Kroul Farm/Pullman Bar and Diner Beer Dinner #3: Best gets Better

 

Year 3 of the Pullman/Kroul Beer Dinner is in the books and just when you think they can’t top last year’s event, Chef Ben Smart and staff roll up their sleeves and do just that. Sunday’s event wasn’t exactly fall-like to start the day as temps were in the high 80s, so a tip of the cap for sure goes to the Pullman staff as they slaved over open-pit fires to cook up our terrific meal. Even though it was hot early on, the weather chilled a bit as the sun set and you really can’t beat the ambiance of sitting at a Kroul Farm picnic table with friends as you sip a beer or glass of wine and get served some of the best and unique food I’ve had. Cheers to the Kroul Family, Cory Kent, Chef Smart and staff, this is my favorite event of the year! Onto the food!

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DISH #1 – Pan con Tomate – Bread, Heirloom tomato served with Broadbent Vinho Verde
Bread with a tomato puree? Sounds simple, and it is, but it was delicious. Local tomatoes with olive oil and salt put on top of some grilled bread and a glass of white wine, great start to the meal!

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DISH #2 – Sea Urchin Bavarois served with Broadbent Vinho Verde 
I had never had sea urchin before, but now I want sea urchin more often. The dish was presented and looked similar to a chowder dish with some charred sweet corn and that’s exactly how it tasted. Almost like a mix of a chilled lobster bisque/lobster chowder and the added local sweet corn really made the dish stand out. This was one I would have taken a whole bowl full of, excellent dish.

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DISH #3 Cedar Plank Salmon with slow roasted grilled lemons, herbs, shishito peppers, squash, and olives served with Prairie Standard Saison
Admittedly, I’m not a huge salmon guy, but, this dish was very good. Perfectly cooked salmon and a squeeze of some of the grilled lemon and tons of fresh dill on top made this a dish I could eat often. 3/3 so far Pullman crew!

DISH #4Potato Gnocchi with pumpkin puree, chanterelles, pistachio pistou, La quercia guanciale, and sheep’s milk cheese served with Prairie Standard Saison
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dish as I’m hit and miss with pumpkin but this was a home run dish, from the presentation of being served in hollowed out pumpkins to the execution itself to the flavors. The gnocchi with pillow soft and combined with the pistachio and cheese with a little bite of the crispy and salty la quercia (pork cheek I believe) I had a hard time not finishing this dish in seconds. Blown away by this one. Keep it coming Pullman.

DISH #5 Duo of Kroul Beef – tenderloin, ribeye, and sauce bordelaise with mushroom pithivier, kale, carrot, currant, pine nuts, and aged balsamic, served with Trim Cabernet
I always look forward to the main course although the dishes leading up are just as terrific, but with this being Kroul’s beef that they were serving made it even more special. The beef was wonderful, perfectly cooked, tender and salted exactly how it needed to be. To cook for 110-120 people and execute it the way the Pullman staff did shows their talent, you worry about it being overcooked but that’s not the case at all. The beef was phenomenal but the thing that really sealed the deal for me was the Mushroom Pithivier, which essentially was a pie with sliced potatoes, mushrooms, and cheese. I savored every bite of it. Extraordinary meal!

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DISH #6The Space Donut – Sweet potato mousse, walnut shortbread, white chocolate goat cheese cremeux, pear, salted caramel ice cream paired with Cafe Amaretto
Onto the final course…dessert. I’m not sure how the staff could top last years parsnip cake served with Jean Luc Richard, but they came pretty damn close! The parsnip cake is my all time favorite dessert, hands down, but they brought out the big guns for this Space Donut. Chef Smart described it to every table how they concocted it and I’m not going to even try to replicate him, let’s just say it was tasty, eye-appealing, and very unique.

I’ve said this since the Kroul Farm dinner started 3 years ago and I’ll repeat myself again…this is a can’t miss event for food lovers, wine lovers, beer lovers, and people who just enjoy sitting and chatting with others. I look forward to this event every year and hope it continues. Thanks again to the Matt Kroul and family, Chef Smart and Staff, and Cory Kent for spoiling us once again this year! Cheers!

