Best of Iowa Beers (Part 1 of 2)

beerbaronWith another year coming to an end it’s time to get to the “Best of” Iowa beers in 2017. It was a terrific year for our state and this year for my list (and opinions) I’ve done just strictly Iowa brewed beers whereas in the past I did beers that are on Eastern Iowa shelves along with Iowa beers. To get the list down to 10 was difficult and I had to drink many beers to get through such a dilemma.

Now, I must say, I haven’t been able to get to Central and Western Iowa as much as I would have liked so you will see this list filled predominantly with beers brewed in Eastern Iowa. I wish I could get more or any 515, Barn Town, Marto, etc…but it’s not in the cards. Hopefully with the new year we see some more Iowa beers from Central and Western Iowa trickle into our tap lines. So, once again, I just want to note that there are MANY beers I haven’t tried, I don’t want to cause I shit storm (RIP Lahey), but hopefully the new year brings me new beer.

Alright, my criteria:
1. It has to be a beer I haven’t had before.
2. Seasonal and annual releases may fluctuate in ingredients but I do not count them if I have had it the previous year.
3. Iowa brewed only

Without further ado, here is part one of two, in no particular order of the best Iowa beers in 2017 (according to me).

fire skulls**Toppling Goliath – Fire, Skulls, and Money – I was deciding between this and Supa Sumo and the deciding factor was how much of this beer I’ve bought. Price was a little steeper than some TG releases but worth it for this brew. I believe this was their take/rendition of a West Coast style IPA.  I found it to be less bitter than many west coast styles with an excellent citra punch. Could easily have two of this brewin a sitting. I’ve seen some bottles around yet and had one last weekend. Tastes great, go grab some!
The Deets:

7% ABV
Inspired by a trip to the West Coast, designed to capture the wild spirit of adventure and brewed to be enjoyed with friends. This rich IPA is for those with wanderlust in their heart and fire in their eyes. Join our Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Nelson Hops on a journey to the bottom of your glass

coconut.png**SingleSpeed Coconut Migration – My beer of the summer. The first time I had it was sample at Need Pizza, my wife got a whole pint but I was a bit apprehensive, wasn’t sure the pina colada thing would fly in an IPA. Took a sip…was hooked. Sought it out all summer and ended up back and Need and the Map Room quite often hammering a few of these. Give me this poolside or beachside and I’m in heaven. I’m not sure if this is year round or not but I’ve been seeing it a little more often. If you dig Pina Coladas and you’re a hophead, this is the beer for you.
The Deets:

7.4% ABV

75 IBU
American Double IPA, rested on toasted coconut
A Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. (Decorah, IA) / SingleSpeed Brewing Co. Collaboration Brewing with the guys from Pulpit Rock is like taking a vacation. This time around our destination is the tropics. If you like Piña Coladas and/or getting caught in the rain you’re probably gonna be feeling this beer. If you don’t like either of those things, well that sucks for you. We still recommend ordering one.

richard.jpg**Big Grove Jean Luc Richard – The first time I had this I thought maybe the setting of the event I was at played into how much I loved it, and it may have a bit, but I’ve had since the Kroul Farm’s dinner and it is still a spectacular beer. Like many barrel-aged stouts, the flavor in this one shines as it warms and the creme brulee flavors take shape even more. Is it considered “dick swinging” if I brag about how I’m the number 1 drinker of this brew on untappd, or is that just a pathetic brag? Oh well. Not sure how often Big Grove will be kicking this bad boy out, but if you see, go after it!
The Deets:

10.5% ABV
Barrel aged imperial stout with vanilla beans, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Inspired by crème brûlèe.

dangler.jpg**Lion Bridge Dangler – another awesome Iowa brewed IPA made it’s debut this past summer and was a hit with many. Lower on the ABV than some IPAs, which is not a bad thing, made for an extremely drinkable IPA with all the tropical and citrus flavors you expect from a great IPA. Lion Bridge continues to make excellent beers in many different styles. One of my favorite places to go for a drink and bite to eat in Eastern Iowa. Also, their nachos and fries with the lemon aioli are fantastic.
The Deets:

5.9%
Pair Mosaic, Simcoe, and Idaho 7 hops with a fruit-forward yeast and a malt profile full of wheat and oats, and the result is a juice bomb full of creamy mango and orange flavors.

kickshaw**Kickshaw Vidi – Even though Bill has moved on to other things (fingers crossed he brews again), this beer blows me away every time I have it. Bottles may not have strayed too far away from Eastern Iowa, I’m happily sitting on a few, but if you come across one, you need to give it a try. Of course, it’s not an IPA or barrel-aged stout, but a wonderful golden ale/saison with greatness from the brett. You like sours and saisons, then you would enjoy this.

