Illumination | Central Waters Brewing Co.

265 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States

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

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Reviews: 265 | Ratings: 919
Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.34/5  rDev +8%
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 oregonskibum
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into tulip glass.

A: Color is a dark orange with hints of amber. Pours with a 3/4 inch slightly off white head that gradually fades, leaving some splotchy lacing.

S: Ahh, very nice. Greeted with huge hop aromas, pleasant combination of citrus and tropical fruits. Orange, grapefruit, pinapple, mango, etc. Some pine, earthy, almost grassy notes as well.

T: Taste does not disappoint. Hop flavors hit your taste buds early. Along with the citrus and tropical hops, I get more piney hop flavors mid-taste. Some bready notes appears mid-taste as well, providing some balance to the huge hop flavors. A light caramal sweetness is present as well, with some light honey notes creeping as well. Finish is pleasantly bitter and just a light warming affect from the alcohol.

M: Medium to medium-big body, moderate carbonation.

D: Wow, this was incredibly easy and enjoyable to drink. Compared to some west coast styles, I thought there was a touch more malt presence in the mid-taste that distracted from some of the hoppy flavors lingering into the finish. But overall, this was very easy (almost too easy) and enjoyable to drink.

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Photo of hu5om
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

split 12oz in 2 6oz tasters with newk340
a- fairly clear, golden orange. slight white head that becomes a ring of foam leaving excellent lacing.

s- bitter hoppy orange and grapefruit

t- big hops. peace out, palate. BITTER orange and grapefruit. linger on the palate, but in a good way. light pine taste as well.

m- sharp burst covers the mouth before fading away. average carbonation

d- delic. can't drink too many, but it's got that big hop punch that i love. well done Central Waters. I see the light!

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Photo of LiquidBread219
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= Poured like a dark orange color, nice foamy white head retained rather well nice lacing on this one.

S= The nose was good mainly got citrus notes with some pine notes and a caramel backbone in the nose.

T= Taste is just like the nose basically but the caramel backbone comes out a bit more in the taste.

M= Medium in body, I thought it would have a little more depth being that it was a Dipa but it was a good beer.

O= Overall, decent Dipa I've had better and I've had worse glad I had the chance to try this one decent Dipa

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Photo of hawks10
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle - Bottled May 2010 - Poured into my Central Waters pint glass...

Pours a fairly clear, golden amber color with two fingers of soft white head which sticks around for a long time, leaving lots of lacing behind...

A strong citrus hop aroma outweighs a decent amount of sweet caramel malt. Pretty straightforward IPA aroma, was worried the hops would have faded a ton in the 4 months since this beer was bottled, based on the aroma, I think they are still fairly prevalent...

A decent amount of bitter hops with a citrus twist hits you at first. They do seem a bit faded but still fairly tasty. The malt adds a bit of sweetness in the middle but really fails to take hold as the bitterness and dryness come back hard and linger well into the finish...

Medium bodied with good carbonation. Very bitter and dry aftertaste...

Would like to try this again, knowing it is fresh...

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Photo of Spica66
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this an extra from Alexander. Thank you Alex!

Poured from bottle into glass.

A: Slightly syrupy looking pour. Copper/golden color. Good head formation and carbonation.

S: Not a punch-you-in-your-face-look-how-much-hops-I-can-put-in-a-beer smell. Mostly deep malt smell with a bit of citrus hops.

T: Very malt-forward. The hops must have been mostly bittering hops, because they fight hard with the malt on your tongue to see whose boss. This is the maltiest DIPA I have ever had.

M: Super creamy and very well carbonated.

D: Couldn't tell the 9% at all. Very drinkable.

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Photo of dpnelson1978
3.35/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle into Duvel tulip.


A: Huge rocky head over a bright dark straw body. Sediment visible on the bottom of the bottle. Excellent head retention, generous cover, and thick rocky cover.

S: Pineapples and pine needles. Slightly sweet, and somewhat aggressive, but pleasant.

T: Strong citrus flavor on the front end, pine immediately after and following through to the end. Lingering bitterness, and a very slight caramel sweetness.

M: Light to medium body and fairly high carbonation. Hop astringency is the overwhelming characteristic of the beer's mouth.

