I always enjoy looking back on a year of great beer drinking and this year was probably the best. So many great beers to choose from and what makes it even better is that there are so many great beers brewed here in Iowa that will makes this list. Don’t get me wrong, tons of good stuff on the shelves, but bringing home a growler of fresh Arms Race or Workman’s Compensation makes it that much more special to live in Eastern Iowa and have the opportunity to support our local breweries.
This year’s list will be dominated by Iowa breweries, these are all beers that were/are available for purchase in Iowa that I had for the FIRST TIME EVER in 2015. You won’t see the Bourbon county’s or the KBS, I know that they change year by year but I’m going to leave them off this list. I haven’t visited a few newer breweries in Iowa which I know I need to. Everyone has their favorites, let me know what I need to try! 30 beers on the list this year and it was difficult coming to just 30. This is Part 1 of 5, let’s roll!
*Lion Bridge Brewery GAZPROM! – a russian imperial stout aged in rye and brandy barrels that Lion Bridge gets to us in the months Iowans need to be warmed up! January and February in Iowa suck, but Lion Bridge’s release of GAZPROM! makes them a little more tolerable. Plus, the tshirt released was badass too!
*Big Grove Brewery Buster – let’s keep the Iowa breweries rolling with a triple IPA that was released last Spring. Big Grove had a dominant year with their IPA releases and their Richard the Whale releases. This triple was juicy as hell and scary drinkable. Coming in at 11.3%, this bad boy could lead to a good night’s sleep.
*Pulpit Rock Mr. Hoppy Pants – one of the newer breweries in Iowa is located across the street from Toppling Goliath in Decorah. I was lucky enough to stop in and have a pint and loved what those breweries are brewing up. Mr. Hoppy Pants is a double IPA brewed on a rotating hop schedule so this brew might change from time to time. Not sure of the hops in the draw I had but I loved it. Aromatic and crushable, visit Pulpit Rock, they are an up and comer to keep an eye on.
*Exile Raspberry Bohemian – this one might keep some talk stirred as I picked this over their Cherry Bohemian and I think many folks enjoyed the cherry more..not me. I think I just enjoy raspberry in my beer more than cherry flavor, just a personal preference and that’s why Raspberry gets my nod over Cherry. Either way, both beers were great and I would venture to say that Exile nailed it with both of them.
*Turner Alley Czech Village Pilsner – a style that’s not as “sexy” as the imperial IPAs or the barrel-aged beers of the world, but a style that seems lost in the mix is pilsners. Travis at Turner Alley has taken what some would consider a boring style and made a crisp, refreshing, balanced pilsner that I would put up against most out there. Looking forward to see what Turner Alley has in store for 2016.
*Firetrucker Black Walnut Alcova Brown Ale – another “basic” style that seems like it got lost in the shuffle of beer styles, gets amped up with the addition of 100 black walnuts. This is a beer I can drink anytime of the year and that nutty aftertastes shines through making this beer a perfect example on how to make a great brown.
**Part 2 coming soon! Iowa brewery dominant so far. Let me know your thoughts!