Beer Review #117: Lion Bridge Brewing Whirligig

lion bridgeI’ve become a regular at Lion Bridge as I had been spending a decent amount of the month of July at St. Luke’s hospital for a family emergency. And though I always intend to spend dinner time at a Subway or even do the unthinkable and eat the hospital food with my “free” meal pass, I always took that time and wandered around the downtown Cedar Rapids area. Many stops at Batas (review to come), beers at Parlor City, a buffalo chicken wrap at Bricks, and then the majority of my stops would always conclude at Lion Bridge Brewery in the Czech Village.

I’ve enjoyed many of the beers here, the smoked chocolate stout on Nitro, the Ziva Voda, the new double IPA, El Doble has quickly become a favorite but I was really impressed with Quinton’s new saison style brew called Whirligig. I know saisons are not a style for everyone, but I do think they are climbing the ladder into the niche market of double ipas, barrel aged anything, and sours.

The first flavor I experienced from this brew was a bazooka like bubble gum flavor followed nicely by the mild tart and bitterness. A really refreshing brew that I intend to have growlers of during the Iowa Hawkeye football season to enjoy. Almost seemed like a mix of a saison and an American wheat brew. Very drinkable and very tasty!

Not only is Lion Bridge doing great things beer related, their kitchen also impresses. Locally made sausages, meat and cheese plates, pulled pork nachos (fantastic!), reuben fritters,  and muffaletta fingers make fantastic companions to the beer that flows through this brewery. The staff is always friendly and accommodating and the brewer is usually on hand happy to have a conversation with you. If in the area check this place out, grab a growler and enjoy!


STYLE: Saison

ABV: 4.5%

PURCHASED AT: Lion Bridge Brewery; Cedar Rapids, IA

POUR: Hazy yellow pour, nice white head.

AROMA: A little barnyard, lemon, grass.

TASTE: Bubble gum, lemon, grassy notes. rating: N/A

Beeradvocate rating: N/A

Overall: B

My recommendation:Between Lion Bridge and Big Grove, you’ll usually can find the Baron at one of these locations!


Guest Review by Matt Poge: Cinder Block Brewery; Kansas City, MO

CB frontThanks to my good friend Matt Poge on the review. Definitely a place to visit if you are ever in the Kansas City area:

Since I moved up to the north part of Kansas City last summer one of the places I’ve been told I had to check out was Cinder Block Brewery.  Coinciding with our move was the birth of our first child, so free time and nights out on the town have been scarce for the past year to say the least.  We finally got over to Cinder Block this past weekend and I have nothing but good things to say about their beers and taproom.  My wife and I were really impressed and will be going back every chance we get.

The brewery is located in North Kansas City, an area I knew CB Signvery little about until the past 6 months or so.  We have made our way over there a few times to check out a really unique theater (Screenland Armour, which has a nice little selection of beers on tap, by the way) and to have some barbecue at Smoking Guns, which we had seen on the Food Network.

FlightCinder Block has a nice open taproom area with a plenty of seating and a large bar to belly up to.  They have bar snacks and popcorn, and you are welcome to bring in your own food.   Every Friday and Saturday they have the “Back Rack Grill” food truck set up outside the brewery.  After smelling the bbq from the truck when we walked into the place, I was wishing we hadn’t eaten before we came.  On the night we were there we were treated to a cowboy-hatted duo that played live music featuring covers of anything from Prince to Dwight Yoakam to Beck.  They were great.

Onto the beers: (Disclaimer—My palate is not as refined as the Baron’s, and although I have put back a few brews in my time I claim no expertise when it comes to beer. This is a weekend warrior’s take, if you will).

Northtown Native (California Common) – Perfect session beer.  I could drink a lot of these (and did, in fact).  Nothing overwhelming here, just a light, crisp beer that has a slight malt and hop taste to give it a little character.

Prime Extra Pale Ale (American Pale Ale) – Got a lot of citrus with the aroma on this one, and it definitely had some fruit in the taste as well.  I’ve always had trouble distinguishing between certain pale ales and IPA’s.  There is a blind spot in my palate, I think.  My wife liked this one more than I did, which is not to say that I didn’t like it.

Paver Porter (Porter) – I’m a sucker for a good stout or porter.  This was my favorite beer that I tried.  Big on malt with a little chocolate and just a touch bitter.  This is the type of beer I want to be clutching in my paws when they bury me.  I actually had this one at a craft beer festival a few months back so I knew what to expect.  Big fan.

