Restaurant Review: Ramsey’s Metro Market; Marion, IA

IMG_0510.JPGI had noticed quite a few check-ins on untappd coming from Ramsey’s in Marion and talking with Leisha at Benz she highly recommend I give the place a try. Located on 7th avenue amongst the quaint and unique looking strip of stores in Marion, Ramseys is definitely a hidden treasure for wine, food, and more importantly for me…..beer.

Upon entering the restaurant you can’t help but notice the
walls of the place lined with hundreds of bottles of wine. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know shit about wine. I wish I did, but I don’t. But the amount of wine that was neatly shelved to the ceiling in this place was a pretty awesome view. According to their website they house 140 different wines, 70 bottled beers,
and 10 tap beers.

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The tap lines are what I wanted to see. I customarily bellied up to the bar, was greeted with a beer and food menu and we were off.

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A recent expansion has given Ramseys a perfect spot on the other side of the bar to house their 10 lines and I was really thirsting for a taste of North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse and the Funkwerks Dry-Hopped Provincial, both of which I had heard were on tap. Started with the Tart Cherry and was very happy with the choice. Good fruit, not overly sweet, add in that bit of tartness and it’s an excellent drinking companion for the summer months. Another perk of the trip was being able to sit and talk with Josh about the restaurant, other local places, and the beer they have or want to have. Excellent guy to talk the food scene and beer with!

IMG_0511.JPGOnto the food. Grilled cheese, salads, paninis, subs, and always a daily special which the night I was there was a smoked pork loin dish. It didn’t take me long to figure out I was going with the Italian panini. Throw some pepperoni and pastrami on any sandwich with some pepperoncinis and I’m sold. Food arrived fairly quick and I was ready for beer #2 as well. Funkwerks Dry Hopped Provincial it is. Absolutely wonderful beer! Tropic fruits with that dry hopped addition make this a beer to seek if you haven’t tried it yet! This beer with the tartness from the pepperoncinis on my sandwich made this a pleasantly surprising pairing.

I would like to think that when I go back I would try the special or something else on the menu, but the sandwich is made for me. Loved it! If you find yourself in Marion or nearby, give Ramseys Metro Market a shot, you won’t be disappointed. Check out their Facebook page for their daily specials: Ramseys

Restaurant Review: Hudson’s Southside Tap; Iowa City, IA

hudson'sA visit to a familiar area of Iowa City was in store for my wife and I as we were on our way to visit Hudson’s Southside Tap in Iowa City. We used to live in the Pentacrest Apartment complex downtown (very close to the bars….too close to the bars) and frequently visited the Pancheros on that side of town. Oh how I wish Hudson’s would have been there during that time!

IMG_2280.jpgWalking into the restaurant you are greeted with an inviting pub feel. Dark wood tables and a bar area that highlights the booze and taps. Very cozy, a place that I could spend hours in and feel right at home. I of course noticed the 40 tap handles on the back wall and was excited to dig into a few beers.

On the menu, I was expecting basic IMG_2282.jpgpub fare, but Hudson’s gives you more than that. An upscale pub fare if you will. When checking out new places I like to order multiple items, or I’m a fat ass who overeats, could be either of those…but anyway, I started with some basic chicken wings.

photo 2 (7)I’m a big fan of great chicken wings…not breaded (except for the Wig and Pen, love those), fried until crisp, with the perfect amount of sauce, and I must say, Hudson’s has some of the best wings I’ve had in some time. Their homemade blue cheese dressing and ranch where icing on the cake. Would go back to try their other sauces, but I would have no problem ordering the basic Frank’s sauce wings again.

photo 3 (2).JPGThere are also some slider options on the menu and I went with the pulled pork slider. Perfect amount of sauce, excellent pork with a touch of smokiness, very good slider. My wife had a short rib philly cheese steak with jalapeno cream photo 4 (5).JPGcheese. It was excellent, albeit a bit messy, but something we would order again. My main dish was the shrimp po’ boy. I’m a po’ boy junky, would eat them everyday and this one added it’s own touches to a traditional sandwich. A creole spiced may addition added to this sandwich. The shrimp were huge and cooked perfect and the bread was crunchy on the outside but nice and chewy in the middle.

photo 5 (2).JPGAll of these items, (I finished everything) were washed down with a Big Grove Brewery Que Sera and then a Boulevard Tank 7. For being relatively new they did a nice job getting Iowa beers on tap and I can see more Iowa tap handles as Hudson’s continues to get their feet wet.

