So, make a long story short, i grew up in this area but rarely visit these days. I decided to visit my good lifelong friend whom moved to a subdivision a few blocks from this place. All my friends in Rockford hate this place for stupid reasons. I thought it was just fine-decent brews, friendly staff and a decent vibe. People from all walks of life were on hand on the Saturday i visited in September 2017. I will re-visit everytime i head back to Rockford.
Update, October 2016, after half a dozen visits. The good news: the food is really excellent; apart from fries that were too salty once, I’m quite pleased; I’ve had the veggie burger, portabella burder, a roasted sweet potato app and chili and all have been quite solid. Yes, I’ve had better vegetarian and vegan food - but never at these prices in a restaurant. They’re not "gourmet" but it’s far from the veggie stuff that was available at most places 20+ years ago and they’re quite consistent (except for saltiness as noted above). And the service has always been really friendly. The bad news is that I’m finding the beer very inconsistent, sometimes across batches or perhaps even kegs of the same beer. It’s a pretty small system, and the brewing equipment is not closed off from the dining area, so I would not be surprised if cross-contamination is a problem. In any case the beer is decent more often than not, and the overall experience is very much worthwhile IMO especially for the non-carnivorous beer lovers out there.
First visit, July 2016. Being away from beer rating so long, I had no idea that this place existed until quite recently; on a secondary road and away from any highway, you have to look for it. It’s the hottest day of the year, so the inviting-looking patio was not in use by any patron, including me. Inside it’s an industrial-looking place, simple curved wooden bar and equally ordinary wooden tables and chairs. Personally, I like it. I didn’t try the food, but props for the all-vegan menu, a pretty cool idea especially in an area like this one - saw something like nachos go out to a couple of customers that looked enticing though. The beer - a mediocre Belgian farmhouse attempt led to a credible bluebeery ale and then on to a terrific strong "red ale" (I’d call it an American strong ale really), a very good strong IPA and a PHENOMENAL IIPA. Overall well above average and above what I expected. Very, very reasonable prices and you can get single 5-ounce, 12-ounce or 16-ounce pours of anything, plus flights and growlers. Given that this is the closest brewpub to where I live now, I will certainly be back, and I’ll give the food a shot next time.
Stopped on the drive to lacrosse. Easy parking in the lot. Place was busy but not packed at six PM. Bar seating was full but I took a small table. Brewing equipment on full display in the back. Stage for live music, and a band was setting up when i left. Service was a bit slow, not unbearable. 10 taps, and flights of 5oz pours of all ten were $15. All of the beers were pretty standard styles, nothing to out of the ordinary. Quality was really all over the place, from bad and obviously flawed to pretty solid. Odd, actually. I ordered chili and it was pretty Meh. Nice ambiance overall. Enough beer "hits" to make it worth the stop, but certainly not out in front of the pack.
(Visited 08/2014): Pig Minds is located on Steele Drive in Machesney Park, off North 2nd. There is a relatively large parking lot in front of the building.
There is a patio outside, and inside the brewpub opens to a large room with the wood-top bar weaving along the left side and rear, and table seating elsewhere. Red and salmon-colored walls, and brewing equipment behind the bar. A kind of disturbing looking ceramic mascot pig with a bird on his head wearing boxer briefs stares at you from behind the bar too. A couple TVs and cubbies with merchandise as well.
Pig Minds has 10 house beers on draught, and a sampler flight is available. On my visit the selection included 3 IPAs, Bitch Slap Irish Ale, Who’s Joe Daddy Stout, and a couple Belgians among others.The beers were decent, with nothing particularly standing out one way or the other.
Service on a weekday lunch at the bar en route to GTMW was good. The bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable.
As for the food, I was surprised at the vegan menu given the name, decor and vibe of the place. We enjoyed our food (garlic fries and nachos) but I imagine some people get genuinely angry when they discover there is not a traditional BBQ menu.
All in all this is not somewhere I would go out of my way to visit but it is a nice stop between Columbus and Madison.