Block IPA (IPA) – This one surprised me, as I am admittedly not a huge IPA guy.  The description provided by the brewery claims a burst of green hop and pine flavors, and that is certainly accurate.  Very hoppy, very crisp.  Good beer.

Hop Maven #2 (IPA)– This was the seasonal that came with our sampler flight.  Just like with the Block IPA I liked this one better than I thought I might.  In fact, I might put this as my second favorite beer that I had after the porter.  Tasted more like a session IPA, with a very smooth feel to it.  The right amount of hops and bitterness.

Weathered Wit (Belgian Wit) – This was the last one I had from the sampler that we got and I think the taste got lost a little bit after I had been drinking the IPA’s and the porter.  My wife said she liked this one a lot, and I will have to give this another go sometime after I have cleansed my palate thoroughly.

Restaurant Review: Brix Cheese Shop and Wine Bar; Iowa City, IA

brixI’ve told my wife if I could open up any type of restaurant or bar it would be a charcuterie, cheese and beer store. Food and beer go hand in hand and at Brix Cheese Shop and Wine Bar in Iowa City, (209 N. Linn St.) they have a huge selection of great cheese and meat pairings. Obviously, as the name of the restaurant implies, they have a massive selection of fine wines. Unfortunately, the Baron doesn’t really know a damn thing about wine, (I enjoy it, just don’t know much), but I did notice that they had 6 craft taps. After talking to the waiter, who was wonderfully patient with me and knowledgeable, he said they always carry a Toppling Goliath brew and are constantly rotating their taps. I went for a Destihl Brewing stout and on the recommendation of the waiter, ordered the Monger’s Choice which ended up being half a sheeps milk and half a goat’s milk halved with some sort of ash consistency that paired great with my beer. Along with some strips of pancetta and crunchy, chewy bread, I was in heaven.

brix1Along with the great meat and cheese selections they had a huge menu full of sandwiches as well. This is going to be a stop I make frequently when in that area of Iowa City. Very impressed with the staff and selection and even if you don’t know much about wine, they have some excellent beers on tap as well. I can’t wait to get back! Cheers!

Jubeck’s New World Brewery opening in Dubuque July 17th!

jubeckJay Jubeck has announced that his brewery in Dubuque will be opening their doors on July 17th. They currently feature 5 beers on their website:

Golden Hybrid Beer

A light hybrid session beer of blondish gold hue with a slight honey-like sweetness and a mild herbal hop character.

Lavender Honey-Wheat

A delightfully refreshing light wheat ale with a subtle spicy herbal flavor.

Warrior Stout

A bold imperial stout with a full-bodied, roasty, malty flavor.

Dark IPA

Wonderfully dark and slightly roasty, but not too much roasted malt bitterness.

Apricot Pale Ale

American pale ale style beer finished with a healthy dose of citra hops and dried apricots, added late in the boil, for a subtle fruity flavor.
Jubeck recently interviewed with KCRG to discuss the upcoming opening. Here’s the link to that interview:

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI hitting shelves

black butteI haven’t seen or heard anyone picking up or seeing bottles of this on the shelves, but according to a Ratebeer email this brew hit shelves the 27th. Still waiting on confirmation from a few beer retailers but it should be here soon. Here’s the press release:

26th Birthday Reserve
Limited Quantities
Alc. 10.8%
22 oz serving
Our 26th anniversary Imperial Porter was aged in bourbon barrels and dry spiced with Theo Chocolate’s cocoa nibs, revealing hints of vanilla and chocolate. Pomegranate molasses and Oregon cranberries complement the robust flavor with a hint of fruit and just enough tart to make you smile. 

Malt: Pale, Wheat, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate, Crystal
Hops: Millennium, Cascade, US Tettnang
Other: Theo Chocolate Cocoa Nibs, Pomegranate Molasses, Cranberries
Barrel-Aging: 6 Months in Bourbon (50%)

Released June 27th, 2014
Toasted Walnut Buttermilk Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup 
Black-Pepper Crusted New York Steaks with Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto

Guest Review: sLim Reviews Eatery A; Des Moines, IA

eatery AThanks for the review sLim!
Been too long since my last guest review. Time to shake off the cobwebs and get back at it! I’ll start it off by getting the word out on a fairly new dining venue in the Ingersoll corridor of Des Moines, located at 2932 Ingersoll Ave . The restaurant goes by the name “Eatery A”. Initially I thought I was going to be dining at an Italian Restaurant. But upon reading the menu, it appears they’re labeled as a Mediterranean. The first of which sLim has ever been to (I mean, would you ever expect a guy who goes by the name of sLim to eat at a place that didn’t have chicken-fried steak on the menu?).
The inner and outer décor suit the place very well. Very modern and artistic, their large, elevated patio overlooks quaint Ingersoll Avenue. The inside was upscale and welcoming at the same time. Think along the lines of a slightly more casual Cheesecake Factory.
Happy Hour-This establishment is really pushing their happy hour specials to bring in customers. It runs from 3-6, EVERY day of the week. At this time, you can get half-price pizzas and half-price wine and draft beers. The pizzas are roughly 12’’ which can easily feed one person or two people with moderate appetites. I was impressed by how many people were there at 5 on a Tuesday. While the restaurant was booming, it still gave off a relaxed atmosphere. I would highly recommend taking advantage of these specials the first time you go there, and with it being offered 7 days a week they are accommodating to nearly anyone’s schedule.
Beer-Their selection is respectable. Their wine selection is a bit more extensive but there are enough beer offerings to satisfy your typical craft brew junkie. It was good to see mostly Iowa breweries featured in their limited tap offerings (Confluence, Millstream, and Backpocket). The more notable beers are offered in bottles (Ommegang Abbey, Stillwater Statewide Saison, and Green Flash Double Stout). They did a good job of making sure all styles were covered so that virtually any food item on their menu would have a corresponding drink that would pair well.
Food-As I stated earlier, the pizza is what I came to try. While they have 14 different offerings, all priced at $13, they are not the types of pizzas you would see offered at Godfather’s. If you’re like me, you wouldn’t know what you were getting yourself into based off of the unfamiliar names of the ingredients.  Rest assured, your server can clear things up for you and help you select one that would like. I went with the #5 which was somewhat of a gyro turned pizza conglomeration. I was impressed; the gyro meat combined with the white sauce is what stood out to me the most. Many of their other menu offerings look very worthwhile in addition to their well established wood-fired pizza.
All in all, this is a fine new restaurant to the Des Moines area, perfect for nearly any occasion. They are doing a lot of things right and I believe it’ll translate to success in the long run. There are several other places nearby so that you could make quite the experience out of a trip to this area. You could grab a post meal dessert/drink at Crème cupcake or a drink on the patio at the original Wellman’s. No shortage of options in this area but whatever the case, be sure to include Eatery A in on your next visit to the Ingersoll corridor.

More Bell’s Brewery cans on the way!

Bells-Brewery-Seasonal-cansThe following comes from

Press Release: 

(Comstock, MI) – Following the successful launch of Two Hearted and Oberon Ale in 16 oz. 4-packs, we are proud to announce and share the look of the rest of our seasonal lineup in cans.

Best Brown Ale, Winter White and Smitten Golden Rye Ale will be available in cans for the first time later this year and early next year.

All three seasonal beers will continue to be available on draft and in both 6-pack and 12-pack bottles.

“We love being able to offer these brands in both cans and glass to suit the various lifestyles of our customers and fans,” said Laura Bell, Bell’s Brewery Vice President.

Best Brown Ale will be Bell’s third can offering and will be available along with bottles and on draft beginning around Labor Day. All three seasonal beers will be available in the same 16 oz. 4-packs.
Cans of Winter White will be released in November and Smitten will return in February.

What’s your Session IPA?

India Session Ales are defined as an IPA that has all the hop presence of a regular IPA but has a significant lower ABV level making it “sessionable”. Eastern Iowa shelves have seen a considerable jump in sessionable IPAs and with the warmer “lawnmowing” weather taking over and soon tailgating season begins, this is the perfect time for brewers and breweries to take advantage of this subcategory of IPAs. Let’s focus on what we can get strictly in Eastern Iowa,  and the one that started the trend for us, I believe, is Founders All Day IPA. So let’s break this down a bit, cue the music:

**Founders All Day IPA**
ABV: 4.7%
Ratebeer: 96/100
Beeradvocate: 87/100

foundersFounders started this strictly in 6 pack bottles and then made the genius move of putting it in cans allowing for easier mobility and also easier to dispose of (see Iowa Football tailgating). This was the beer of choice at the Beer Baron’s tailgates last fall and will probably be again this year. All the things you are looking for in an IPA is evident: great hop flavor, a bit of sweet resin, and bit of malt backbone. Founders is a top-tier brewery, and this brew helps solidify that.