There hadn’t been much of a reason for me to visit Iowa City’s south side anymore, but Hudson’s has now given me that reason. Looking forward to going again….oh yeah, we took our loud 1 year old daughter and wait staff couldn’t have been more friendly and playful with her. Highly recommend a visit to this local tap!

 

Restaurant Review: Need Pizzeria; Cedar Rapids, IA

needSo many great restaurants in the Eastern Iowa area that it is difficult to choose at times. During a latest trip down to Benz Beverage Depot for some fine ales my wife and I decided to give a newer pizza place in the downtown area a try. So off to Need Pizzeria we went! Here’s more about Need:

Need Pizzeria was founded by David Stephan and Robert Wagner.  David is a native Cedar Rapidian, Washington HS Grad.   Robert is from Cascade, Iowa and has lived in Cedar Rapids for many years. Their industry relationship began following high school; working together at CR Country Club.  Each owner has cut their teeth in multiple restaurant/bar locations with a combined 20+ years of experience in 3 states.

IMG_2216.JPG.jpegThere was a lunch special of a bratwurst pizza with sriracha glazed bacon and mashed potatoes that struck my interest right away. Upon walking in I noticed the uniquely designed coolers for the Iowa beer taps. Old refrigerators that were housing beers from Lion Bridge, Big Grove, Backpocket, Exile, etc. Very cool idea.

I knew I would be getting the Brat specialityIMG_2215.JPG.jpeg pizza so my wife and I wanted to test just a basic pie so we went with a pepperoni pizza. While waiting we of course ordered a couple of brews. I went with the Lion Bridge Sorachi Liberace and my wife a coffee stout.

The look and smell of the pizzas alone told us we made the right decision for lunch. Chewy crust, excellent sauce, and a bit of spiciness from the pepperoni made this a terrific pie. Loved it! I’m a big fan of just a plain pepperoni pizza and this one hitIMG_2211.JPG.jpeg the spot! Onto the brat pizza! Sweetness from the caramelized onions, a bit of heat from the sriracha glazed bacon and the perfect amount of fattiness and spice from the brat made this a pizza worthy of ordering again and hopefully them making again!

Overall, a great lunch, plenty of leftovers as the portions were very big. A trip we will be taking again very soon! Check out Need if you are in the downtown Cedar Rapids area!

Oskar Blues Brewing Coming to Iowa!

oskar bluesMultiple sources have confirmed to me that Oskar Blues is indeed ready to hit the Iowa market. From what I am hearing it sounds like it will be in January of 2015. Rumors and speculation have been going on for the last few years about Oskar Blues hitting our state; especially since Stone, Deschutes, Green Flash, Founders and others have done so well here. Another great brewery adding to our shelves, making the decisions even more difficult than they already are! A great problem to have. If you want to know more about what beers Oskar Blues has to offer visit their website at this link:

http://brew.oskarblues.com/

Mellow Mushroom Pizza and Beer Coming to Coral Ridge Mall

mellowI noticed a big sign where the former Bennigan’s used to be at Coral Ridge Mall advertising that the Mellow Mushroom will be opening in that location in the future. Mellow Mushroom offers “southern style” pizza and also a beer club which sounds very similar to Old Chicago’s beer club. They advertise 100 beers 64 on tap? I believe. That number might be a bit off. Here’s a link to their menu:

http://mellowmushroom.com/corpmenu

Kona Brewing Coming to Iowa

konaKona Brewing will be one of few craft breweries to be available in all 50 states as they fill in their final 9 states with their products. They should be available in Iowa starting in early 2015. For a full list of their lineup check out their website at:

www.konabrewingco.com

From an earlier press release and courtesy of the Sioux City Journal:

“In early 2015 we are approaching our 21st anniversary of brewing high-quality craft beer, and this national push is a perfect tribute to that milestone,” said Kona Brewing Company brand manager Aaron Marion.

”It’s been two years since Kona first touched down in the heart of the country, and the reception of our Hawaiian brews has provided a nice groundswell. We look forward to bringing some warmth and a taste of Hawaii to the growing market of craft beer drinkers in the central U.S., especially during these cold winter months,” Marion said.

Their award winning Longboard Island Lager and Big Wave Golden Ale will both be represented, available on draught and in six-pack bottles.