D: Great beer to drink one of over a meal. Not really a session style beer even if you disregard the 9% abv.

O: Good beer, but not great. Hop heads will love this beer, but I'm looking for something with a little better balance.

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Photo of Bubba83
3.48/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Traded to me by Kegatron. Bottle -> Tumbler around 45 degrees.

Pours a hazy tawny orange, with good sparkling carbonation and a pillowy light yellow 2 finger width head. Darker than many DIPAs I'm used to on the west coast. A thing ring of head persists for a long period of time, and the lacing it leaves behind is moderate.

Smells like a whole hell of a lot of pine and dark caramel. Definitely smells east coast in style, but I haven't had much luck with east coast IPAs lately so I'm hopeful for this guy based on the smell because it's quite good. Maybe not so complex, but good.

Pretty malty for an IPA. Lots of biscuit and caramel flavors along with a tongue twisting raw bitterness. Hops are there at the end, more pine like there was in the nose, and maybe some citrus here or there. I was hoping to get a bit more hop flavor instead of such a raw bitterness, but it's still tasting good overall. Lot of caramel/butterscotch flavor in the swallow/aftertaste and a bit of heat.

The feel seems pretty heavy and damp. This falls in line with a lot of other east coast IPAs and tends to be fuller than the west coast style, and even a bit chewy. I think I like the full body better, but it's less refreshing than wehn I think of most IPAs.

Overall I think this is pretty well crafted for what it is trying to achieve. Seems like there's quite a bit of Simcoe in there. I'm always up for trying these east coast style IPAs/DIPAs, but I generally find the west coast style much more appealing. The alcohol actually does get in the way a bit and negatively impacts the drinkability, as does the bitterness.

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Photo of klikger
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- The color is medium-amber with a hint of redness when looking through the glass into the sun. A normal pour produces a 3/4 inch white head which dissipates within minutes but leaves behind modestly sticky lacing as the glass is consumed.

S - Honey, grapefruit, and a bit of pine. More distinctive nose than the majority of the (mostly very good) DIPAs which I've had recently.

T - Loads of maltiness up front and a nice combination of flavors. Although none of these stand out, at times, I taste oak, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Caramel is noted as it warms. Citrus helps to offset some of the sweetness after a few seconds in the mouth, but the malts continue to dominate until the very end. The finish is nicely bitter, and I can taste the hops for minutes afterward. The impact of the hops increased slightly as the glass was consumed, which was much appreciated. I can't in good faith call this a hop bomb, but it has enough to keep me interested.

M - Significantly heavy for the style. There's a lot of carbonation here, which helps with the overall feel.

D - In spite of the thick mouthfeel and malt-heavy front end of this brew, it's relatively easy to drink. Two bottles down, and if it weren't for my liver waving a red flag (in anticipation of a tasting tomorrow night), a third would be enjoyed.

I'm a big fan of Central Waters, and I probably had unreasonable expectations for this beer. It's well-crafted and nicely balanced, but this keeps it from being amazing for me. I crave the bitter, and this isn't the ultra-hopped masterpiece which I hoped it would be. That said, this is a very good beer.

Edit: After having a few more bottles of this and a pint or two on tap, I'm enjoying it more and more. This truly is a great DIPA, and I can't pinpoint a single thing that detracts. I'm sincerely giddy about the prospect of drinking Illumination for the next XX years.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.42/5  rDev +10%
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.

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Photo of daveytheformer
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an over sized wine glass.

Appearance is a hazy golden honey or light burnt copper. Tiny off white head that fades to some moderate lacing.

Smells like grapefruit, lemon zest, pine, lots of grassy hops and a slight malt backbone.

Taste is noticeably more malty than the aroma would give off with a present bitter aftertaste. Lots of grapefruit citrus, pine and an ever so slight alcohol burn on the finish. Very nice indeed.

Mouthfeel is medium with really nice carbonation. Spot On.

Overall is great! Had this on tap at Bazil's in Appleton, WI and immediately went to the liquor store and grabbed a 4 pack. Best Central Waters brew I've had yet.

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Photo of Nachojon
3.71/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Nice hazy golden color. One finger white head, give off some nice lacing. Great looking IIPA with nice color complexity in light.

