Beer Baron’s Top 10 Iowa Beers of 2020!

What a year it has been! With all that is going on our local breweries still put out a ton of amazing beers and this was the toughest “Top 10” I’ve had to come up with. As the year winds down, a heartfelt thank you to all the brewery/restaurant workers out there working their butts off to get us excellent beers and delicious food while trying to keep their businesses afloat. Keep supporting local people!

List criteria:
*Beer must have been released in 2020
*Iowa brewed only
*Annual releases not counted unless a new adjunct was added to the beer

I know that I’ve missed many, my goal in 2020 was to get to as many Iowa breweries as possible and I was able to get to many that I hadn’t been before and hopefully that trend continues in 2021. After you read my list I would love to hear what your Top 10 is this year! Follow me on twitter @iabeerbaron or join the Iowa Beer page on Facebook. Cheers to you all!

*Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee – 12.5% – the last few years of the Richard release, the golden ticket addition has added excitement but also even more creativity from the BG brewers and crew to up the ante every year to produce an amazing beer and this year was no different. The balance between the coffee and coconut blends perfectly with barrel and the vanilla rounds it out perfectly. A truly decadent and delicious beer. To quote Virginia Madsen from “Sideways”, “You know, the day you open a Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee….that’s the special occasion”.

Big Grove Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee

*Lion Bridge Off Grid – 6.6% – there may not be a better beer to showcase the trying year many people have faced in 2020. Off Grid was brewed after the derecho storm left many in the Cedar Rapids area without power, shelter, etc. Brewing with generator power, not only did Lion Bridge get beer to us, they gave us one of the best IPAs brewed in Iowa in 2020 and I hope we get a taste of it again in 2021….minus the derecho.

Lion Bridge Off Grid

*Barn Town Nelson Sauvin Neon – 6.5% – as Barn Town’s Neon is becoming more available in Eastern Iowa, it has certainly taken its place amongst my ever revolving beer fridge as a staple. However, Barn Town decided to showcase different hops in their popular IPA and after tasting Nelson Sauvin Neon, dare I say I want more of this version? I love Nelson hops and the addition of this adds a nice peppery finish to an already delicious citrus IPA.

*Lua Algorithm – 4% ABV – trips to Des Moines in the last year certainly have been more common to get some to go beers from many of the breweries in that area and one certain stop has been Lua. Lua’s lineup of beers range from wonderful pilsners, hoppy IPAs, BA stouts, and one their extremely popular Pushpop lineup of brews! There were many that I really enjoyed but Algorithm was the one that stood out to me most. The combo of orange, mango and peaches can be enjoyed any time of the day! Lua is currently doing curbside only for the foreseeable future so make sure you place an order with them and pick up some amazing beer and food!

*Clock House Peanut Panic Porter – 5.5% – Clock House has had an amazing year with their beer releases and with the addition of a canning line they can get us our favorites more efficiently and timely. Of all the beers I’ve had of theirs this year, (I think I’ve had them all), their Peanut Panic Porter stood out. I’m a huge porter fan, Founders Porter is still one of my all-time favorite beers, and when Clock House added peanuts to this beer I was sold. Now, this isn’t a overly sweet “peanut butter” beer, this is boiled raw peanuts and some added cocoa nibs making this one of the best porters I’ve had and definitely the best peanut porter I’ve ever had. Still on tap I believe, give it a shot!

*Big Grove HDTV – 9.2% – galaxy hops gone mad! Big Grove took their popular Color TV and added a bunch more galaxy hops to it to give us this baby! A wonderful welcome addition to Richard the Whale day, HDTV is not only delicious, but it’s deceptively drinkable coming in at 9.2%. You still may be able to find cans of this in the wild or certain bars (Club 76 has it on tap).

Big Grove HDTV

*Single Speed Barrel-Aged Double Donuts – 10% – aged in Cedar Ridge single malt whiskey barrels? Yes please! Single Speed took inspiration from their popular Zach’s Mexican Donuts, threw it in some amazing whiskey barrels and barrel-aged Double Donuts was born! Luckily I have a few cans left of this and I have every intention to sit by the fireplace and watch the snowstorm blow in tomorrow night and sip and enjoy this wonderful brew!

*Pulpit Rock Double Dave-O – 7.6% – I remember having this beer way back in January at Marquee Pizza in Coralville during their anniversary celebration. Marquee always did a great job getting Pulpit Rock on tap (Thanks Sam!) when many places couldn’t and I remember thinking that it’s going to be nice being able to visit here, have some great food and sip on some Pulpit beers…..things have changed a bit because of the pandemic but Pulpit sure has adapted to the changing times and have done an amazing job getting their cans available in certain locations around Eastern Iowa (Need Pizza + Reds Alehouse). Double Dave-O stood out because of the hop profile. Citra and mosaic, two of my favorites made this a quenching IPA leaving me wanting another one!