Coming to Shelves: Deschutes Pine Drop? Bells Planet Series Continues..

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Something that hasn’t been 100% confirmed but looks to be inevitable is a new Deschutes beer being added to their Bond Street Series lineup. Go along with Hop in the Dark, Chasin’ Freshies, and Foray, Pine Drop IPA will soon be bottled. What was once a draught only offering, as the name suggests, will be a Piney IPA that will use chinook, millennial, centennial, and northern brewer. More from the brewery courtesy of beerstreetjournal.com.

This lively IPA delivers a crisp and light malt body with ample citrus and pine notes from Chinook and experimental hops. Inspired by the aromas and silence we experience when exploring the scenic pine forests just up the road from our brewhouse.

Deschutes Pinedrops IPA will be available in 12oz bottles as a part of the Bond Street Series. Other offerings in the series include Chasin Freshies, Foray, and Hop in the Dark.

Style: IPA
Hops: Millennial, Northern Brewer, Chinook, Centennial, Experimental
Malt: Pilsner, Pale, Munich, Crystal, Cara Pils

Availability: 12oz bottles, Draft.
Arrival: TBA

mercuryAlso coming to shelves is the third Bells Planet Series offering. Mercury will be hitting shelves in December and is a Belgian Single. Here’s more from Bell’s Brewery:

MERCURY

The Winged Messenger

STYLE: Belgian Single

RELEASE DATE: December 2014

ABV: 4.8%

COLOR: Pale, straw

GLASSWARE: Snifter

TASTING NOTES: Light and sessionable like its namesake, the third release in the Bell’s Planet Series, Mercury: The Winged Messenger, was inspired by the Belgian Single, a style traditionally brewed by monks in Belgium for their own consumption.

This interpretation has bready and grainy notes from Belgian malt, herbal and balanced characteristics from the hops and a subtle, but spicy character from the Belgian yeast. Fruity notes of pear are also present in this light, bright and complex session beer.

Bells Brewery Kick Off to Christmas Dec. 19th @ Reds Alehouse

redsI just received the following email from Reds Alehouse. Sounds like Bells is bringing some heavy hitters on the 19th! Some things we haven’t seen in Eastern Iowa before and Oracle on tap will be really nice! Hope to see you there! Here’s the list of brews:

Iowa Breweries Gift Giving Guide 2014

santaDid everyone survive Bourbon County day?! We can now get back to a little normalcy in the beer world. Hope Thanksgiving went well and everyone drank some tasty brews but now it’s on to Christmas! And what better way to show someone you love them than with some great Iowa beer and apparel! (I was going to use the word swag but I think I’m too old). Below is a list I’ve compiled with the help of some great Iowa breweries of items that they have for sale. I’m a sucker for glassware and shirts from breweries so this stuff is right up my alley. The links that follow should take you to each breweries store, please let me know if a link is not working.

millstreamMillstream Brewing Company – Amana, IA:
*Clothing – shirts and hats ranging anywhere from $10-$50
*Glassware – pint glasses to growlers from $4.25 – $35.
*Miscellaneous – signs, koozies, coasters and more!
Baron’s pick: The new Millstream tshirts are pretty sweet and a good price at $17.50, but I think their old school metal sign is the way to go especially if you have a nice little Beer Cave to hang it in. Sign clocks in at $15.70.
http://shop.millstreambrewing.com/

firetruckerFiretrucker Brewery – Ankeny, IA: 

*Clothing – this upstart brewery has 2 t-shirts, a sweatshirt and kick-ass looking biking t-shirt to choose from ranging from $25-$135.
*Glassware – a 16 oz pint glass with their sweet looking logo at $12.
*Miscellaneous – stickers and coasters from $2-$5.
Baron’s pick: Going with the sweatshirt for $55 and the pint glass for $12. Love the logo on both, especially with a nice stout poured behind it.
http://www.firetrucker.com/swag.php

singlespeedSinglespeed Brewery – Cedar Falls, IA:Shamefully I haven’t been to Singlespeed yet, but I’ve heard great things are happening in Cedar Falls. My New Year’s Resolution is to drink more at all Iowa Breweries! 🙂
*Clothing – t-shirts, hoodies, and brewers shirts ranging from $20-$50.
*Glassware – pub glasses, flasks, growlers ranging from $6-$60.
*Miscellaneous – gifts cards and bottle openers.
Baron’s pick: The beer glasses. Gift cards are available in any amount as well.
http://www.singlespeedbrewing.com/gear/default.aspx

