Updated January 2023
Excel Bottling Company in Breese, IL, specialty soda and craft beers have been keeping families in the region happy for over 80 years. How it all got started is an interesting story! The founder, Edward “Lefty” Meier, actually apprehended a local bank robber and received a reward for doing so. He took that money to purchase a used bottling machine he set up in his wife’s grandmother’s house. They eventually expanded the house and transformed it into a modern bottling company.
Independent Family Bottler
Excel is one of the few remaining independent family bottlers in the nation. They create each specialty soda with cane sugar and sourced syrups for that unique flavor. The best-known drink is the “Ski,” which came out in 1961 with a lemon-orange taste. There are over a dozen different flavors, including the standard cola, root beer, cherry Ski, Rummy (grapefruit), R-Pep (caramel, vanilla, and cherry), Black Cherry, and others. They also have a line of teas and water. Excel’s sodas are available by mail, in local stores, and at select restaurants’ fountains.
Excel Brewing began making beer in 2012 and has grown a steady following along with an increasing variety of beer. Nine beers are available year-round. Five were the original beers: Lefty’s Lager, East Side IPA, Southside Stout, a German-style rye Schwarzbier named Böse Roggen, and Flash Bang, a wheat ale. The more recent four are an IPA, two citrus blends, and another type of Lager.
But like most of today’s craft brewers, the company also develops seasonal beers, celebrating different flavors throughout the year. The current brews include Winter Warmer, the malty English-style strong ale perfect for cold nights, a Mexican amber lager named El Pistolero, a classic American pilsner, and everyone’s favorite, an Oktoberfest.
Excel is also offering what they call “Specialty Beers.,” Winter choices include a Baltic Style Porter aged in rye whiskey barrels and Black Breath Imperial Stout, brewed with roasted barley and pale chocolate malt. Additionally, choose either Forbidden Island, a New Zealand Double IPA, or a Pumpkin Ale.
488 S. Broadway, Breese, IL
Visit their website for fun recipes that call for a mix of the company’s popular sodas with beer or liquor. For instance, Excel Lemonade and Lefty’s Lager combine to make a super-refreshing Beer Shandy. Or blend Excel’s Rummy Grapefruit Soda with champagne, and you’ll have a mimosa for your next brunch.
With an ever-growing lineup and such creative ideas always brewing, With their specialty sodas and beers, it’s easy to see why Excel Bottling Co in Breese, IL, is a Clinton County favorite after all these years!