S- Not the most fragrant Double IPA, it smells good, it just doesn't hit your nose the way you would hope it would. Some nice warm hops here and a citrusy malt background.

T- Dry hop forward. There is some nice citrus in this one but really not a whole lot going on. It has a pleasant flavor but not a lot of wow factor. I'd say a balanced IIPA if there ever was one.

M- Crisp and dry. The mouthfeel is nice. Obviously wish there were some tongue burn but not bad.

O- I really like this beer. However, for a IIPA this one doesn't stand out the way I would like it to. I could drink a ton of it and it's delicious, just not the best.

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Photo of jsulko
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip glass

Pours a bright orangish color with a foamy white head.

Smell is very grapefruity, citrusy with a slight hint of pine.

Taste is smooth with the citrus flavors dominating over the pine. A sweet maltyness at the end a slightly heavy alcohol finish

My first Central Waters beer as it is not available in Illinois. A good effort but not enough to shine over the major DIPAS

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Photo of Jparker37
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
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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Photo of mnbrewery
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: (8/12)
Very malty for a Double IPA. Surprisingly little hop aroma. Slightly reminds me of a barleywine. Some citrus, but very little.

Appearance: (2/3)
A quite cloudy orange. This beer looks like it could be a wheat beer.

Flavor: (16/20)
The taste is pretty malty up on the front of the tongue. Midway through, the hops show themselves. At the back end, it turns really hoppy and dry. Earthy hops as well as citrusy hops.

Mouthfeel: (4/5)
The mouthfeel is a little heavier than most DIPA's I've had. This version is definitely more malty and less crisp.

Overall Impression: (7/10)
This beer is a nice drinker, but the flavor isn't very crisp and the hops used in this brew would have benefitted from the usage of more citrusy, grapefruity varietals!

TOTAL: 37/50

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Photo of pdoran10
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

beer pours out a deep, thick dark golden color with nearly a full finger of lovely sticky head. smell is mango and citrus with resin. really pungent and exciting. taste is a bit of a let down compared to the smell. i get resin and a hint of pine strong up front with slight grapefruit as an afterthought. taste doesnt seem to follow the smell. mouthfeel is thick but good for a double ipa. drinkablity is good, but will assault your palette with hops the hop flavor isnt good enough to overcome this.

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Photo of Ek0nomik
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured In: Snifter
Purchased At: Steve's (Madison, WI)

I had this on tap at the Malt House around two months ago and it was fantastic. I saw one bottle left at Steve's and I knew I had to grab it.

Appearance: The pour is a clear amber and carrot orange with a finger of head that disappears quickly. There's very little effervescence, which has me happy as I expect the carbonation to be perfect right on the first sip. There's a few splashes of lace along the glass. Even with the final pour from the glass it's still clear; this bottle was filtered well.

Smell: The nose has a small hint of alcohol, caramel malt sitting in the background, with a load of citrus and herbal hops resting on top. Pine, grapefruit, mango and grass.

Taste: The beginning of the tasting starts out slightly sweet, with the bready caramel malt really holding the beer up. More pine and grass come through, with some citrus fruit including grapefruit, orange and mango.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, perfect carbonation right from the beginning.

Drinkability: This is a lovely beer, Central Waters has hit the spot with this IPA. This isn't a beer I could have many of in an evening, two at the most. As the bottle states, it really is a palate killer. The amount of hops in this just destroy the palate, but it's quite worth it.

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Photo of adman08
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Slightly cloudy, probably due to me pouring too much yeast from the bottom of the bottle. Straw colored. Very good head that stays around to the end and leaves nice lace on the glass.
S-Nice citrus with a bit of pine aroma.
T-Obvious malt presence. Good citrus hop flavor.
M-Malty, slightly sticky but not a bad thing. Good hop biterness with citrus tartness.
Overall a very very good beer. Very similar to New Glarus IIPA. Good hop and malt balance. This beer is very well respected in Wisconsin and rightfully so.

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Photo of boomer31
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Love all of CW 4 pack releases and have heard this compared to Hopslam?!?!

A - Golden and transparent. Little head that leaves quickly.

S - I get some sweet hop fruitiness here but more malt than hops. This is interesting but nice. I hope the 100+ IBUs come forward in the taste.

