Only six months after opening, Pilot House Brewing Company in Aurora features and impressive lineup of beers, both in quantity and quality. Combine that with excellent service and a unique nautically-themed taproom and it makes the drive deep into the ‘burbs worth the effort.
BEER LINEUP: Pilot House brews many of their beers in small batches, which allows for an extensive and diverse selection on their 24 taps along with frequent rotations. All of the beers that I tried were solid and most went above average. The vast majority of the beers represent traditional styles from light kolsch to dark stout including several high-gravity choices. Pilot House also offers a handful of slightly more experimental beers like their Smoked Plum American Porter.
ATMOSPHERE: The coastal New England motif of the taproom offers a refreshing contrast to the typical industrial look of most suburban breweries. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the design, including the large outdoor patio, and the space truly reflects the owner’s New England sailing roots. Depending on the night the taproom atmosphere can range from relaxed and comfortable to busy neighborhood hub with events like trivia or live music. The taproom serves pizzas and a bit of snack food but the surrounding area holds plenty of restaurants where you can order food or do takeaway. The diverse crowd looked like mostly neighborhood folks, with some families, stopping in for a quick pint or two.
SERVICE: The friendly servers had an impressive knowledge of the beers, the brewing process and the brewery’s history, all of which they happily shared. Service was also reasonably fast and the brewery has a unique ordering system; order at the bar and they serve you at the table.
NEIGHBORHOOD: The area meets expectations for a brewery deep in the burbs; lots of small businesses in strip malls surrounded by housing. Given that restaurants, stores and service businesses populate all four corners of Pilot House’s Buckley Road & Quincy Avenue location you could definitely get a few errands done in combination with some tasty beers, or just make it a destination. Keeping with the suburban spirit, parking is close and plentiful.
STANDOUT BEER: Everyone in our party agreed that the Chardonnay Creme Ale was a unique and exceptional “wine-beer”. The brewing process starts with a standard Creme Ale then adds Chardonnay grapes, specialized yeast, and oak chips for an additional fermentation. The resulting beer pours dark-golden with relatively full body and a very smooth, balanced flavor. The initial Champagne-style bite and white-wine acidity give way to a light malt sweetness for a complex and pleasant overall experience.