Ever since 1993, February as been designated “Stout” month. What better way to celebrate the end of January than by cracking a bottle/can of your favorite roasty stout? There are so many great stouts to choose from in our great state, but here’s what I’ll be sipping on this month…plus any others I may cross paths with!
**Lion Bridge Percussive Maintenance** – the perfect beer to pop open during February. I was lucky enough to procure a few bottles and also has this decadent baby on tap. One of the best beers in the state in my opinion. 12% can be scary, but it’s extremely well hidden. Sip on this one and relish it, maybe share it, but make sure you are sharing with someone worthy of this brew.
**Singlespeed Tip the Cow** – sometimes we take for granted those things that are readily available to us. Tip the Cow happens to be one of those beers, You can find it in almost any grocery store in the area and also happens to be a fantastic stout. Coffee and chocolate and I think I’ll have at least two of these!
**Big Grove Richard the Whale** – another harder to get beer that you can’t just pick up at your local grocery store…BUT…this baby is currently on tap at my local watering hole, Chameleon’s Pub and Grub in Mount Vernon, and once I drink that dry I still have a few bottles stashed in the cellar. If you were lucky enough to attend Richard Day, you probably have some variants to drink as well….LUCKY!
**Backpocket Cookie Junkie** – when I first saw this can I thought for sure this beer would be too sweet, but the balance of the peanut butter and the 175 pounds of sandwich cookies was perfect at not cloying at all. After a big winter feast, this is going to be my dessert!
**Clock House Pet Elephant** – the new kid to the party. Just released last weekend. This is an end of nighter, nightcap, grand finale beer. 14% is frightening, and when you finish that last sip it may seem at the moment you could handle another….hold tight….save that next bottle for another evening…get the fireplace going, turn on some Lord Huron lightly in the background, and savor every last drop of this nutter butter filled brew.
There they are! Those 5 for sure and hopefully some more stouts I run into along the way. What stout are you drinking this month and what else do I need to try? Cheers to Stout Month!
Wednesday, October 19 at 10am — Richard the Whale will go on sale for pre-order… then you can sip and sit back with our favorite barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout when he resurfaces on December 3 in our Iowa City, Solon, and Des Moines taprooms.
But it does beg the question… which variant styles should we pull from the oceans of options?? Chocolate Coconut Cake, Well Baked, and Coffee were reallllly tasty in 2021.
I always love when small town bars are able to get their hands on some big time beers and proudly promote and serve them! This weekend, my hometown bar, Chameleon’s Pub and Grub in Mount Vernon will be tapping 3 big bourbon barrel-aged beers, 2 of which are local and also Goose Island Bourbon County stout! This beauty is, you don’t have to dedicate yourself to full pours of these high ABV brews as Chameleon’s is offering flights of them along with their other amazing lineup of craft beers. To go along with the beer, they will be having an amazing cheeseburger special…prepare yourself for….THE BACON JAMBURGER!!! Here’s more courtesy of Chameleon’s Facebook page:
COMING TOMORROW: OUR ANNUAL BOURBON BARREL TAKEOVER ON TAP We were trying to tap them today but we can’t get Richard the Whale until tomorrow. I hope this isn’t and inconvenience but we will have it for sure tomorrow!! Plus a great special to go with it. The Big Boys are coming out to play, so don’t miss out!!We have Goose Island Bourbon County, Big Grove Brewery Richard the Whale and also, Exile Brewing Co. Jesus on a Forklift. These are limited and will go fast so come and get them while you can. We will also have flights available, so try them all. Weekend Special to pair with our Bourbon Barrel Beers is The Bacon Jamburger!! A fresh never frozen Hamburger sits atop homemade Bacon Jam, and then covered with a homemade creamy Cheddar cheese spread that has pimentos, cream cheese, Korean chili paste and sriracha, finished with Lettuce, Pickles and onions. Served with our House Cut Fries. This is a great burger.
Friday night, December 3rd, sitting on a high raise table overlooking some of the best chefs in the state, maybe even the country, put on an absolute clinic on cooking, plating, and presenting some of the most wonderful food I’ve ever had put in front of me, all the while sipping on the yet to be released Richard the Whale Well Baked and Shadeshine IPA….I thought to myself…all food/beer lovers need to experience this one day and how lucky I was at that moment to get to take part in it. Big Grove has been the upper echelon on their releases, especially the Richard the Whale release, and every year they make it even more enjoyable with their food and beer offerings, but the one thing that shines even more than those things is just how amazing their staff is. Friendly, helpful, and just overall looking like they are happy to be there. This setup was a spectacle, setup like an Iron Chef type feel, video displayed on TVs showing the chefs plating, the amount of work and thought put into everything was evident. I won’t be breaking down every dish, I’ll trickle some pictures here and there, take a look and let your mouth water.
