Midwest Living Review
Downtown Champaign has a proliferation of Blind Pigs. There are two establishments with this name, just a block apart, which can be a little confusing. But beer aficionados or people looking for some old-fashioned pub ambience won't go wrong walking into either place. So what's with with the two Blind Pigs? They're under the same ownership, with similar decor and similar but not identical beer lists. The older establishment is the Blind Pig Co. on Walnut Street. One block directly west is the newer tavern, the Blind Pig Brewery on Neil Street, where beer is made on the premises. Big brewing tanks are right behind the bar, next to the taps. Over on Walnut Street, the Blind Pig Co. has a few tables out on the sidewalk in front. On a sunny afternoon, walking into the rustic pub feels something like entering a cave. Over on Neil Street, the ambience inside the Blind Pig Brewery is equally dark, but that tavern has a large outdoor seating area in the alley. The brewery has 14 taps, with four devoted to the seasonal house brews such as imperial stout, barley wine, hard cider and American pale ale (an amber beer with an almost fruity flavor and not too much of the usual hoppy bitterness). These beers are served direct from the tanks and never filtered or pasteurized. Customers can sample any five draughts for $8. The Brewery's back bar is from the antebellum era, built in 1859 for a tavern in Pennsylvania. The 200-year-old oak beams come from a local barn, and the booths and elliptical tables are originally from Svoboda's Nickleodeon Tavern, which opened in Chicago in 1908. You can feel the history in this place. Other bars in ChampaignUrbana have decent drink selections, but the Blind Pigs (especially the brewery) are at the top of the list for beer. Just make sure you know which Blind Pig you're going to if you tell someone to meet you there. Most beers are $4$8, with a few in the $10$20 range.