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BeerCast #5: Talking Drink Local Festival and Thew Brewing!

drink local.jpegWe were live from Thew Brewing in downtown Cedar Rapids for our 5th installment of BeerCast. We had awesome conversation with Mark Jensen and Matt Franklin from Cedar Rapids Brewing Society on their upcoming Drink Local! Festival which is happening this weekend at Benz Beverage Depot in downtown CR. Tickets available here. $25 now or $30 at the door. We were also joined by the proprietors Thew Brewing, Travis and Haley Flenker who talk about what is coming up for their brewery in the next few weeks. And of course, at Beercast wouldn’t be complete without wonderfully deep conversations from our host Scott and the rest of our panel. This will be the best hour and a half of your life! Check it out!

Une Annee Beers Hitting Iowa Shelves with Abu Nawas?

une annee.pngA little rumor making its way around has Illinois based brewery Une Annee is coming to Iowa through Abu Nawas and it sounds like it’s going to happen sooner than later. If you don’t know much about Une Annee they are Belgian inspired brewery with Belgian inspired beers located in Niles, IL. Expect sours, wild ales, lambics, stouts, and much more from these guys! Hopefully more information will trickle in, but this is an exciting brewery to hit our shelves if/when it happens. Stay tuned for more, in the meantime, check out their website to learn more about their brews: uneannee.com

 

Best of Iowa Beer (Part 2 of 2)

baron.jpgFinally, after a few weeks I’m finally getting back to finishing the Top Ten list that everyone’s been waiting for….(crickets)…..Anyway, with all the great things happening in the Iowa beer scene, every year making a list becomes that more difficult. There are so many breweries I would like to visit, and some I wish I could spend more time at. New Year’s Resolutions are always fun but sometimes get forgotten. I, however, will make one of my Resolutions happen…I will make it to some more Iowa breweries, I will continue supporting my local breweries, and I will continue supporting the Iowa Beer Community! Onto the final five!

backpocket*Backpocket 5th Anniversary Stout – many are hailing this as their Iowa Beer of the Year and it would be hard to argue. I thought I had missed out on this beer until a lunch trip to Backpocket Pilot Pub in downtown Cedar Rapids and to my astonishment, 5th Anniversary was still on the lines. After a Grinch-like smile, I went ahead and ordered one…..and then another….and then…kidding, only two but it totally lived up to the hype. If you still are sitting on bottle..you lucky bastard…

The deets:

12.3% ABV

Russian Imperial Stout

third base*Third Base Miserable in Mexico – I had this beer at the 2017 Brrr Fest (missing this year unfortunately) and was blown away. Jim has been making some great beers for a while now and has 3rd Base as an under the radar brewery.  Miserable and Mexico would have been the perfect beer to have these past few weeks in chilly-ass Iowa. Booziness from the bourbon, a bit of heat from the pepper and a ton of chocolate. Boozy Mexican hot chocolate..yes please! Well done Jim and 3rd Base!

The deets:

12.5% ABV

It all started when we put our “Endless Descent Into Ruin” imperial stout in a bourbon barrel and let it rest for 8 months. It emerged as “Miserable.” We then took Miserable and infused it with chocolate and chili peppers. Grown up Mexi Hot (Cold) chocolate

pulpi*Pulpit Rock Rechoncho – Another Brrr Fest 2017 beer and another imperial stout to add to my list. Another brew similar to a Mexico hot chocolate but with some added vanilla to it. Pulpit Rock has become a big time player in the Iowa beer game in a short amount of time and 2018 will be even bigger and better for them.

The deets:

12.2% ABV

Spanish for Pudgy – this decadent stout was brewed with Ancho and Chipotle chile peppers, cocoa, cinnamon, Mexican vanilla beans, & coffee.

barn town*Barn Town Brewery Pulp Non-Fiction – the new kid on the block has taken off pretty damn fast as a must try brewery! I finally got to visit and not only were the beers tasty but the food was excellent as well. Check out my write-up on Barn Town here: I was pleasantly surprised to this brew on tap at 30hop and have since seen some Barn Town pop up at a few other Eastern Iowa locations and hopefully we see them hit even more spots in 2018. A hazy, NE style juice bomb full of the murky, hoppy goodness!