Pulpit Rock Double Dave-O

*Dimensional Imperial Cinna-Man Bun – 11.7% – there are some beers that you can be a little hesitant to order because you’ve already played it out in your head how it was going to taste. With this particular beer, I thought for sure it would be way too sweet for me with over the top cinnamon, admittedly I was completely wrong. Dimensional brought balance to a beer that could have gone the complete opposite direction, especially for a pastry stout. Another great fall/winter beer to sip on, wish I had some more of it!

Dimensional Imperial Cinna-Man Bun

*Clock House Sweet Innocence – 5.2% – 42 lbs of black cherries added to this kettle sour which made for a truly refreshing beer to sip on on hot ass August night in Iowa. This is a beer that I hope to see again during the warmer months and if you haven’t tried it, if Clock House does release it again, it’s worth the trip to Cedar Rapids!

Clock House Sweet Innocence

There is the list! It’s always fun to compile but never easy to narrow down! With such a trying year in the beer/restaurant industry it is amazing on how these breweries have adapted to keep their businesses alive and to also keep us stocked with beer. A huge cheers to all of them and I hope you continue to support your local brewery and businesses. I know I probably missed your favorite of the year so please let me know what your list looks like! Cheers!

Pulpit Rock cans available at Need Pizza!!

Need Pizza is carrying 8 different Pulpit Rock brewery cans available for purchase! Beers available:

Pillow Talk-raspberry kettle sour
Blustery-pastry kettle sour w/blueberries, marshmallows, and vanilla sandwich cookies
Cabana Wear-pastry sour w/blueberry and lemonade mix
Donut Go Breakin’ My Heart-pastry kettle sour w/raspberries, cake donuts and powdered sugar
Pour Over Porter (Ethiopian)-robust coffee porter with Ethiopian Chelchele Kochere beans
Strata-G-Double IPA
Alma Mater-IPA
Some IPA-IPA

Great Iowa Beer Festival Category Vote: Stouts

This category of stouts will not include imperial/barrel aged/pastry/adjunct except coffee! Those will be broken down into another category down the road! Thanks to everyone who has participated in the voting and to the brewer’s making the beer! Cheers!

Stout is a dark, top-fermented beer with a number of variations, including dry stout, oatmeal stout, milk stout. The first known use of the word stout for beer was in a document dated 1677 found in the Egerton Manuscripts, the sense being that a “stout beer” was a strong beer, not a dark beer.

Great Iowa Beer Festival Category Vote: Hazy/New England Sytle IPA

From BA: NEIPA is essentially an unfiltered IPA or Double IPA that’s been aggressively hopped. Appearance ranges from slightly hazy or cloudy to opaque or muddy. Dry-hopping, the use of high-protein grains (flours, flaked oats, wheat), certain yeast strains, water chemistry, CO2 levels, and other techniques may also contribute to the beer’s haze and mouthfeel. But the overall goal is typically a hazy, juicy IPA packed with fruity and floral flavors

Pulpit Rock releasing 4 beers this Friday! (6/5)

Brewers continue to busy across the state of Iowa, releasing cans of our favorite beers and this Friday, Pulpit Rock Brewing will be releasing 4 more brews! Check out the deets courtesy of Pulpit’s Facebook page:

First up, everyone’s favorite beer is back! Saftig – our classic IPA with mosaic, simcoe, and citra will be available Friday. $4.00/16oz. can, 2 case limit (48 cans)
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Missing those church lunches during the summer afternoons trying to decide which cold salad you are going to eat? Look no further. We’ve got the best one in town for you. Church Salad is packed full of fresh pineapple, coconut, marshmallows, and walnuts. This pastry kettle sour is available Friday. $6.50/16oz. can, 8 can limit.
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Missed your chance to drink Poolside, poolside last season? Now is your chance! This pastry kettle sour has hundreds of pounds of fresh raspberries infused into it and topped off with lemonade mix. Available Friday, $6.50/16oz. can, 8 can limit.
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And for our newest sour – meet Jamboree! It is filled with fresh strawberries, graham crackers, and cheesecake mix! We are excited for you to try this one. Available Friday, $6.50/16oz can, 8 can limit.
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*We will be maintaining our drive-thru service this weekend. Please follow signs and enter the line on Painter St. using our alley. keep in mind, if the line is too long and causing issues with local traffic, we may need to open early. As a reminder, we are still donating 10% of our sales to affected local businesses and their employees. Your support each week is highly appreciated!

