Opened to the public in 2012, Quality Beer is Champaign-Urbana’s (or as the locals call it, “Chambana”) newest watering hole. Quality’s focus is on American craft beers; on tap they feature 16 small-batch beers, including a few pale ales, a wheat beer, stout and others.
The beers on tap, such as from Two Brothers Brewing Company and Flossmoor Station of Illinois and Founders Brewing of Michigan, are generally rotated with products from other small batch breweries. You might assume that a place named Quality Beer might be a beer-only bar, however, Quality has an impressive selection of not only liquor, but soft drinks too. No macro-brewed beer was on hand other than Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) which seems to have attained a cult status with the hipster crowd here in the middle of the USA.
Quality offers a wide selection of American craft beers on tap from Left Hand and Boulder Beer Brewery, among others. These specialty beers arrive in small quantities, which means new beers are frequently introduced during the week. Quality keeps an updated list of beers on a blackboard across from the bar.
Unfortunately Quality does not have a kitchen, but Pizzeria Antica located literally next door is happy to accept phone orders and will deliver directly to your table.
I was told that Quality frequently hosts beer launch parties and tap takeovers with local craft breweries. For the last 2 years, Quality has hosted a ‘Pinewood Derby’ race for gravity powered scale model cars in conjunction with Surly Brewing Company. Quality also hosted an IFPA event in March 2017 featuring Stern’s Aerosmith pinball and Two Brothers Brewing’s Pinball Juicy Hop Pale Ale.
Quality offers outside seating in the warmer months in their somewhat sparsely decorated but inviting patio area.
The owners, brothers Neil and Aaron, hail from a small town, and Quality was named after a grocery store in Watseka, IL belonging to their great-grandfather. A friend of theirs from Watseka did all of the retro-modern woodworking, from the walls to the towering bookcase; which is stocked with sci-fi and fantasy novels, old yearbooks, board games, and the Guinness Book of World Records for customer enjoyment.
Probably one of the most interesting things about Quality is that they have no TVs and no Wi-Fi. The bartender told me that this was on purpose- the owners felt that they wanted to offer a place where people could go “…to talk live to each other”.
In the game room you can find board games, ‘sharps’ darts, an iCade cocktail table arcade game and two of the newest Stern pinballs: Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy. Both tables looked like they had only a few games played on them and for all intents and purposes were in mint condition. There’s plenty of elbow room to allow you to get your game on without bumping into other players or the wall.
A small note about the darts area- if you are as duff at darts as I am, you will appreciatethat the entire wall behind the dart boards is cork. Really. Each dart board has an overhead lamp that nicely illuminates the playing area.
I’d urge you to give Quality a visit the next time you are in the Champaign-Urbana Illinois area.