Alright, there’s the first five. Five more to come next week. I would love to know your favorites of the year! Cheers to all the Iowa breweries and brewers out there; your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated!

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Winestyles Iowa River Landing Hosting Brrr Fest Blowout Sale and Madhouse Tap Takeover Jan. 26th!

winestylesBrrr Fest weekend gets even better as the Iowa River Landing Winestyles location is hosting a Madhouse Brewing tap takeover Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th during Brrr Fest weekend! Here are the deets courtesy of Winestyles Facebook page:

To help celebrate the BrrrFest Awesomeness, we will be having a 2 dayMadhouse Brewing Company Tap Takeover & BrrrFest blowout sale, Friday and Saturday:

10% off all Beer Sales (15% off for Beer Club members)

25% off a large selection of Beers!!

$2 off all Draws

Madhouse Tap Takeover Featuring:

Freedom Toast
New Release: Gin barrel-aged sour with juniper berries (yet to be named)
New Release: New England IPA (yet to be named)
Honey Pilsner
Hopburst IPA
Monk Town

We will also have some very special beer surprises available for purchase.

madhouse

Saturday Morning Glory @ Big Grove’s Richard the Whale Release

big groveFirst of all, my brother in law thought “Saturday Morning Glory” would be the perfect name for a tailgating beer, so any brewers that want to jump on to that go for it!

Big Grove’s Richard the Whale bottle release was the perfect way to start off your Saturday morning if you’re a beer lover. For this release, if you bought a ticket you received 2 bottles of Richard the Whale, 1 bottle of Richard Coffee, 1 Richard glass, and also the opportunity to drink many fantastic beers on tap. Even if you didn’t get a ticket, the beers on tap were still an option.

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So, to start off the morning I went with some Coffee Richard on tap, waiting patiently until that 10:00 tapping of Jean Luc Richard. What seemed like a simple bottle release was just a bit more at Big Grove. Along with all the tremendous beer on tap, the real treat was to be able to shoot the shit with the guys and girls who bring us this terrific beer. The opportunity to talk with the folks responsible for putting on an event, knowing there hasn’t been much sleep and some long ass days and they greet, smile and talk to everyone they can; so thanks to Chad, Danny, Rabbit, Doug, Matt, and Chef Smart..a terrific event and I’m looking forward to the next!

So many great conversations with the fellas from 7G, who are great beer conversationalists all the time, so cheers to Collin, Clint and Garrett from 7G! Also, Bob and Dave from Need and as always, the guy who should be in the Dos Equis most interesting man in the world commercials, Jeremy from Club 76.

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Richard and the variants tasted amazing, although I didn’t eat the buffet I’m kind of kicking myself as it looked terrific. Bellied up at the bar with a some great stouts I was offered a glass of Big Grove’s Easy Eddy from Mr. Swift. He told me they switched the yeast strain and what he poured came back as a hazy, juicy, hop bomb. It was delicious! Easy Eddy is tasting great right now folks! They also had a double dry hopped IPA on tap that was very tasty.

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Overall, the new space in Iowa City was perfect for hosting this event and the folks who run the show really knocked it out of the park. Beer, food, conversation, (not to mention the sweet ass swag BG has going right now), all made for a fantastic event. When Big Grove has their next release, there’s no question I’ll be there and there’s no question they will try to top how great Saturday’s Richard release was! Check out those sweet as Richard labels as well!  Cheers BG!

Drink These! Lion Bridge BA Gobble Wobble and Coffee Kolsch

lion bridgeA great time for some great beer here in Eastern Iowa. Many local breweries have been busting their ass with some spectacular releases and one of those breweries is Lion Bridge. Last week I was able to make it down and get to taste one of their seasonals in Gobble Wobble and one that we see every now and then in Coffee Kolsch.

Let’s start with the Kolsch. We visited Iowa Taproom last fall the first time I had it and I must say I was a bit apprehensive as I thought the Kolsch style with a coffee adjunct just wouldn’t be that great….but I was completely off in that thinking.

