floral freshness thats a bit weedy/cannibus tinted. Nice.

Taste is far more rounded and duller in sweetness of citrus. The citrus is there but mashed up into more of a darker aged marmalade. Very deep and darker peach, mango, and pineapple, mix together with a bit of pale and caramel malts. Then we come to finish, which totally turns it up big, full, and dryer, while being bittered with grapfruit peels and pithy citrusyness. Cheek parching grapefruity floralness sits last and remains there for quite a lengthy seat on the palate. Again, nice.

Clean, robust, creamy even, and a nearly full body that slips alot of citrusy action taking place all over the place. Excellent finish. Just bitter and drying enough to grab the palate but not pushy as to keep you from taking more sips. Complex hoppyness across the board. A favorably yummy Impy IPA form Central Waters!

 1,331 characters

Photo of Beerlover
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Has a cloudy golden color. smells of sweet hops and tastes very similar to another double ipa I have had, couldn't put my finger on it at first but then figured out it was Bell's "hopslam". for about 4 bucks cheaper (taking into consideration the four pack this came in over the 6 pack the bells comes in)a good deal. if you see this one and like hopslam you gotta try it!

(had again this year {2013} and liked it just as much if not more than i remember liking it last year, awesome double ipa, better than hopslam was this year in my opinion!)

 546 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Central Waters tulip.
9% ABV, Bottled On MAR notched on the label. (2012)

A - The sexy sound of the beer pouring into the glass is music to my ears. A densely packed cream head rises quietly and sticks around for a while. Thick, chunky lace coats the glass above a hazy goldenrod yellow-orange-colored beer.

S - Mounds of pine needle and sticky, sappy resin overthrow the inevitable grapefruit citrus nose which is nice for a change. Usually it's the other way around with the American hops, though this beer is certainly not without plenty of tropical fruit aroma. A hearty malty sweetness full of dense bread and caramel cube balances the hops well.

T - The taste reflects the nose quite well. A more powerful pine resin flavor opens up leading into a sweet malty backbone that immediately gives way to a tongue-bruising, teeth-hurting citrus bitter kick. Other nuances pull through after the initial shock of the hop-roundhouse kick to the face wears off. Notes of honey-drizzled toast and a slight spicy yeast component share a low-level spot-light with a very subtle alcohol sensation.

M - The alcohol is almost non-existent in this beer save for the miniscule warming finish and light solvent aroma passed through the olfactory upon retronasal breathing! The medium-full body and light, lively carbonation don't do much to mask the severe bitterness that carries through the finish but the balanced sweetness helps tone down the well-deserved hop-smack. I can't think of a thing I'd change here.

O - Illumination is a great beer from home-boys Central Waters. In sticking with their mantra of "balance, even with big hops" as it were, Illumination serves up plenty for the huge hop head but remains different enough to stand out in a sea of hop monsters. Delicious and drinkable, especially for the high alcohol content, Illumination is a double IPA from Wisconsin that makes me proud.

 1,923 characters

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.

 496 characters

Photo of Snow81
4.57/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Light glowing orange

Head: Thick white head

Smell: Big floral hops with a light malty grassiness, light citric

Taste: Light citric, little floral and a maltyness that is very low

Weight: Medium to light body

Finish: Sticky on the lips with big floral hops and sweet grass

 288 characters

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!!!

 283 characters

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...

 855 characters

Illumination from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.03 out of 5 based on 905 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!