The deets:

7%

A juicy & hazy NEIPA brewed with Simcoe, El Dorado & Citra. Roy-al-ly hopped!

lion bridge*Lion Bridge Majestic Beast – I’ve been a fan of all of Lion Bridge’s IPAs when released but it seems recently they’ve really upped their game. Dangler was delicious, they now have Triple IPA that’s been barrel-aged slightly and one that I hope that they bring back is Majestic Beast. A 7% IPA that is extremely drinkable made with a journey into Lupulin powderes. Lion Bridge continues to impress, in every beer style, in food, in what it means to be a local business. More of this please!

The deets:

7%

First foray into lupulin powders has produced this mirthful beverage. By using a hop with the green plant material removed we are only dry hopping a concentrated version of the aromatic oils found in eukanot and mosaic. Resinous and tropical; potent yet graceful.

There you have it! The list of Best of Iowa beers 2017. Chances are your list looks a bit different but that’s what makes drinking and trying local beer great! It was stressful, I’m sweating and need a beer. I also have to give a shout out to Nick Jubeck for creating the Iowa Beer Baron logo at the top of the post! Thanks man, check out and like his Facebook page by clicking here: Cheers to the breweries who make the beers, the restaurants and bars that serve them and cheers to 2018!

Old Chicago Coralville Hosting Tallgrass Tap Takeover Wed. March 23rd

tallgrassOld Chicago in Coralville will be hosting a Tallgrass Brewing tap takeover this Wednesday night. Tallgrass will be bringing some of their big guns from the Explorer Series as well as a pin called “Buffalo Sex”. One of my personal favorites, Big RICC, will be on tap as well. The complete lineup and release poster is below, make sure to check it out if you are in the area!

We will be tapping  3 beers from the explorer series. Bourbon barrel buffalo sweat, bourbon barrel vanilla bean buffalo sweat, and big RICC. We will also be tapping a pin at 5 pm that is called Buffalo Sex. It is Buffalo Sweat with chocolate and cherry!

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Bricks Bar and Grill Cedar Rapids Planning “Bricks University” Beer Education Program

bricksA fantastic opportunity to talk, learn, and taste all things beer is coming up from the folks at Bricks Bar and Grill in Cedar Rapids. Bricks University classes will be starting in January and will feature New Belgium Brewing Company. More classes will follow each month and the cost will be $25 per class. Here’s more info from Sam Tracy of Bricks:

We wanted to put together a program that allows people to be correctly educated about craft beer, so we’re bringing the best sources possible: the people brewing and selling the beer for featured breweries.  The goal is to have this be a laid back and fun thing that people of all levels of knowledge will be able to enjoy but also learn from.
The actual ‘classes’ include the following for $25:
– 30 minutes (or so) “lecture” that will cover some form of the brewing process or beer history (this is yet to be decided per class so far but will depend on each presenters strong suit).  Prior to this, everyone will be able to choose a pint out of the featured brewery’s core beers to sip on while they listen.
– 30 minutes (or so) “lab” that will include a pre-determined flight of four beers (there may be some fun surprises) that the rep or brewer will go through and talk about styles and expectations, how to enjoy, etc.
– The rest of the time is up basically for people to hang out, ask questions, enjoy the food provided, and just have a good time socializing in general.
The first class will be on January 23rd from 2-4 pm and will feature New Belgium.  The rest are not fully set in stone but we’re looking for the following months to be:
  • Peace Tree (February)
  • Boulevard (March)
  • Founders (April)
  • Big Grove (May – “Graduation Party”)
This is something we would like to continue doing on a fairly set schedule so in the future we will bring in different breweries.

Beer Rumor: Stone Xocoveza returning this winter? In 12 oz form?

stoneReading through some beer blogs and beer posts on BA I stumbled across a post someone gathered by reading the TTB posts. This would be a welcome addition to any other winter offerings coming. I personally really enjoyed this beer and would love to see it in 12 oz form in 4 packs or even back in bombers. Here’s the post from tenemu.com:

One of Stone Brewing Co.’s most popular releases of the last few years is returning in its original form as a seasonal release.

According to filings with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the beer is Xocoveza Mocha Stout, an 8.1 percent ABV milk stout brewed with English challenger and English East kent holdings hops as well as cocoa, coffee, chile peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. When it was released early last year in 22-ounce bottles, the original Xocoveza Mocha Stout was based on the recipe of Chris Banker, who won the 2014 Stone Homebrew Competition.