Here’s more on this brew:Our Herr of the Dog Kolsch with a healthy dose of Peruvian light roast coffee added before kegging. A delightfully different beer. Coming in at 4.6%

This is an anytime of day beer. The coffee nose is intoxicating and the flavor isn’t overpowering coffee but definitely there and delicious. I want this with my bacon and eggs or for a post meal drink. If you’re not into the Kolsch style I promise you’ll still dig this beer. Coffee and beer lovers can rejoice, Lion Bridge nailed it with this brew! I just hope it’s still on tap for this coming weekend!

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Onto the seasonal release of Gobble Wobble. There are many beers that mark the beginning of fall for me…Founders Breakfast Stout is one for sure and Lion Bridge Gobble Wobble is another! Here’s more on this brew:

Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels set the table, but this rich, malty brown ale is the main dish. No Thanksgiving table is complete without a glass or two of this hearty brew.

Gobble Wobble is an Imperial Brown ale that is aged in Wild Turkey barrels. This is the perfect beer for the chilly fall months as the nuttiness that the brown ale gives you is not necessarily consumed by the booziness of the barrel. Don’t get me wrong, the barrel is evident….and makes this beer even more delicious.

Get these and drink these two while you can, they may not be around much longer!

 

Guest Review by sLim: Barn Town Brewery

barn town.jpegThanks for the great review sLim!

A brewery that had a moderate amount of buzz surrounding it before opening in Spring of this year was Barn Town Brewing. It’s located in far West Des Moines, in a strip mall with several other new local businesses. Because of this, it’s nothing special from the outside but it does still catch your eye when you drive by.

barn town.png

Upon walking in, I noticed the old timey, country-ish decor and atmosphere that the name suggests they’d have. It’s not my fav per se but it’s well done and I thought the staff rocking flannel shirts was a nice touch. They feature a crowler machine which I’m glad to see more and more breweries switching to. The design on their crowlers is really neat too!

barn town2.png

Like a lot of breweries, they started out with just few of their own beers and nothing too noteworthy. Very quickly however, they made the smart decision to offer a bunch of different pale ales & IPA’s (7 out of 17 in their current lineup). Even smarter of them was for most of them to be the hazy variety that are made with popular hops like citra, mosaic, amarillo, etc. This definitely brings in the hopheads and on the Thursday night I was there, the place was full. The quality of the beers justifies this as all 4 beers I tried were fantastic and i’ve heard nothing negative about the beers here from anyone…hop forward brew or otherwise.

Beer menu link – Here are the beers I tried and my thoughts on said beers:

 

  1. Contrary Reaction (3.75/5) – Berliner Weisse – It’s a fun little sour, good balance of sourness and tartness. They mention an apple note which I got and it was pleasant

  2. Hop Skewer (4.75/5) – Hazy, dry-hopped IPA w/ el dorado & citra hops – Oh yeah, it was hazy alright. This was awesome, I knew little about el dorado hops going into this but I now know that I like them. The best thing about this beer was that it was juicy and not bitter…AND it also wasn’t dank. Sometimes these types of beers have a lingering onion-y note that I can’t stand. They also may have the cat-piss aroma. This beer had neither.

  3. Beggars Night (3.75/5) – Pumpkin and sweet potato ale – I enjoyed this; just on the brink of being too much pumpkin but you should know what you’re getting into when you get this style of beer. Smooth and a lot of flavor for a relatively low ABV.

  4. Chowdah (4.25/5) – Double dry-hopped DIPA – This was the one I’d heard about and that seems to have gotten some mention on the beer forums. I wouldn’t go as far as to say you need to try this beer but you won’t be disappointed if you do. I normally don’t like DIPA’s but this is one I can enjoy. Normally they taste like an IPA on steroids to me but this one was smooth and malty without being too sweet. There’s plenty of great hop flavor courtesy of the mosaic hop (which is my personal favorite…hop), but again…not overly so and there’s not much lingering bitterness. Give this one a whirl if come across it.

The beers were terrific and these guys have potential to make a bigger name for themselves if they start distributing. The final thing to try out was their food and man, they delivered here as well! Check out their menu here and you’ll find it’s a fun mix of burgers, “sandos”, wings, and craft mac & cheeses. The mac and cheese is very customizable and you better believe I was all over that. The pasta would have been great by itself but I added on some bleu cheese, buffalo sauce, and fried chicken and due to this, I was loving life. It was the best mac & cheese I’ve ever had. I’m just one person but as far as I’m concerned, Barn Town is now the best brewpub in the DSM area. You should go there if you like beer and other things that are good. 

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