Beer Baron’s Top 10 of 2021!

Another year in the books, and like every year since I’ve been doing this blog and releasing my Top 10 I was once again blown away by the amazing beers that our Iowa brewers and their staff have made for us this year! Not only that, the resiliency shown by breweries/restaurants/bars during the past few years cannot be overlooked and huge thank you to all service industry workers! Cheers to you! Onto the TOP 10!
LIST CRITERIA
*Beer must have been brewed in Iowa
*Beer must have been released in 2021
*Annual releases not counted unless a new adjunct had been added to that particular beer

Like every list, I know opinions will differ and I’m looking forward to reading what your top 10 list was for this year! Once again, so many beers, so little time, and I know I wasn’t able to even scratch the surface as to the beers I wanted to try!

**Big Grove Richard the Whale Chocolate Coconut Cake– – this year’s “Golden Ticket” beer during the Richard the Whale release, and like every year, it does not disappoint. Chocolate and coconut shine as this is wonderfully balanced, great for any time of the day, another win for Big Grove with this beer!

**Lion Bridge Silvia – Farmhouse ales are a style that goes overlooked and thankfully is making their way back to some breweries, and Lion Bridge not only made a great one, but possibly my favorite beer of the year. It was a perfect accompaniment to the Thanksgiving dinner table..not just one bottle either…If you’re a saison/farmhouse ale fan this is one to definitely try!

**Pulpit Rock Island Life – first enjoyed on a guy’s trip to Decorah and was blown away by the wonderful tropical flavor this beer brought. Maybe the setting had a lot to do with it, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a great beer to drink!

**Gezellig Long Story Short – 4.9%– smoothie sours/seltzers were all the rage in the beer world this past year and Iowa breweries sure made a whole lot of good ones. One of my favorites comes from the lovely folks in Newton, Iowa at Gezellig. Strawberry starbursts and pomegranate helped make this a flavor packed brew!

**Lua Brewing Dawn – 13.5% – part of last year’s “Resolution” I set for myself was trying to make it to Central and Western Iowa more often to taste what the breweries are pushing out there, especially the ones that don’t get much distro to Eastern Iowa..I kind of failed in that endeavor, however, I did get to Des Moines a few times and was able to procure some Lua brews! One that really stood out was this imperial stout. Coffee and a hint of vanilla make this decadent brew stand out, and hides that ABV very well! Looking forward to more from Lua in 2022!

**Clock House Brewing Barrel Aged Peanut Panic Porter – 12% – the base beer was one of my favorites in 2020 and then adding it to barrels and resting it on peanuts, cocoa nibs, and vanilla really added more depth to an already wonderful beer. The misconception from some was that this was a peanut “butter” beer, not the case, straight up peanuts and the balance of the flavors comes through remarkably!

**Adventurous Easy Peel (triple dry hopped Mosaic)- 8.3% – the 2nd Easy Peel I’ve had this year and I think the Mosaic barely beats out the El Dorado for me. Both very good and the combo of the mosaic hops and cryo mosaic hops really stands out. Excellent beer, any of the Easy Peel beers from Adventurous would be a safe bet!

**Lion Bridge Percussive Maintenance Macaroon – 11% – Chocolate and coconut paired with a great barrel is hard to go wrong and Lion Bridge balances this beer perfectly. There are some beers that you’ll always remember opening and pouring and this is definitely one of those for me. One to sip on yourself or share with someone you care about….a moment making beer for sure! One of the best of the year!

**Lua Pushpop: Because My Heart is in Iowa – Lua Pushpops can be hard to come by if you live in Eastern Iowa, luckily they sometimes drop a few beers off at Tin Roost in North Liberty to get us a taste here in Eastern Iowa. Mango and cherry beer, super thick and delicious. Lua dominated the slushie/sour landscape in the beer world! A trip to Des Moines in needed soon!

**Dimensional You Down with OCP – 13.1% – Pastry stouts can be hit and miss with me. Many are too sweet for my liking, and the adjuncts are too dominate over the base beer, but not with this one…Dimensional added 100 lbs each of oatmeal cream pies, oatmeal cookies, and toasted coconut to this big beer and it worked wonderfully. Not too sweet at all, in fact, if the 13.1% wouldn’t drop me I could easily see myself sipping on glass #2 letting the beer warm me up in the Iowa winter!

Reds Alehouse w/ Pulpit Rock cans available for purchase! + more from Reds!

Reds Alehouse has just gotten in a shipment of some tasty brews from the folks at Pulpit Rock. Limited quantities available so get there ASAP to get a couple cans for yourself! Here’s what is available:

**Easy Lover – session IPA
**Saftig – New England IPA
**Never Again – pastry stout w/ peanuts, maraschino cherries, sugar cookies and cocoa nibs
**Show and Tell – blackberry infused kettle sour
**Island Life – pastry sour infused strawberry, mango, and lemonade mix
**What Would You Like for Breakfast? – blackberry pastry kettle sour with maple extract and fresh baked muffins
**Prances with Wolves – pastry sour packed with peaches, graham crackers, and cinnamon
**Scone On – Pastry sour with blueberry and fresh blueberry scones

Thew + Pulpit Rock collab “Together 4ever” Peach Milkshake IPA releases this Friday! (2/12)

Thew Brewing and Pulpit Rock Brewing are once again coming together for a collab release of “Together 4ever”! This release will take place this Friday, February 12, @4:00 p.m. Here are the details on this beer:

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Together 4ever is back! We brew this milkshake IPA with peach, vanilla, and lactose every year with our pals at Pulpit Rock. Come get this sweet treat! Available on tap and in crowlers.

Along with the collab release, Thew will have the following beers available:

We will have cans of Pulpit Rock beers to enjoy in our taproom or to go:
Island Life – pastry sour with strawberry, mango, and lemonade (contains lactose)
Blemon – pastry sour with blueberries, white cake, and lemon zest (contains lactose)
Show and Tell – blackberry kettle sour (contains lactose)
Never Again – pastry stout with peanuts, maraschino cherries, sugar cookies, and cocoa nibs (contains lactose & nuts)
Koffee and Biscotti – coffee porter with almond biscotti
Chuggernaut – hazy pale aleWe will also have cans of UNIFY, a hazy IPA brewed for the Iowa Brewers Guild, to enjoy in our taproom or to go!

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