Not every independent brewery can claim to grow their own hops, but a local harvest is at the heart of Tangled Roots Brewing. Located in Ottawa, a town at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers, Tangled Roots makes use of the fertile surroundings to plant, cultivate, and harvest their own hand-grown hops and barley just south of the brewery's home base. Led by Louie Rizzo, the team is one of only a few breweries nationwide to grow 100% of their own hops and barley—a fact once commemorated in a special small-batch beer titled “Forty1 Eighty8,” referring to Ottawa's coordinates. As a trophy beer for everything that Tangled Roots stands for, it was a local beer down to its very label.
That fresh-off-the-farm spirit stays true at Tangled Roots' brewpub, The Lone Buffalo. Occupying a massive theater building from the 1800s, the facility repurposes a historic venue for a more modern craft—its rustic decor pairs well with views of working vats and other brewing equipment. Local farms are essential to the food there, too, as The Lone Buffalo stuck up a partnership with Slegel Family Farms (a well-known livestock farmer) and other local produce suppliers to strengthen the bond between the restaurant and region at large.
In the kitchen, Executive Chef Brok Kellogg keeps his finger on the pulse of what the community’s farms are harvesting at any given time. The result is fresh local fare served within a 10,000 square-foot, two-level loft—and paired with excellent beer born from Illinois soil. What a way to experience Illinois Made.
Tip: All these hand-harvested flavors are only a quick drive from Starved Rock State Park, too, making it an ideal way to end a day spent hiking, boating, or simply gazing at the waterfalls and gorges that make up the natural playground.
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