Greats - The beers. The Rauchbier I had was awesome, not too smokey, not too sweet. The IPA is as described below. It is really world class. It has the hop flavor of nearly a Double IPA, but at 5.7%, not a heavy or high alcohol beer. I grabbed a growler, and am now looking for a regular excuse to get to Rockford.
Not so great - The neighborhood is a little scarey. I didnít let my wife in the reviews beforehand, figuring it wouldnít be an issue. So sure enough, we pull up, and there on the curb is a crack head desperately wanting some dough. My advice: go went it is light out. The food was very limited. We were wildly hungry - and ended up settling for pretzels.
Overall, I would highly recommend. There is nowhere in Chicago that has a warm, cool brewpub vibe inside like Carlyle has. I could have hung out in there all night - it was the ideal neighborhood hangout, and very casual and comfortable. Just not in the ideal neighborhood . . .
Being non-smoking immediately puts it right up there in my list of favorite places. What a relief to find this after visiting Millrose in S. Barrington. Downtown bar vibe, even after the walls and such have been redone. For $17, the bartendress set out a sampler tray of all 11 brews on tap. Good thing a friend and I were sharing, we had places to go afterward. Many of their beers had a nice complexity that suggested the brewmasterís been working at them for quite some time. The server knew her beers and was happy to discuss them. Interesting selection of grub: we had sweet cream cheese filled pretzels, which weíd never seen offered before, but which oversweetened our palates for beer tasting. Iím putting in a food rating just because their thin crust pizzas sure smelled good. Itís right off BR-20 right by the river, so itís easy to make a detour through Rockford and well worth stopping by.
I like the layout of this place, kind of like a neighborhood bar but with good beers on tap. And thatís the key for me. The eight beers that were available on my visit were all solid, the IPA very good. The staff was very friendly and the crowd agreeable. The next time Iím in Rockford I will definitely be stopping in again.
gws57 (92) Saint Charles, Illinois | November 19, 2006| Updated December 18, 2007
Went to Carlyle after an Icehogs game. What a nice surprise! Seemingly smoke free, although just a beer bar, which irritated the ladies, but we had a great time. Seemed very understaffed for the number of folks there, and there werenít nearly enough tables to accommodate everyone. Very nice decor, old stone and hardwood. See my beer rankings for my opinions teaser: The beer is outstanding. I will be back.
Went back, they now have an outdoor patio. Not sure if they allow smoking out there or not.
Located in downtown Rockford. An area forgotten by most people since all the businesses have moved out to the strip malls near the interstate. Brewpub has a local (some non-beer geeks) following. Locals were friendly, ambiance was inviting. No televisions or jukebox, but satellite radio provided background music. Certain nights are non-smoking at the brewpub. Large window overlooks State Street and there is (limited) parking in the back. Nice selection of beers to satisfy just about anybodyís beer taste. Limited menu, I only dined on the thin crust pizza which was very good. Carlyle is off the beaten path but a friendly brewpub thatís must stop in Rockford.
Brigadier (310) Chagrin Falls, Ohio | April 30, 2006| Updated March 22, 2007
Stopped here on the way to Dark Lord Day. My only complaint is that it happens to be all the way across Rockford from the interstate which means dealing with about 450 stop lights. Still, it was a great place to stop and I would do it again. The selection of beers crossed a wide variety of styles, although I only tasted two since I had to drive later. At $1.00 per sample the prices werenít too bad either. There is not much to the building but it is well set up. It certainly has a brewpub feel to it; in fact it felt like a pub that happened to serve food because the menu is fairly thin. Check it out if you are in the area - Tuesday and Thursdays are best because they are smoke free.
Update : As of January 2007 they are now smoke free all the time
Had a good time here. Met some interesting people and had good discussions. The beer was overall great and Iíd definitely go back. Excellent service from fun tenders. Lots of different styles were available. They should axe smoking altogether. $10.50 for 8 samplers. They call it "walking the plank".
SubstanceT (114) Saint Louis, Missouri | September 14, 2005| Updated February 7, 2007
Food looks better. Now serving pizza and is now NON smoking!
So it is located downtown not exactally in the best part of town but I dont think anyone would feel unsafe here. Cool atmosphere brick wallks bar and some tables. Nothing more than that. The beer menu is about like 9 or so when I was there. They had a sampler of all their beers that was 12.50 but I really think that the price depends on how many you get. Beer is not bad. If you are in the area go check this place out, besides woodmans it is the best beer thing to happen to this town.
TheEnemy (44) Chicago, | September 10, 2005| Updated March 25, 2006
WARNING: EAT ELSEWHERE. The food here is barely an afterthought, and they donít even try to pretend otherwise. [EDIT: They have now started making thin-crust pizza that is actually quite good, but there still isnít anything approximating a full menu.] This place is all about their beer. They make no attempt to distract you with anything else, including their sparse menu of sandwiches. Never packed but rarely empty, this is a nice space to enjoy a quality pint. Exposed brick wall to the east, bar to the west, a smattering of tables in between, and a large windows to the brewhouse all along the east wall. Beer quality is surprisingly good too -- not something I would have expected to find in Rockford. Tap selection is not terribly expansive, with about 7 offerings at any given time -- but theyíre all high-quality offerings. Even their light beer is flavored with rose hips so itís worth trying. During a recent 2-hour Saturday afternoon visit, I counted 17 growlers brought in for refills. That kind of repeat business says it all about the beer quality. If youíre driving through the area, by all means take a detour into downtown Rockford and give this place your business.
P.S. Congrats to Carlyle for earning a spot in the 2006 Page-A-Day beer calender.
Nice place in downtown Rockford. Not many people there when I went with my son (which is nice to not have to worry about people smoking,) but it was only 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday. Bartender was very accommodating and wanted to make our stay as best as possible. Well lit and good ventilation when a few smokers showed up. Had nine different beers on tap when I went, including a bourbon barrel imperial stout and an imperial IPA. A trip that was enjoyable and worthwhile, and a standout in the world of brewpubs.
JMerritt (72) Macomb, Illinois | October 27, 2004| Updated October 24, 2005
A great place. Beautifully laid-out. I usually visit there for lunch, as they have nice subs, pizzas and sandwiches (but thatís about it as for the food). Their selection of beers is nicely varied, as are their seasonal selections. Usually a nice place to visit and have good conversation with friends without having to yell over the music or other screaming people. I love that they donít allow cigar smoking (and donít allow smoking of any kind on Tuesdays & Thursdays).