lion bridgeLion Bridge Brewery – Cedar Rapids, IA: A spot you can probably find me at on any given weekend. So thankful that they have opened up so close to home. Along with great beer the food is damn good as well (pork nachos anyone?).
*Clothing – t-shirts ranging in color. Nothing on the website yet but they do have a little shop setup in the brewery. I believe I got the last powder blue and red!
*Glassware – If you are a beer glass junkie like myself Lion Bridge can set you up. Taster glasses, pint glasses, snifters, etc. All there, all for sale…I believe. Along with growlers and meowlers.
*Miscellaneous – CSA. Their community sponsored ales program. A one time fee gets you discounts, a t-shirt, growler, 1st growler fill, and growler fills on speciality beers all for $80 I believe.
Baron’s Pick: Well, I’ve already picked up a shirt, glasses, and the CSA will be joined soon. So I guess I’ll recommend all three!

515515 Brewing – Clive, IA – Anytime I’m in the Des Moines area I make a stop at 515. Love the people here, love the atmosphere and love the beer! No online shop as of now but stop in and have a pint and grab something to take home with you.
*Clothing – last time I was there they had 3 different t-shirts to choose from. I got a sweet looking gray with the logo on it.
*Glassware – I vaguely remember a few different glasses to choose from. I bought a nice snifter, perfect for a nice stout or porter!
Baron’s Pick: – Love the t-shirt I own and my snifter, I highly recommend!

toppling goliath Toppling Goliath – Decorah, IA – Arguably the most recognized Iowa brewery has some really cool gear to pick up. I recently picked up a King Sue Teku glass (now kicking myself in the ass for not getting an Assassin Teku as well).
*Clothing – t-shirts, sweatshirts, a nice little pseudosue pack consisting of a hat, shirt, and two coasters.
*Glassware – well, the King Sue and Assassin Tekus rock the shit. Got one, want more. They also have pint glasses, chalices, snifters, with not just the TG logo, but their specific beer logos.
*Miscellaneous – openers, stickers, and coasters.
Baron’s Choice – The Teku is the obvious choice for me. These are awesome!

www.tgbrews.wazala.com

confluenceConfluence Brewing – Des Moines, IA – Confluence keeps rolling out some excellent brews. Really enjoyed Ayana’s Rhino Rye and hope to see it again in the future!
*Clothing -They have sweatshirts, bike jerseys, T’s and other apparel.
*Glassware – 64 oz and 32 oz growlers.
*Baron’s Choice – pick up a t-shirt. I’m not sure what color scheme they have as they don’t currently have an online store, but give them a call or drop them an email. http://www.confluencebrewing.com/

peace treePeace Tree Brewing – Knoxville, IA – Another brewery making big splashes is Peace Tree. Located in Knoxville, this brewery has some really sweet looking apparel and other offerings.
*Clothing – t-shirts and bicycle shirts ranging from $15-$75.
*Glassware – awesome looking glassware and even a cool pint glass and opener set.
*Miscellaneous – bottle caps, openers, patches, labels and more.
*Baron’s Choice – I love the Peace Tree Beanie found here:http://store.peacetreebrewing.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=0001013. Added to my wishlist!

big groveBig Grove Brewery – Solon, IA – nothing has been hotter than Big Grove in Solon. With the amount of attention and recognition they get you’d think they would have been open for years, but it’s only been one! So much good things being created here both beer and food wise, makes this another frequent destination of the Baron.
*Clothing – upon walking in on my last visit I saw the wall to my left had new Big Grove t-shirts made by Tailgate Clothing company! Wonderfully comfortable shirts that always look great. I will be adding all three to my collection.
*Glassware – growlers and the last I was there they still had a few 1 year anniversary tulip glasses for sale. Awesome glasses, highly recommended!
Baron’s Choice – I must own the shirts! They are awesome! You will not be disappointed! Check them out on your next visit. I have 1 year anniversary glass that I great like it’s one of my own children and a growler that I fill frequently! All great stuff!

 

**This holiday, support your local brewery. The above are a few of the wonderful places we are lucky enough to have in our state. I assume most places have gift cards available as well. Below is a link to the complete list of Iowa breweries, find one near you, go there, drink beer, and buy some shit!**

http://www.midwestmicrobrews.com/iowa.html