This blog is a companion piece to my blog about hiking in Matthiessen State Park. All three of these breweries are part of the Heritage Corridor Ale Trail passport so we figured, as long as we were down in Starved Rock County, we might as well hit all three of them.
Our first stop upon exiting the park was Back Door Lounge at Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center. Unlike other breweries on the Ale Trail, Back Door Lounge does not brew its own beer on site. They do offer a Starved Rock Signature Ale, produced by Leinenkugal Breweries, and a selection from Tangled Roots Brewing.
It’s small, but there is a great outdoor patio area that is shared with the Lodge. We chose to sit outside since it was a beautiful day. The Veranda is set on top of a bluff overlooking the Illinois River. So, the views were incredible too. Unfortunately, sitting on the veranda did not give us access to the menu of the brews on tap. And we didn’t know that until we were leaving, so make sure you order from inside before you sit outside.
Additionally, you can order food from the Lodge to eat in the Lounge or on the Veranda. There is also live music on Friday and Saturday nights, year-round, with the bands playing on the Veranda in the summer months.
The second stop took us to downtown Utica and Loti Tap House. This is another small location, but the beer selection was impressive. In these situations, I prefer to order a flight so that I can taste as many new beers as possible. As with Back Door Lounge, they do not brew on site but offer a variety from other brewing companies.
The beer selection is ever changing and from this menu I chose the Strawberry Milkshake IPA, the Sour Berliner Weiss, the Watermelon Saison, the Blonde Ale with Strawberries, and the Cream Ale. I do not care for IPAs at all, however, the Strawberry Milkshake was my favorite.
Loti Tap House has a decent menu and we opted to eat lunch here. If you are using the Heritage Corridor Ale Trail app and checking in at each location, Lodi Tap House has a 10% off food bonus.
Back on the road and heading home, we took one last detour into Ottawa, IL to visit Tangled Roots Brewing Company. We only entered the Tap Room because we had already eaten and wanted to sit at one of the tables outside near the street. Connected to the Tap Room is the brewery and a full-service restaurant called the Lone Buffalo. If you are using the Heritage Corridor Ale Trail app, they offer a $3 pint with purchase of an entrée bonus.
You can take a tour of the brewery on Fridays at 4PM or Saturdays at 3PM. Their beer selection also changes with the season. Opting once again for a flight, I chose to sample the Kit Kupfer Amber Ale, the Vermillion River Weiss, the Matthiessen English Mild, and the River Raptor Pale Ale. My favorite, to my surprise, was the Matthiessen. Dark beers are not my thing, and I definitely could not drink a whole pint of this one, but it was incredibly flavorful.
So take a day trip, do some hiking, stop at one of these establishments for food, and definitely drink some beer. It really does hit the spot after a long hike!