Not all beer is created equal. In an age of mass-produced, large-batch, and over-hopped brews, it’s refreshing to find a place where beer is made to be enjoyed. Forge Brewhouse delivers as a place where smooth flavors blend together rather than assault your palate with a single ingredient. It’s also a place where craftsmanship is evident the moment you walk in the door.
A visit to Forge Brewhouse is like visiting a favorite neighborhood establishment. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the tone is extremely casual. Visitors here are encouraged to sit back and enjoy their selection, savoring both the flavor and the company of friends. There’s a TV on the wall, but you won’t find it playing the latest sports game. Instead, a shelf loaded with all manner of board games hangs just inside the front door. The result is a place that feels less like a bar and more like a second home.
Rest assured, there is always a large variety of beer styles on hand for all sorts of beer enthusiasts. The Sunrise Hefe is always on tap (as is the homemade root beer), but the remaining taps will vary throughout the season, based on the availability of core ingredients. With a total of fourteen taps ready and waiting, there’s always something new to be sampled. Teleporter, a chocolate hazelnut porter is a seasonal favorite—brewed with hazelnuts and cocoa nibs. Quiet Man is a malty sweet Irish Red with just a hint of roasted character and fruitiness. Fallen Apple is an apple infused beer locally-sourced cider from Jonamac Orchard. However, if you see Black Mamba on the menu, be sure to grab a glass when it’s available. Made with beans from a local coffee roaster, the Black Mamba is cold-brewed with the freshly-ground Ethiopian coffee beans and finished with a homemade black cherry sauce to give this dark lager a unique flavor that can’t be missed! It’s clearly a fan-favorite of the regulars!
Head brewer James Heinrich takes his craft very seriously. “We might go [from 10] to 15, just because there’s so many different beer styles, and it’s fun to make the different beers,” Heinrich said. “People are always asking for something different. For over a year, we’ve been getting a lot of people asking us, pub owners, restaurant owners, if they could buy kegs of our beer,” he said. Inspired by old-world European practices, his goal is for the flavors of each beer to blend. Visitors will always find a well-balanced selection of different types of beer available. Ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible. Hazelnuts from Chicago, apples, and pumpkins from nearby Jonamac Orchard. The grain is also locally-sourced.
Forge Brewhouse is more than just a taproom—it’s also a working brewery. In the back of the DeKalb location are the fermentation tanks as well as the cold storage refrigerator. Everything is out in the open—visitors are encouraged to walk around and see just where their beer was born. No hidden rooms, no off-limits areas. There’s an air of total transparency—and real confidence in the quality of the product that pervades the entire establishment.
The plan is for all the brews from Forge Brewhouse to be exclusively sold in Illinois. The goal behind Forge Brewhouse is to create a place where visitors can come, unplug, learn about beer, and feel like they’ve arrived at a home away from home. They’re not out to become the next large-scale national brewer—rather, they want to be THE place that travelers to DeKalb County go to try the best beers in the area. It’s safe to say that they’re clearly on their way.