The first time I ventured over to 25 O’Clock Brewing Company, pints and growlers were for purchase in a small, backroom space, but seating was limited to a creekside patio. My husband and I enjoyed the brews and the ambiance on a warm fall evening, but it’s Illinois, so that weather wasn’t going to stay.
Fortunately, 25 O’Clock spent this winter transforming from an outdoor bar to full-service taproom, so we can enjoy their beers feeling toasty and warm. After their social media post announcing that they had soft launched their new space, my husband and I swung by to check out the expansion and their latest libations.
The brewery, located just a few blocks north of Main Street in Urbana, went from hosting a dozen people outside, to taproom for fifty inside. The space is still a work in progress, but with a substantial bar space, twinkling string lights, and pleasant attitudes, you can visualize the potential. Everyone was seated at the bar, and everyone knew the beer tenders, who were friendly, welcoming, and quick to refill. 25 O’Clock makes you feel like you stumbled into the neighborhood bar, and then moved right in.
I started with the Skylark Saison ($5, I’ve got a soft spot for them). It’s listed on their board as “a bit funky,” and to no one’s surprise, it is. It’s a fun, light option with the fruity, spicy touches that make it a reasonable choice this time of year — or any. I then switched to the Come Hithery ($5), their farmhouse ale. Maybe it was the warmer January weather, maybe it was personal preference, maybe we’re all ready for Spring, but this drink was delicious. Made with verbena lemon, it’s straightforward in grain flavor. The lemon ratio is spot-on, balancing out the dry and tart.
My husband ordered Blondie Johnson ($5), a Belgian style blonde. Light in color and flavor and low in both malt and hops, he declared this solid for craft beer newbies. After, he dived into a darker selection, the Possibly Porter ($5). A beautifully roasted beer weaving deep chocolate flavor through each sip. It’s an after dinner drink, a dessert substitute, or if you’re bold, breakfast. They tap new beers often, and rotate regularly, enticing their fans to keep coming back for more.
We enjoyed their winter offerings. They were memorable and relatable; we love drinking beer and we loved these, but I could also see people from all walks of beer enjoying 25 O’Clock’s brews as well.
The taproom doesn’t serve food, but they do have food truck options that visit. We didn’t sample from C & C Food Truck, but it’s always great to have that if you decide to make a date night out of your visit. You can bring your own food; the space has hosted large group potlucks. As we sat there, people funneled in and out getting growlers filled, which was probably a popular option pre-new space. Everyone who came in got a cordial welcome, and I suspect, many have become regulars. We were able to park nearly in front in spaces free and available after 5 p.m. According to their website there are metered (until 5 p.m.) spaces on the north side of the building, and there are several unmetered on the south side.
As we sampled and visited with the staff, we learned a bit about the scope of their work. The beer is focused, and the staff is excited about being an addition to Urbana’s downtown scene.
25 O’Clock Brewing Company
208 W Griggs St
Su, W + Th 5 to 8 p.m.
F + Sa 5 p.m. to midnight
Photos by Jordan Goebig