3 Iowa Beers to Drink Now!

beerbaronI couldn’t do just 1 Drink This! edition this time around as the state of Iowa is sending out so much great beer I had to do three! As we approach the 2017 Coralville Brrr Fest and with the program released this past week anticipation is mounting for ticket holders to get a taste of Iowa’s finest breweries and beers. Within the last 5 days I’ve had the opportunity to try 3 amazing beers from 3 amazing Iowa breweries. So here are three beers the you have to DRINK NOW!

img_0990**Big Grove Brewery – Buster Triple IPA** – Buster released this past Tuesday and I knew for sure I had to hit Big Grove and try this baby fresh. Mosaic hops shine with flavors of juicy fruit gum, tropical fruits, and some grassiness. A wonderful dank ass triple IPA. There is one thing that can be bad about this brew…it’s scary drinkable. An 11.4% ABV triple IPA can definitely put you on your ass if you don’t pay attention! This might arguably be the best or one of the best double/triple IPAs in the state. Follow this link to see my post on where it will be available and they also just hit the Cellar Peanut Pub in Pella with a hell of a lineup! So good, can’t wait for another glass! Cheers Big Grove!

 

IMG_0992.JPG**Lion Bridge Brewery – GAZPROM 2017** – I’ve been waiting for this release since last year. Lion Bridge takes the shitty, dark, long ass month of January and makes pretty damn enjoyable with their Barrel-Aged January releases. A new release, every week, for the month of January and all barrel-aged beers. I’ve loved the Winter Warmer and the Royal Wee but the big dog for me is GAZPROM!. The sweetness from the syrup is the perfect balance to booziness from the barrels. I say this a lot but this is a top-tier beer for me….maybe top 10? Top 5? Either way, I can’t wait to have more of this and thank you Quinton and Alec and Lion Bridge for making January tolerable!

 

img_0994**Madhouse Brewery – VIP Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter** – was happy my Mt. Vernon Road Hy-Vee had a few bottles of this, wasn’t sure if we would see it all. I had been hearing good things coming from the fine beer folks in Des Moines and was hoping to land one of these. I’ve been hit and miss with vanilla added to my beers. Sometimes I dig it when it’s not over they type vanilla extract and with Madhouse VIP I’m really digging it. The slight sweetness from the vanilla pairs with the barrel and just a faint hint of cigar smoke on the aftertaste. Viscous, tasty, and warming. An excellent companion to a chilly January evening.

There you go Iowa. Three newer beers for you to try. Hopefully all 3 make it somewhere close to your area and you get a taste, and hopefully you enjoyed them as much as I did/do! Cheers!

Best “New” Beers of 2016

2016.pngOh yes, another Top 10 list. Everyone loves to read a top 10 list; either to trash it, agree with it, discuss it, or do all of the above. My top 10 list of favorite “new” beers of the year has certain criteria to meet. The beer must:

1: Be a beer I had not tasted previously

2: Must be available for purchase at Eastern Iowa breweries, restaurants, or liquor stores.

That’s it.

This list could easily be 25-50 beers deep, but I finally got it down to 10. Last year my list was a tad excessive so I refocused, recollected, and thought long and hard. This is purely subjective and I know I probably left one off that made your list so feel free to respond with your top 10, top 5, or just your favorite of the year. So, without further ado, in no particular order, the Baron’s Top 10:

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**Prairie Pirate Noir – I just had this beer this past weekend and was absolutely blown away. Part of 4 variants released recently in Eastern Iowa and this one was my favorite of the 4. All very good, but this one stood out. Rum barrels shine a bit more in this beer than in Pirate Bomb! A very viscous stout and perfect for a chilly Iowa day. I would love more of this!

mondos**Reunion Tank Puncher – I hope folks were able to try this beer from Reunion and I hope they decide to make more of it as well. This was my entry into my family beer festival and eventual gold medal winner (back to back for me :). This is the perfect beer for the tropical hop crazed beer lover. Reunion was out the last time I checked, let’s hope they get this one up and rolling again!

lion-bridge**Lion Bridge Gobble Wobble – take a traditional style brown masterfully done by Lion Bridge and age it on Wild Turkey barrels…what do you get? An excellent cold weather brew! The taste from the barrel pairs well perfect with the nuttiness of the brown to give you the a great companion to warm you up this winter.