Weekend Releases: Big Grove + Pulpit Rock – Sours, IPAs, Stouts, + more

The Beer Gods continue to smile upon us even in this trying time as our wonderful brewers, brewery employees continue to get us great beer every damn week! Big Grove has been releasing 4 beers, many of them new, every week for the past how many weeks for their drive thru weekend operation and Pulpit has been pushing at least two releases every Friday! So, what do these breweries have for us this weekend?

PULPIT ROCK

JACUZZI MOVES

This beer has the moves, dancing with 600lbs of fresh strawberries and lemonade mix to give it that refreshing summer taste. Jacuzzi Moves – a strawberry and lemonade mix kettle pastry sour, $6.50/16oz. can, no limits

BLUSTERY

Blueberries, marshmallows, golden sandwich cookies oh my! Who could ask for a better combination? This blueberry sour will blow you away. Blustery is available this Friday. $6.50/16oz.can, no limits

Big Grove

BIG GROVE

TAILWIND

 The official beer of RAGBRAI is back! This light and crisp golden ale rolls into town with a hot, new look and four new pals.⁣

PEACH MOSH PIT

Gose featuring peaches, apricots, and plums. Sweet, tart, and the perfect patio beer.⁣

ALL NEW EVERYTHING

Hazy double IPA delivers bright, juicy, and fruity greatness by way of the all-new experimental cryo hop blend and pilsner malt. Get ready… this one shines!⁣

BOSTON CREAM PIE

Is a pie that’s actually a cake that’s actually a beer! Chocolate, vanilla, and lactose come together for decadent dessert in a can.⁣

TROPICAL FREAK OUT

Is our latest Gusher. Highlighted by a Snowbird sour ale base, we added heaps of pineapple and tangerine to take you straight to the tropical paradise of your dreams.

If you have a release coming up and would like me to post just shoot me an email! Cheers everyone!

Breweries and Beers Announced for 2020 BrrrFest!

We have an early list of breweries and beers that will be available at the 2020 Coralville BrrrFest thanks to the folks at flitebrite. You can access and create your untappd wishlist for the event by clicking here

Here’s the list, I’ll continue to post updates as they come in. Cheers!

