Looking at Iowa Breweries: Madhouse Brewing; Newton, IA

I received in email a couple of weeks ago from Brody at Madhouse Brewing (www.madhousebeer.com) saying they were interested in sending me a sampler of some of their beers. Thanks again to Madhouse Brewing for the beer! Loved trying them! It definitely made my day and receiving the package in the mail was even better! They sent bombers of their Hopburst IPA, Coffee Stout, and their Oak Aged Imperial Red. Getting beer in the mail is a fantastic thing! A big thanks to Madhouse for the beers! Let’s break down these three beers:

*Coffee Stout- I shared this bottle with my wife and as we were drinking it we both thought that it was a bit thin or watered-down in the mouthfeel and were hoping for something a bit more creamy, but the longer that this beer sat out, the more flavor come through to make for a very solid coffee stout. Big coffee flavor, with a bit of chocolate, and roasted malts. Comes in 22 oz bombers. Let is sit out for 10 minutes, and then cozy up to the fireplace with it. ending me some of their beers to try!

*Hopburst- There are so many fantastic IPAs on the shelves today that it takes  a real special one for me to taste to keep coming back to it. Everyone is getting caught up in the West Coast styles and the newer stuff coming, and rightfully so, but we have a fantastic IPA brewed right here in Iowa with Hopburst. I would consider this Madhouse’s staple beer. A perfect balance of sweet malts and bitter/earthy hops makes for an easy-drinking, flavorful IPA. Iowa has seen many breweries start appearing on the shelves, and the style of the moment is definitely an IPA. Madhouse is right on with this brew, and if Iowa breweries are wanting to compete with these other breweries I do believe this is a style that must be made, and made very good or people or going to go in a different direction.

*Oak Aged Imperial Red- I think Madhouse has a great opportunity with barrel-aged beers because I believe their brewmaster is the son of winemakers over at Jasper winery? I could be wrong about that, but I think I read that somewhere. For them to tackle a big project such as barrel-aging definitely takes patience and shows their dedication to making good beer. The oak really stands out in this beer and is followed through nicely with the sweet malts that a red ale produces. This is a part of the Venture series, and I look forward to more of these, maybe a Pils aged in Chardonnay barrels? (Thanks beer counselor). Overall, a beer that is fun to share with friends, a fantastic first effort and step into the world of barrel-aging.

Overall, I’m somewhat concerned with the status of some of Iowa’s breweries. With the ever-growing craft beer market in Iowa, it must be difficult for brewers to keep up with times and now be challenged from the likes of Green Flash, Founders, and now Stone. It’s a great problem to have as a consumer, having more options, but, me, wanting to drink local, it’s tough to avoid the heavy hitters.  Not that Iowa breweries aren’t making good beer, some of them are making excellent stuff, Toppling Goliath is up there with some of the best beer I’ve had, Madhouse’s Hopburst should be in the fridge of Iowa hopheads,and Peace Tree’s beers are always good, but it seems that some breweries just think paying $9 for a sixer or $5 for a draft of mediocre beer is something that consumers are going to keep doing, I think they will find out that with distribution to our state becoming more frequent, that’s not going to happen as much as it did 4-5 years ago. The shelves do not have room for mediocrity any more, especially with all the garbage from Miller, Coors, and AB-Inbev taking up most of the space. Backpocket brewery in Coralville, state of the art facility, very good food, but the beer absolutely has to get better. Millstream, Iowa’s oldest brewery, some really solid beers, their attempt at a double IPA however, missed the mark completely.

There is much more promise now than ever; Backpocket has the resources to be great, and I think they will be! Toppling Goliath will be bottling soon and their beer is some of the best in the country, Madhouse is doing barrel-aged beer, Peace Tree has unique and great beers, and Reds’ Alehouse will be opening a brewery in Solon. The news keeps getting better, let’s hope that the beer does as well!

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