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**Kickshaw Pipo– watermelon shines in this sour/blonde beer from Kickshaw. Stocking up on this one as I’m looking forward to a few glasses of this during the summer months but damn it sure is tasty along side a salad and even better with some fish tacos! Looking forward to more from Bill and Kickshaw!

img_0804**Summit Unchained: Dark Infusion – this beer made my Drink This! write up. You can view that here:  https://iabeerbaron.com/2016/11/05/drink-this-summit-dark-infusion-coffee-milk-stout/. Summit gave us one of the best stouts of the year IMO and luckily I’m still able to grab four packs of this from the shelves. Almost chocolate covered caramel with some coffee splashed in. Stout lovers will rejoice for this brew. No need for barrels, this is perfect as is.

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Odell Jolly Russian– I must have a thing for rum that was apparent until drinking this and Pirate Noir. So many great barrel aged beers available to us this year and I was happy to get a chance to try this one. The dark roast and coffee flavors blend nicely with the rum barrel. I would love a few more bottles of this!

big grove**Big Grove Brewery Richard and Pralines – keep the barrel-aged year going with a brew from a local brewery. Big Grove has made their mark with some great pales/IPAs and their popular Richard the Whale and variants. This variant adds a bit of sweetness to Richard. If you can still get a pour of this, order yourself an Arms Race as this warms and then you’ll be in for a real treat. With the opening of the new brewery on the horizon it will be interesting to see what Big Grove has in store for us! 

pulpi**Pulpit Rock Loopy Lynn – a relative newcomer to the Iowa beer scene and right across the street from TG, Pulpit Rock has become a big time player making some awesome brews! I had this double IPA at a Pulpit tap takeover at Blackstone Restaurant in Iowa City and was blown away. City shines though on this juicy double. I really want more of this!

**Pulpit Rock For the Joy of Almonds – liquid Almond Joy. Amazing beer on its own or for dessert. Pulpit takes their milk stout and ages it on toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, and almonds to give you silky, smooth, delicious stout. Pulpit brews are starting to pop up more in the Eastern Iowa area. Need Pizzeria in Cedar Rapids has had them on frequently and Reds Alehouse is starting to get some kegs as well. Great things coming out of Decorah.

toppling goliath**Toppling Goliath Double Dry Hopped Sue – How do you make an already impressive and sought after beer more impressive and sought after? Double Dry hop that bad boy and that’s what Toppling Goliath did with PseudoSue. More hops equals more hazy goodness from this beer. Hopefully this makes a return this summer as this would make a fine companion to some grilling in the Iowa heat.

Honorable Mentions:
Odell Elephunk, 3rd Base Friends Forever, Pulpit Rock Mighty Fine, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Coconut Rum Reserve, Lagunitas High Westified, Prairie Apple Brandy Noir, Big Grove Raspberry Que Sera.

There’s the list. There were some beers I wish I could’ve tried but missed out on, there were some that would make many lists and some that made mine but not even scratch the surface of yours. My New Year’s Resolution is keep trying to get to the Iowa breweries. I would love some more Alluvial and 515 in my life. I would love to see what beers made your list. Maybe it’s time for another Best of Iowa poll? Happy New Year!

And the Best Pale Ale in Iowa is……

 

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big grove1st Place – Big Grove Brewery Arms Race Pale Ale

 

 

 

 

silver

2nd Place – 515 Brewing Passe 515

 

 

 

 

 

bronze

 

toppling goliath 3rd Place – Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue 

 

 

 

Once again, congrats to the winners. Next poll will open either tonight (Monday) or tomorrow and I’m thinking it will be double/triple IPA category. Are there enough browns/porters/saisons/pils to do individual categories for those? I’ll research a bit and hopefully we can do all of those. Thanks for voting, thanks for the interaction and cheers!

Best of Iowa Beer: Pale Ale

beerbaronA new poll is upon us and with the past polls I’m hoping for some fun discussion and comments. Lion Bridge takes home gold in the barrel-aged/imperial stout category and Big Grove takes home the gold in the IPA category. Toppling Goliath dominates the entries in the pale ale field and is probably a clear favorite.

Of British origin, this style is now popular worldwide and the use of local ingredients, or imported, produces variances in character from region to region. Generally, expect a good balance of malt and hops. Fruity esters and diacetyl can vary from none to moderate, and bitterness can range from lightly floral to pungent.

American versions tend to be cleaner and hoppier, while British tend to be more malty, buttery, aromatic and balanced.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%

Once again, if I’ve left off a possible entry please shoot me a message so I can get it added. Voting will close next Sunday night! Good luck, have fun, and cheers!