-515 Brewing Company
*Dunkel on the Haterz
*Mexican Spring
*OJ Gets Lei’d
*Poobah of Passe
*Puppy Jake
-5ive Cities Brewing Company
-7 Hills Brewing Co.
*Baca Inocula
*Betty’s Private Reserve
*Bi-Polar Vortex
*Bold Blavatsky
*Cerebral Haze
*Muddy Tugger w/Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup
-Alluvial Brewing Company
-Backpocket Brewing
-Barn Town Brewing
-Bent River Brewing Company
*Barrel-Aged Marshmallow Stout
*Chocolate Covered Banana
*Lactobaxpress
*Liquified
-Big Grove Brewery
*Buster
*Cask Sera w/white peppercorn + pineapple
*Easy Eddy Strawberry Pineapple Milkshake
*Experimental Sour w/passion fruit, raspberry + vanilla
*Justice for Barb
*Richard the Whale Vanilla Coconut
*Snowbird
*Static
*White Stout
*Xibalba Wade Wisely
-Boone Valley Brewing
-Brightside Aleworks
-Carroll Brewing Company
*Black Lager
*Carroll Red
*India Pale Ale
*Mild
*Tokyo Pils
-Cedar Ridge
-Clock House Brewing
-Confluence Brewing
-Contrary Brewing
*Finger Licken’ Good
*German’s Chocolate Cake
*Punch You in the Eye
*Zoom Doggy (w/maple & cinnamon)
-Court Avenue Brewing Company
-Crawford Brew Works
-Dimensional Brewing
*Dad Bod
*Denim Venom
*Easy Steve
*Gussied Up
*Jumbled Up: Hazel
*Sweet Acoustics
-East Grove Meadery
-Exile Brewing Company
-Fat Hill Brewing Company
-Fenders Brewing
*Morning Ride
-Firetrucker Brewery
*Black Magic Coffee Stout
*Brigade Ale
*Burnout Brown
*Destination IPA East Coast Style
*Tropical Burn Mago DIPA
-Fishback and Stephenson Cidery
*Maple Starship
*Salty Poser
-Fox Brewing
Franklin Street Brewing
-Front Street Brewery
Gezellig Brewing Company
*From Zero to Iffy
*Hug Deal Gone Sideweiss
*Tank in the Frank!
-Green Tree Brewing
-Iowa Brewing Company
*Barrel-Aged In-Tents w/ Trung Nguyen Legendee Coffee
*Barrel-Aged OREOja
*Bohemian Rapids
*Cousin Eddie’s Breakfast Ale
*David Hefehoff
*Double Barrel Hang Fire
*Eagle Lime
*Jinkies! – Lotus, Exp. 07720, Exp. 09326
*Oja’s Peanut Butter Cup Porter
-Jackson Street Brewing
*4 Non Blondes
*Hell’s Half Acre Stout – French Toast
*Imperial Chocolate Peanut Butter Treat
*Nannerbock
*Sioux City Sours & Barrel Aged Stouts
-Jefferson County Ciderworks
-Kalona Brewing Company
-Keg Creek Brewing Company
*Brick Red Ale
*Illuminator VII
*Kashmir Kush DIPA
*Mas Mexican Style Lager
*Moongold Apricot
*Rehashed IPA
-Lake Time Brewing
*Funfetti
*Haze of Our Lives
*Lost Dutchman
*Oreo Speed Wagon
*Peanut Butter Porter
*Welcome to the Jungle Juice
-Lark Brewing Company
-Limestone Brewers
-Lion Bridge Brewing Company
-Millstream Brewing Company
-Mississippi River Distilling
Mistress Brewing Company
-NoCoast Beer Co.
-Parkside Brewing Company
*Belly Dancer Chai Stout
*Kyle
*No Scurvy
*Raspberry Mother
-Peace Tree Brewing Company
-Pivo Brewing
*Balltown Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Brownie Milk Stout
*Dorchester British Best
-Pulpit Rock Brewing Company
-Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery
-Reclaimed Rails Brewing 
-ReUnion Brewery
*Cosmic Creamsicle Juice Factory
*Imperial Banshee (2019)
*Ocean Sprayed Cranberry Gose
*Reunion Lager
*Rock ‘N Roll Bus Driver
*Tank Puncher IPA
-Second State Brewing
*Schwarzbier
*Vienna Lager
-SingleSpeed Brewing 
*A-Two-Hoo
*Gable
*Hard Won Not Done
*Slightly Heightened Conversation V2.0
*Tip the Cow
*Tip the Cowconut
*Two Cows (Walk into a Barrel)
*Victory Dance
-Thew Brewing
*Candy Double Tappa
*Hello Hazy
*Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree
-Third Base Brewing
*At the Heart of Winter
*Smoak ‘Em If You Got ‘Em
-Toppling Goliath Brewing
*Cherry Fandango
*Dorthy’s New World Lager
*Dragon Fandango
*King Sue
*Mornin’ Delight
*Pompeii
*Pseudo Sue
*Supa’ Sumo
*Term Oil
-Torrent Brewing Company
-Twisted Vine Brewery
*5 Horizons Black Lager
*Cali-Steamer
*Snowlicious
*Twisted Blonde
*Westown IPA
*Whadda Juicebag
-West O Beer
-Wild Culture Kombucha
-Wilson’s Hard Cider
*Old Blue
*Pina de Iowa
*Sutliff Hard Cider
-Worth Brewing

 

Beer Baron’s Top 10 Iowa Beers of 2019!

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Another Top 10 list coming at you as I present to you, dear reader, my top 10 “Iowa Beers” of 2019! Once again, this list is of beers released in 2019, Iowa brewed, and with annual releases (Richard the Whale, GAZPROM!) they aren’t counted unless the brewery releases a beer with that base and a new adjunct to it. I’ve missed out on many beers this year, one being the B.A. Cake Walk from Pulpit which many of you were lucky enough to try. Another great year in Iowa Beer as our breweries keep turning out amazing things!

I’d also love to hear your Top 10 beers of the year, so shoot back on me here or on the Iowa Beer page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter! So, after tedious nights of drinking amazing beer, here’s my top 10 (in no particular order)!

**Big Grove Brewery Richard the Whale Hazelnut + Chocolate -11.5%- this is a beer that was overshadowed by the golden ticket release of Richard Coconut Vanilla, and maybe rightfully so as that beer is amazing, but if you have a bottle of this, drink it! You’d be hard pressed to find a beer with that much hazelnut flavor that is balanced perfect with chocolate. Big Grove continues to shine with their Richard series!

**Confluence Brewing Smoothest Road Hazy Triple IPA- 10% – Confluence teamed up with Weldwerks Brewing to come up with this Triple and they really nailed it. Smoothest in the title and that’s exactly what can be said about a triple that drinks like a regular hazy. Delicious and easy drinking, watch out for that 10% on this baby! Keep this coming Confluence!