T - Here are the hops. Grassy hops. A deninite double IPA up front with sweet malt and bitterness only in the back. I can see where some may taste a bit of hopslam in this but it doesn't live up to it. The bitterness lingers but not overwhelming. Also a touch of alcohol which fits nicely in this beer.

M - Nice low carbonation and residual sweetness.

D - This is very smooth, sweet and drinkable.

A nice beer for CW. I would buy this again but won't seek it out. There is some sweetness but I'd like to increase hops in the nose.

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Photo of drewba
2.7/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

A - an aggressive pour wasn't a very good idea - we're talking a 4 finger head, but does give me a chance to check out its' white fluffy goodness and shows me that it has decent head retention. The beer itself is a cloudy blood orange color.

S - loads of orange and grapefruit, a hint of alcohol and stale bread with caramel.

T - This honestly has a dominating dish soap and windex flavor that hangs on and won't let go - it even goes into the aftertaste....It's as if palmolive accidentally put their Tropical Citrus & Pine Burst soap into a 12 oz bottle. The citrus in the front is fresh, inviting, bright, highly lemon peel and orange, then a grapefruit and pine bitter comes in sharply and hangs. I don't want to make this out to be a bitter bomb, but it is impressively bitter and seems to be sitting right on the center of my tongue not wanting to leave. A small amount of sweetness comes in the finish in the form of shortbread and caramel, then right back to that soapy goodness/gag.

M - Nice and creamy, bubbly with a pretty hefty body that coats the mouth.

O - The soap aspect dies down a bit as the beer warms, but not enough to redeem itself or for me to ever recommend this to anyone. The underlying fresh citrus and impressive bitter qualities mixed with a very nice mouthfeel are well done, but even those things can't save soap. Fucking soap.

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Photo of newk340
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: a golden hue with a thin head with moderate carbonation climbing from the depths of the 6oz sampler glass.

S: a strong citrus aroma that is very pleasing is omnipresent.

T: a very strong IPA that blasts citrusy hops onto the tastebuds, but quickly recedes leaving a hole in the palate craving more.

MF/D: a subtle buzz of carbonation compliments a smooth finish leaving the mouth 'illuminated.'

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Photo of Azurescens
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle with bottled on punch taken out of label between March and April, poured into snifter, reviewed on 4/6/11.

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden hue with off-white head that quickly fades to a thin film, some lacing left on glass.

S: Pleasant citrus hop aroma with some sweet malt and alcohol in the background.

T: Nice hop bitterness up front that is balanced nicely with a sweet caramel malt backbone. The bitter hops and sweet malt come together in complete harmony leaving my tastebuds thirsty for another sip. Finishes sweet and smooth.

M: Nice medium body and carbonation, nothing to complain about here.

O: Nice well balanced imperial IPA, not world class but well above average, very drinkable for its 9% ABV.

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Photo of mikul93
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A Pours a beautiful hazy orange/gold color with a small head that dissipates quickly. Nice lacing.

S Citrus, Pine and malt. It's not bold and in-your-face, but it's a nice smelling beer.

T Lots of citrus. Grapefruit and orange. Malt hits the middle of the tongue. Bitterness hits at the end and lingers. It's a nice linger.

M Very crisp beer. I thought it was nicely carbonated. Medium viscosity. A dry finish.

O This is a solid DIPA. So well hopped that my burps are delicious. (ha gross but true) Definitely should seek this out.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
4.41/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of Cfred371
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: Illumination pours a beautiful, translucent, orange gold. A head of a finger or so rises up top, and carbonation bubbles stream North.

Smell: Waves of dank notes hit the nose. Pine, resin, some hay notes, but stirring leads to more resin.

Taste: Hops are really the main show here. Pine, resin, some tropical flavors, though not terribly dominant. A nice example of an old school IPA.

Feel: Illumination is definitely well carbonated. and presents a medium body. There's some bitterness and drying in the finish, but I've experienced more intense bitterness.

Overall: This is a nice west coast IPA that's worth checking out. The dankness isn't overwhelming to the point that it detracts, but it is certainly the main show.

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Illumination from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.02 out of 5 based on 919 ratings.
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