 

And the Best Barrel-Aged/Imperial Stout in Iowa is……

lion bridge
gold1st Place – Lion Bridge Brewery Gazprom!

 

 

 

 

 

silver

 

2nd Place – 3rd Base Brewery Communist Daughter  third base

 

 

 

 

 

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3rd Place – Toppling Goliath Mornin’ Delight toppling goliath

 

 

 

 

Congrats to the winners! Thanks to all of those who voted and also reminded me I missed a few to add to the list. Great discussion with many of you on many of these great beers. On Sunday, I’m hoping to open up polling on “Best of Iowa Pale Ale” category. Once again, if anyone knows someone who does medals, I wouldn’t mind getting them to the winners. Thanks!

Best of Iowa Beer: Imperial/Barrel-Aged Stouts

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As our IPA (Big Grove, TG, Lion Bridge leading the top 3)poll continues on until next Thursday, it’s time to get another poll started! This time around we will be looking at the Best of Iowa Imperial/Barrel-Aged stouts. I believe the definition of an “imperial” anything is an ABV between 8-12. With this poll there are a few slightly below that 8% ABV but they are included. Once again, if I’m missing a beer please let me know. Also, for those who select “other” please comment on the beer you are voting for. Discussion is more than welcome as I’d love to hear what your gold, silver, and bronze beers would be!

I think the difficulty with this particular category is how hard some of these beers were to obtain. So vote for what you’ve had and liked the best!

Anyone know someone who could make up some medals? Wouldn’t mind having some to pass out to the winning breweries, not that they’d care, just think it would be cool to do. Vote on!

Best of Iowa Beer Poll: IPA

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With breweries popping up in Iowa I think it would be fun to see who everyone thought had the best of certain style categories that are represented at the Great American Beer Festival. Very proud and happy that there are so many great offerings. Obviously, due to location, some folks haven’t had certain beers so just vote on what you’ve tasted. Remember, this is IPA only, not double IPA, session IPA, pale ale, triple IPA, English IPA, Black IPA, Rye IPA, etc….just American IPA brewed in Iowa.

If a particular beer isn’t listed you can vote other or email me letting me know I missed something because chances are good I left something out. Vote for what YOU like best. For the brewery that wins I wish I could say I had a trophy or something for you….maybe I can get a medal made up or something, either all, this all for fun as I’m interested to see what people who read this blog or belong to the Iowa Beer Facebook group think is the best Iowa IPA. Discussion is welcome.  The first poll is BEST IOWA IPA:

India pale ale (IPA) is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale. The first known use of the term “India pale ale” is an advertisement in the Sydney and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.

Baron’s Best of 2015: The Final Chapter

best ofLet’s finish this drug out list off once and for all. With 2015 in the books, 2016 is starting out on a great foot as Lion Bridge’s Barrel-aged January has kicked off and the tapping of Royal Wee is a day away (Wed. 13th). Buster from Big Grove is getting released at the end of the month and Quarter Barrel has opened their doors. Lots of great things in store for Iowa in 2016.

*Big Grove Brewery Desperate Measures – this golden sour big groveale aged in Opus One wine barrels was released along the same time that Richard the Whale was for Big Grove. A well balanced sour that gives you that sour pucker but some fruit sweetness and bit of barrel that help this beer make the list. Would love this for a summer brew too!


nelson.jpeg*Alpine Nelson
– I never had the opportunity to try any Alpine beers prior to Green Flash acquiring them but I’m guessing that Nelson couldn’t have been much better than what we got in bottles…I could be wrong but I really enjoyed this beer. The Nelson Sauvin hop shines in this beer and goes perfectly with the rye malt. Lots of flavor, excellent balance, and extremely drinkable!

lag.jpeg*Lagunitas Born Yesterday – bottled and shipped the very same day? Yes, Lagunitas pulls this one off and the freshness of this beer really showed. Citrus and tropical fruits shine in this 6.5% beer and if it was readily available this would always be in my fridge. I hope Lagunitas releases this one again….so good.

*Lion Bridge Brewery Yard Sale – so happy to see this lion bridgebeer back on tap at Lion Bridge as another citra hop forward brew makes the list. I had this for the 1st time back in May and remember getting two growlers filled after my first taste. Such a great brew.