**Clock House Brewing Pineapple Witch Slap– 6% – what a great year for Clock House as Todd and crew have been busy cranking out some delicious beers and even a few can/crowler releases. One of the most notable for me was an off shoot of their popular Witch Slap IPA, Pineapple Witch Slap. All the greatness from Witch Slap with some fresh tasting pineapple added to it. What I like the best in adjunct beers is when it doesn’t taste artificial, and this beer was the perfect example. Fresh pineapple, the perfect beer for a warm day or any day for that matter!

**Lion Bridge Brewing Home Baked – 11% – this was the beer that started off my 2019 and to top this beer would be quite an accomplishment! I must be a sucker for hazelnut in my stouts, and add some cinnamon and fudge and you have one of the best beers ever brewed in Iowa!

**Toppling Goliath Double Dry Hopped King Sue-7.8% – I’m not sure when this was actually released so if it was early then 2019, my bad. But, I recently had my first bottle of it and it has to be up there with the best IPAs brewed in the state. Delicious beer!

**Dimensional Brewing Imperial Peanut Butter Cup – 10% – was lucky enough to get this on tap on trip to Dubuque. If you did peanut butter porters/stouts then this is one you need to try. Not overly sweet either, that can be a deal breaker for me. Dimensional continues to do great things after celebrating their 1 year anniversary!

**Big Grove Richard the Whale Vanilla Coconut – 11.5% – one of the best beers of the year no doubt! The “golden ticket” beer has exceeded the hype. The coconut shines, and once again not too sweet. I don’t know how Big Grove can outdo themselves again next year, but I’m sure they will. A beer of the year nominee!

**Pulpit Rock Gravy Boat – 7.1% – I know it’s not the B.A. Cake Walk that would make everyone’s list if you tried it, but Pulpit is continually making great beers of almost every style. Their sours/stouts/pils/pastry stouts/IPAs are all delicious. Gravy Boat is an IPA that I could drink many of, and in fact, many of these pairs well with some Need Pizza!

**Clock House Snozberry Sour – 5% – one of the best kettle sours I’ve ever had as Clock House loaded this baby up with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Sessionable and not overly tart. This would be ideal on a hot summer day!

**Lion Bridge Double Maple GAZPROM! – 12% – barrel aged January was amazing in 2019 and expectations have been set high for 2020! One of the highlights along with Home Baked was Double Maple GAZPROM! They upped the maple dosage and turned this into an even more decadent delight!

Well, there’s this year’s list…..Once again, sooooo many great beers being produced in our lovely state that it is hard to get your hands on all of them! It’s a great problem to have! Cheers to the breweries and the folks in the brewing industry and thanks to all the readers of this blog and my @iabeerbaron twitter handle, as well as the Iowa Beer Facebook members. I would love to hear your top 10 so give me a shout! Cheers!

 

Iowa Eats Destination: Luna Valley Farm; Decorah, IA

luna valley.jpg

Sitting on a beautiful farmstead somewhere on the outskirts of Decorah, Iowa is one of the best hidden food destinations Iowa has to offer. Luna Valley Farm and their brick oven pizza coupled with the setting that they offer make this an Iowa eats destination for sure.

Most of my blog visitors have more than likely been to Decorah as it has two of Iowa’s most popular breweries in Toppling Goliath and Pulpit Rock. Both places are well worth the drive there as well and I’m also a big fan of Mabe’s pizza…BUT…..if you are there on a Friday night, no dinner plans, get google maps up and get to Luna Valley. Not only can you eat there, drink some great local brews, but you can also go glamping in one of their cabin/tents! Also, they are only open from 4-8 and ONLY on Fridays! Get there early, grab a seat in the barn, and enjoy.

Seeing how many people made it there on this particular Friday night makes me want to rethink calling it a “hidden” food destination. It’s a popular spot, very popular. Once the dough is out, that’s all she wrote. Luckily, we got there in time and got our orders in. The first thing I noticed when ordering was the excellent beer selection! Pulpit Rock, TG, PIVO and a few others on tap. I ordered a Saftig, and that beer and that setting is about as good as it gets!

 

The pizza was wonderful. Chewy crust, fresh toppings, and a great sauce. We went with the Iowaiian – bacon, pineapple, and jalapeno and the margherita and friends got the Pepperoncini pizza. All 3 were fantastic! Even with how busy they were the staff was extremely friendly, helpful and added to what was a memorable evening! Check it out the next time you hit Decorah on Friday night, you won’t be disappointed in this Iowa Eats Destination!