schlafly**Schlafly Session IPA** 
ABV: 4.5%
Ratebeer: 88/100
Beeradvocate: 82/100

Schlafly has really made their mark since hitting Eastern Iowa stores with various styles and last summer, their can sessions started showing up. Coming in 6 packs, this beer does a great job in giving you that initial hop flavor and maltiness to balance. This one seemed a bit sweeter to me than the All Day from Founders but still good.


stone go to**Stone Go To IPA**
ABV: 4.5%
Ratebeer: 97/100
Beeradvocate: 89/100

The newer of the sessionable IPAs, Stone gives us what Stone usually does, an intense hop forward beer that packs a punch! I got a lot of grapefruit and pine flavor from this beer with minimal to no malt balance. Stone starts putting this in cans and we might have a competition with Founders.


pop up**Boulevard Pop Up Session**
ABV: 4.2%
Ratebeer: 94/100
Beeradvocate: 84/100

I recently had this for the first time at a local bar which shocked the hell out me that they actually had it on tap. Not really known for their great craft beer, and their options were limited, I went for the Pop Up. I honestly admit I’m not a huge fan of Boulevard’s IPAs, but I do really love their Smokestack stuff, but I thought I’d give it a go. Floral and citrus aroma with slight but evident citrus hop flavor.

**OVERALL** – If you are looking for a summer party brew you can’t go wrong with any of these beers. They are all very good sessionable IPAs. The cans from Founders and Schlafly make it easier to take to a BBQ or picnic and Founders recently introduced a 15 pack of All Day cans. I haven’t had Hop Rise from Central Waters yet and if/when Lagunitas gets here they will have Daytime IPA too. Either way, drinking any of these this summer or fall can easily lead to a (SLIM and Matt, this is dedicated to you)……..

MY PICK: If I had to choose one, gun to my head, I think I would go with Founders All Day IPA. I think it’s the most balanced but also has the great hop flavor. What’s your Session IPA?


Stone Release Updates: RuinTen + Unapologetic IPA , more!

StoneStone will be bringing back RuinTen IPA to our shelves this June and also have set dates for future releases and hopefully we will see some of their 22 oz bomber IPA offerings. Their newest, is Unapologetic IPA brewed in collaboration with Beachwood Brewing Company. Here’s more info on the latest courtesy of

(Escondido, CA) – Details have emerged for the re-release of Stone Brewing Co.’s RuinTen IPA. The beer will first make a soft landing in the company’s Mixed 4 Pack (22oz.) on June 9th. The pack also features Stone IPA, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA and Stone Ruination IPA. A week later, RuinTen IPA will strike out on its own in single-serve 22 oz. bottles. 

 Stone Brewing Co. is set to release another a limited beer in 22 oz. bottles and guess what style it is?

The company addresses the issue of brewing Double IPA after Double IPA head-on in the label copy for Unapologetic IPA, a collab with Beachwood Brewing and Heretic Brewing.

When you get three hopheads together to collaborate on a beer, it’s only natural to expect some hopped-up liquid incarnation of their lupulin lust to spring forth from such a session. Maybe it seems passe to some- three masters of hoppy beer once again exploring the familiar territory of the India pale ale. After all, who needs yet another IPA, double or otherwise, right? It’s all been done. To those who feel this way, this trio’s reply is: “So what?”

In birthing a double IPA made bitter and fruity care of a melange of new and experimental hops (Azacca and Belma, as well as HBC 342 and Steiner 06300, yet-to-be-named varieties from Washington’s Yakima Valley), they aren’t staying in a comfort zone […]

The company just released Collective Distortion IPA and will release a couple more Double IPAs in the next few weeks. No release date has been announced for Unapologetic IPA. Here are some other upcoming beers (note that this list is subject to change):

Keri Kelli Kyle Hollingsworth Stone Collective Distortion IPA – Just released on 5/19 (Also available on limited tour)
Stone Enjoy By 07.04.14 IPA – 5/30
Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale – 6/2
Stone RuinTen IPA in Mixed 4-Packs only – 6/9
Stone RuinTen IPA – 6/16
Beachwood Heretic Stone Unapologetic IPA – No ETA announced
Stone 18th Anniversary Ale – 8/18
Stone Smoked Porter Fall Release – 9/29
Double Bastard Ale – 10/31
Lukcy Basartd Ale – 10/31
Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean – 12/1