The ultimate destination for our recent vegan road trip was Pig Minds Brewing. They are a 100% plant-based (vegan) brewery and taproom. All the food and all the beer is vegan. Awesome! We were really excited.
We arrived right after they opened and immediately ordered the flight. all ten of their beers in 5oz glasses for $15. A good deal as far as flights go. Most of them I have had were only four beers. I am not a big beer fan, but I was determined to give them all a try to figure out if I liked any and hopefully take some home to share with friends.
With the beer on the way, we ordered some appetizers and settled in for a long hangout session. Laura ordered the appetizer special which was polenta fries with harissa sauce sprinkled with green onions. They were really good. The texture was just right: a bit of crunch and soft on the inside.
I ordered their artisanal pretzels. It is not often I see a soft vegan pretzel. It came with two sauces: a beer reduction and an agave mustard. Both of them were fantastic. My expectations for the rest of the food were quite high now. The beer reduction sauce turned out to be great on the polenta and regular fries. They need to think about bottling that stuff up and selling it alongside the t-shirts. Yum.
For my entrée I ordered the black bean burger (mushroom free, yay!) It came on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole spread, and a delicious smoky chipotle aioli sauce. I removed one of the tomato slices; two of them were too much. The combination of flavors and textures made my mouth very happy.
Garlic mac and cheese sounds great, but it wasn’t. It didn’t have much flavor. It was slightly sweet and the sauce was very runny. Beer reduction to the rescue! I mixed some of that in along with a touch of the mustard and it saved the mac and cheese. Even our server commented on the mac and cheese not having much flavor.
Laura ordered the Korean BBQ tacos made from soy curls. She enjoyed her dish. The fries were also really good. I tried a bit of hers and was glad I ordered the burger. You can read what she thought of her dish on her blog.
It was about this time that a clear winner for both of us had emerged as far as the beer went. Mine was Old Man Withers an English strong ale aged for a year in Elijah Craig bourbon barrels. It was strong at 10% ABV. I really liked how it tasted smooth, especially the hints of cinnamon at the end. Check out Laura’s blog to see what beer she liked.
Gluttony mode fully engaged, we ordered dessert. I had the daily special which was chocolate mousse on top of a brownie covered in a blueberry compote. The mouse and brownie were so good. I didn’t have a problem finishing them even though I was very full at this point. The blueberries didn’t have much flavor and only seemed to contribute color and shape.
Laura ordered the brownie covered in a coffee stout and peanut sauce. The peanut sauce on the brownie was so good. I could have just had that combination. My dessert would have been better if they swap the blueberries for that amazing peanut sauce.
The space was very easy to find just off one of the local main roads. It was also near the Rockford Speedway which was in full gear while we walked in listening to the roar of the screaming engines nearly one mile away.
Inside, we were greeted warmly. We had our choice of seats and chose one near the windows, so we could admire the blue sky. It was just a tad windy to sit outside.
We both really enjoyed our time at Pig Minds. It was a destination for us and it lived up to our expectations. They have only been open for a couple years, and their business seemed to be doing great. I liked the atmosphere. The server was attentive, but not pushy. Even though she wasn’t vegan, she was knowledgeable about the food and beer selections. They also had good music playing for the several hours we were there.
In the end we ended up taking some beer home for us and our friends. I was disappointed they wouldn’t put the old man withers in a howler/growler. They said it was a too limited run. I didn’t like any of the others enough to take home.
If you are in the area, I strongly recommend you take the time to visit Pig Minds and even if you are not in the area. Drive over. It is worth it. I know we will be back. They are only a few minutes from I-90 on the way to Chicago from Minneapolis. Good vegan food and beer, what more can you ask for in a taproom?
Pig Minds Brewing Co
4080 Steele Drive, Machesney Park, IL 61115