Illumination | Central Waters Brewing Co.

264 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: 264 | Ratings: 918
Photo of mynie
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Central Waters ain't never fucked up/ but nothing" -William Shakespeare

A thick, cloudy honey colored x2IPA that kind of hits you right off, visually, so just by looking at it you know it's gonna be something.

And that something is... intense, well-balanced, but not all that exceptional.

Starts with thick, green hops. Piney and Citrusy. The middle is mostly piney with some more or less regular pale malt nodes kinda sorta balancing things out, and the end is just about the same as the start. There's absolutely nothing off about this beer, and in the world of double IPAs that's a feat worth rewarding. But it's missing any kind of zing--like an adventurous hop profile, or some crazy yeastmanship in the back end. That zing separates the great double IPAs from the good ones. This one is just good.

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

12oz single - probably my 4th sampling of this new DIPA

appearance: tacky label featuring a bright green hop - bright orange-copper body with a nice foamy white cap and strong retention

smell: bright citrus hops - tangerine, ruby red grapefruit, pine, bready

taste: impressive DIPA from a brewery that has never really offered up a great hop-centric brew. Very fresh waves of citrus flavor - tangerine, grapefruit, orange, lemon peel, pineapple. What makes this one a little different is the spicy rye kick and rustic bready notes. I dig this one - keep the special releases coming CW

mouthfeel: big, moderate bitterness, smoothness from the abv, spicy

drinkability: good

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

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Photo of jera1350
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
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 xnicknj
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at devils den in philly

Pours a hazed orange color with some golden yellow hues. Fluffy white head with filmy retention, rings and patches of lacing on the glass.

Really strong citrus, orange and grapefruit, heavy hop presence, bit of sweet caramel and honey as well to balance it out.

Nice bite of citrusy hops with grapefruit and rind up front. Very bitter, softer sweetness tempers it, bready caramel malt backbone with honey in the middle. Slight alcohol towards the finish, strong hop bitterness, a little dry and lingering on the tongue.

Medium body, nice carbonation, a little creamy and dry. Huge citrus, nice flavors and booze isn't out of control for 9%, would defintely drink again.

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Photo of warnerry
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
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 morimech
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
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 MattyG85
4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
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 +3.2%
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 tavernjef
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
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!

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Photo of gford217
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
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 DavoleBomb
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
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 woosterbill
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
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 +4.5%
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 Treyliff
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a tuliip

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Tucquan
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
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 blackie
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
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 garymuchow
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
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 macrosmatic
3.74/5  rDev -7%
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 alexgash
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
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%
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 MacQ32
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

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 homebrew311
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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 -18.2%
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 gatornation
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pours a beautiful amber/orange color with a perfect 1 finger head with clingy sticky lacing..the smell is mango.peach,pineapple,grapefruit..its a tropical feast for the follows with juicy hops/malty smells..the taste is exceptional it starts with a tropical barrage of fruit then some grapefruit infused hops..all balanced out with some sweet malts..a perfectly balanced dipa of supreme creamy taste..CW has hit this style out of the park.the mouthfeel is medium/full for a 9% and finishes in the end with a bitter hop taste in the back of the mouth that tells you that you want more..the drink ability is off the chart you just want another sip or another easy to down 2 of these very fast.exceptionally smooth ,creamy and very hoppy/ flavorful..very very recommended

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Illumination from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.02 out of 5 based on 918 ratings.
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