515*515 Brewing The Basil Protocol – I’m a sucker for a good farmhouse/saison which this beer is, but I admittedly am not the biggest fan of basil. I like it ok, just not a bunch, so when I tried this beer I went in thinking I wouldn’t dig it. I was totally wrong. The basil is there but it meshes so well with the cucumber and pepperiness of the saison to make a wonderfully refreshing beer. Not to mention enjoying it when it was 100 degrees outside…another perfect summertime beer!

firetrucker*Firetrucker Tropical Burn – might be one of the hottest (popular) beers made in Iowa right now and rightfully so. Huge mango and tropical fruits on the nose and on the palate. Galaxy and citra with fresh mangoes makes this a well-balanced double IPA. Very drinkable, but be aware of that 9.1% ABV.

*Big Grove 15 Minuteman – part of the “Citra Triad” release from Big big groveGrove. 15 Minuteman once again showcases the citra hop. Super smooth and refreshing, this is another beer that can get you into trouble because of it’s drinkability. Minuteman and Trident made for a fun couple trips to Big Grove over the holidays!

bells.jpeg*Bells 30th Anniversary Stout – I really loved this beer. It wasn’t barrel-aged but man, this was packed with flavor. Tons of dark chocolate, some dark fruit, and as with many stouts got better as it warmed. I wish I would have the restraint to have aged a couple but I saw them, salivated, drank them.

*Big Grove/3rd Base Que Amarillo – am I homer for Iowa big grovebeers or what? That wasn’t the intention but it’s hard not to be when so many of our local brewers are kicking out great beers and Que Amarillo is one that stood out to me. I could be wrong, but I believe this was brewed with Jim at 3rd Base Brewery…feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. A Berliner-weisse that is hopped to high hell with Amarillo hops. If you don’t like your Berliner-Weisses’ too sour, this one’s for you. Tasty and refreshing. Maybe if I ask Bill and Jim nicely they will keep brewing it?

calling.jpeg*Boulevard The Calling – Boulevard did a major overhaul of their portofolio in 2015 and some where hits and some not so much in my opinion. One beer that they did a great job on was The Calling. I admittedly am not a huge fan of their Single-Wide IPA so when I saw that they were adding a double IPA to their Smokestack 4 pack series I was excited to try it. Oranges and pineapple with a bit pine round out this heavily hopped double.

space.jpeg*Central Waters Space Ghost – an imperial stout that is brewed with ghost peppers. It sounds like a one and done beer as some of these can be overwhelming with heat, but this is beautifully balanced and gives you just enough heat but not overpowering to go along with the richness from the stout.

*Big Grove Famine – I got to pour for Big Grove at an famiineevent in Dubuque last spring. I got to pour Arms Race, IPA, Que Sera, and….FAMINE! What a treat that was. Introducing a community to this beer and to Big Grove was exciting and I would love to do it again. When people asked what it tasted like, Collin (fellow pourer) and I had to take a drink just to remind ourselves how good it was. Part of the Hopocolaypse series this past Spring. I hope to see a return this year as well!

Baron’s Best of 2015 Part 1

best of.pngI 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*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*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.

pulpi.jpeg*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.

razz*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*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*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!

Surly Nein Iowa Release Details

neinSurly Nein, an imperial smoked hefeweizen, will be hitting a few tap lines around Iowa in the coming weeks. Here’s more from Surly’s website:

We’re celebrating our 9th anniversary this year with the release of NEIN, an Imperial Smoked Hefeweizen. We want to celebrate with all of you, so starting on Monday, September 28, we’re having release parties for NEIN in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Chicago and Iowa. We’ll have NEIN on draft at all the events as well as NEIN merch giveaways, so come out and raise a glass to nein years of Surly!

Make sure to check out our event page for each party for details and get ready for NEIN to hit stores, bars and restaurants near you!

NEIN draws from the traditional banana and clove notes of Hefeweizen yeasts and layers on deeper toned malt flavors, a distinctly smoky character from oak-smoked wheat malt and charred “honeycombs” of white oak. All of the malt comes from Weyermann Malting, a family-owned operation in Bamberg Germany, which is the center of Rauchbier (smoked beers) in Germany. The inspiration came from a trip that our head brewer Todd Haug recently took to Bamberg to visit the Weyermann facility.Here’s the Iowa release info:

Iowa – Parlor City Pub & Eatery, Hessen Haus and El Bait Shop
Wednesday, Sept. 30, Starts at 4pm
Hessen Haus – 101 4th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Wednesday, Sept. 30, Starts at 5:30pm
Parlor City Pub & Eatery- 1125 3rd St. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Thursday, Oct. 1, Starts at 4pm
El Bait Shop – 200 SW 2nd St, Des Moines, IA 50309