Tucked away in a small industrial park near the Illinois / Wisconsin border, this brewpub has apparently been open for only a few years now. The atmosphere suggests a strong local watering hole with industrial roots. Exposed tanks and a bar facing the brewing area let you get up close and personal with the production process.
The beer selection is fairly extensive. Approximately a dozen handles range from sessionable IPAs to a heavyweight imperial stout. None of the beers here will have you rushing to make a detour but are generally on par with what I remember of Carlyle down the road. If you cannot decide on a single pour an affordable sampler lets you try eight different ones in four ounce glasses.
I would not go out of my way to revisit this place but if you are in the area it is a solid local destination. Hopefully I will get a chance to return to Carlyle Brewing and see how the two stack up. If I had to choose this may get the slight edge for ease of accessibility from the interstate. Flip a coin if you are having trouble making up your own mind.
Great place to stop off at in Northern Illinois right before you head into Wisconsin towards Madison. Great beer selection, of their own beers, great patio, free wifi, and plenty of seating for his out of the way place. I recommend a stop by.
This brewery isn’t far from I-90 right near the IL/WI border but of course we missed the exit and the next exit is 5 miles down the road. Luckily the beer wasn’t bad and the artwork was pretty cool. They have a large sculpture of the logo next to the taps (a pig in tighty whities sitting on top of a brain) and the logo all over the place. The beer names match. Boats and Ho’s, Southy Bitch Slap, Swine Flu Vaccine; some quality names. The beers were OK. The Say!Son! was nice as were one or two of the others. The service was very friendly and the food looked good but this was Sunday afternoon after GTMW so we only stuck around for about 30 minutes before getting back on the road. Might stop back in on the next trip to Madison.
This brewpub is by far the best experience I have had in Rockford in over 15 years. I been traveling to RFD for work and I kick myself that I didn’t visit Pig Minds sooner.
We sat outside, and the evening weather was perfect for enjoying their beer and food, so I can’t comment on the inside space. However, the sitting was comfortable and not to crowded outdoors; the hops were growing on the outside perimeter fence with little car traffic or loud music to disturb our dinner.
The service was excellent and accommodating in all respects.
The beer selection was great and each choice in the sampler of all seven drafts on tap was in style and well-crafted. My only comment on this, as echoed by my dinner companion, was the lack of a lower gravity beer (this is normally not a problem for me).
Above all their food and prices were worthy of my highest ratings. As a vegan being at the country’s only vegan brewpub, it will be all to easy to give PMB the best on that alone. The food menu had many choices to satisfy any-vore. Don’t be afraid of the food, carnivores, it is fresh and delicious.
What a pleasure to have finally made it to Pig Minds one-of-a-kind vegan brewpub.
I stopped in for lunch I have to say I had a wonderful visit. The folks at the brewery were extremely friendly and I enjoyed talking beer and food with them. Service was excellent! The place has a bit of an industrial feel to it and is spacious. I had a portabello mushroom on a pretzel roll which was delicious. Their menu is vegan and there are plenty of options to choose from. They had seven of their own beers on tap plus several very good guest beers. If I lived in the area I would be a regular for sure. This place is definitely worth a visit and if you are driving along I-90, you should make it a point to stop in.
Visited this past weekend and it was worth the wait. The building is really nice, you can tell they built it from the ground up, the brewing system is visiable right behind the bar area, seems really simple and nice. The bar area has plenty of seating with an extension off the main bar where the taps are. Plenty of seating and they accomodated our 13 month old son who was running around the place very well. Had 7 of their beers on tap, got a sample for $12 for all the samples and one guest beer. Prices are pretty cheap in my books, $4 for 16oz and $3.50 for 12oz. Almost all their beers are over 6% abv so that’s a lot of beer for not a lot of money. It was cold when we visited but it looks like they have a nice seating area outside with a garage door that opens into the building to let fresh air in on nice days, really cool. We ended up getting the garlic bread as an app and it was darn tasty, would be interested in seeing what all their food tastes like. All around, really solid place, we will be visiting again in the near future. Also, the staff was extremely friendly.