“There’s nothing like making a beer so beloved that people feel compelled to campaign for its return,” reads the beer label. “So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we are very pleased to give our fans the number one item on their wish lists.That, as illustrated by the avalanche of social media requests, is Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout, an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cocoa, coffee, chile peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.”

Earlier this year, the Escondido, Calif.-based brewery released two different variations of the milk stout:  Xocoveza Extra Añejo (12.2 percent ABV), which was aged in extra añejo tequila barrels that had previously held Bordeaux wine, and Xocoveza Charred (11 percent ABV), which was aged in oak bourbon barrels from Kentucky for seven months.

According to the beer label, Stone Xocoveza will be packaged in 12-ounce bottles and will be available “for the Holidays & the New Year.” An email to the brewery for additional details was not immediately returned.

Brunch with Surly @Blackstone Restaurant slated for March 8th!

blackstoneI just receieved the following information from Sam Hall, General Manager extradonnaire, of Blackstone restaurant in Iowa City. With all the talk of Surly hitting Des Moines next week it’s great to see that Blackstone will be hosting a brunch featuring Surly beers. AND…………they will be tapping Abrasive at noon! A can’t miss brunch! Here’s more:

Brunch with Surly
March 8th 10:00AM-2:00PM

Blackstone is pairing up with Surly for another fantastic event! Start your Sunday off with our full brunch surlybuffet and a special beer inspired brunch menu. Chicken & Waffles along with two other entrees will be available to order. Some of the Surly crew will be on hand with the following draft lines:

10:00 AM
Cynic
Furious 
Smoke
Coffee Bender
Cacao Bender

At noon we will tap Abrasive! Let’s #getsurly 

Reservations accepted for dining room, bar side is first come first served

 
Samuel J. Hall Jr.

General Manager I Blackstone Restaurant 
W-319.338.1770
C- 319.400.8502

Reds Alehouse Presents: Bourbon County Night featuring Vanilla Rye!

The following newsletter was just received from Reds Alehouse. This sounds like a fantastic event and your chance to try the infamous Bourbon County Vanilla Rye. Here it is:

redsMonday February 23rd, Reds along with 7G Distributing will be hosting a Goose Island Bourbon County evening!  What exactly does this mean?  We will be pouring Bourbon County and its variants that evening consisting of: 2012 Coffee, 2014 Coffee, 2014 Vanilla Rye, and 2014 BCBS.  In addition to that, we will also have a very limited amount of King Henry available!
How can I be involved in this awesome event?  Great question!  Tickets for this event go on sale TOMORROW MORNING at 10am!  Call us at 319-626-2100 at 10am sharp to reserve your ticket for Monday evening.  Have a credit card handy please!
What is the cost?  You’re nailing these questions today!  For $40, you will get a 5 ounce pour of each of the Bourbon County variants.  For $60, you will receive all of the variants as well as a 5 ounce pour of King Henry.  Each ticket will also receive a complimentary appetizer as well as a Goose Island glass to take home.
In summary…
-Call 319-626-2100 tomorrow at 10am
-Have credit card handy
-Do I want King Henry or just the Bourbon County variants?
-Show up Monday 2.23.15 anytime after 5pm
-Pick up your reserved ticket from the host stand
-Enjoy Bourbon County with your free appetizer and free glass

Surly Invasion Begins March 3 @ Woolys in Des Moines

surlyThe following comes from Surly’s Facebook page and it looks like they are ready to enter the market full-time with a bang! Here’s their post:

As we mentioned yesterday, the Surly invasion of Iowa begins Tuesday, March 3 in Des Moines with a very special concert by our friends Doomtree at Wooly’s. And, we are loading up a fancy bus in Minneapolis and are making the trip down for the show and we want you on it. Wanna get on so we can get up? If you think you should be on the bus, hanging out with Doomtree and the Surly crew, convince us. Tell us your sob/stalker/fan story and why you should be on the bus in the comments below. By 2/12, we’ll pick and announce some winners. We will depart from Minneapolis around 1pm on Tuesday, March 3 and we’d hit up a couple of spots for some beers en-route to the show. Then when Doomtree leaves the stage that night, we get back on the bus to head to Minneapolis. We will arrive back at the brewery at 3am or so. It’s rock and roll errr… hip hop! And, it’s not a road trip for the delicate. Tell us your story in the comment section below.