Watching the chefs put their talents on display for a 15 course dinner of foods that elegant was the ultimate treat. The care about what they serve, the interaction with the diners, and pure joy and smiles they had throughout the night was reflected in every dish. I do want to implore you, that if the chance to go to a Big Grove beer dinner is ever on the table for you, no matter what..do it…it’s worth it..it will be completely worth it….do not hesitate…this group of people simply do it the best!
Thank you Janelle for having me, thanks to all the chefs especially Ben, Sean, and T.J., thanks do Doug and Matt, thanks to Andy for sampling out some of their amazing beers…now it’s time to make your mouth water with some pictures! Cheers and thank you BG!
Big Grove Brewery has announced the release details for the one of the best, if not the best, beer releases in the state of Iowa as Richard the Whale will be coming back to us on December 4th! Pre Order starts this Wednesday (10/13), check out the information below courtesy of Big Grove for more details! Click HERE for Wednesday’s presale!
Richard the Whale, our bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, resurfaces Saturday, December 4. To get your fins on this big, beautiful four-pack, you can snag it beginning Wednesday at 10AM online at biggrove.com. Additionally, we’ll once again host the Friday night Omakase Dinner at the Iowa City Taproom, featuring the very best in food and beverage from our chefs and brewers—prepared right in front of your table. Saturday, December 4, Richard the Whale returns with brunch for all alongside…HDTV | Imperial Hazy IPA Double Dry Hopped with Galaxy | We took inspiration from our Color TV, which is brewed with a whole lot of Galaxy hops and brewed a truly out-of-this-world beer: HDTV. This one is hitting the airwaves at a whopping 9.2% ABV. Project Hop Fisch | Big Grove collab with Lua Brewing + Toppling Goliath | This second round of the Hop Fisch IPA collab heads into the tanks later this week… and you can count on something special from this trio of Iowa brewmasters. This release is available from our Iowa City Brewery & Taproom and Solon Brewpub.Iowa City 7am-10am: in-house pick-up with brunch menu availableSolon 7am-10am: in-house pick-up with regular menu and breakfast options available No limits. Proxies are allowed with the buyer’s order number and a digital copy of ID. The pick-up for this release is in-house pick-up only and will not include a drive-thru.
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”.
*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.
*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).
*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!
*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!
*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!
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!
Alright folks, make sure you read carefully because the people at Big Grove have carefully outlined a plan for everyone to have a chance for not only getting your hands on one of the best beers brewed in Iowa and its variants but to also have an opportunity to dine on some of the best food you’ll ever taste! Lot’s going on, read carefully, get excited, drink local, enjoy this awesome beer and food given to us by this amazing group of people! Spotted Richard???? I know this is a family friendly event but you can’t tell me a Richard the Whale Spotted Dick shirt isn’t a cash grab! Cheers everyone!
TICKETS ON SALE THIS WEDNESDAY! @ 10 a.m. for all of these options!
DINNER AND RICHARD
𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟑 𝐚𝐭 𝟔:𝟑𝟎𝐩𝐦-𝟗:𝟑𝟎𝐩𝐦𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐓𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐃𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫 4-Pack of Bottles + Glass + 1 Richard Token, redeemable for any beer at any time. We are only offering 25 tickets to this interactive, omakase-style tasting dinner. We will reach out to you after your purchase to confirm your socially distanced table arrangement. Masks are required for each guest. The menu will be released at a later date. ($250 each)𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟒 𝐚𝐭 𝟔:𝟑𝟎𝐩𝐦-𝟗:𝟑𝟎𝐩𝐦𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐓𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐃𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫 4-Pack of Bottles + Glass + 1 Richard Token, redeemable for any beer at any time. We are only offering 25 tickets to this interactive, omakase-style tasting dinner. We will reach out to you after your purchase to confirm your socially distanced table arrangement. Masks are required for each guest. The menu will be released at a later date. ($250 each)
BEER AND GOLDEN TICKET
𝐒𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟓 𝐚𝐭 𝟕:𝟎𝟎𝐚𝐦 4-Pack of Bottles + Glass + 1 Richard Token, redeemable for any beer at any time. | Saturday, December 5 at 7am. Can be picked up at the Iowa City Bottomless Family Style Brunch, the Iowa City drive-thru, or the Solon Drive-thru. ($85 each) 𝐒𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟓 𝐚𝐭 𝟕:𝟎𝟎𝐚𝐦 One Golden Ticket Richard the Whale | Saturday, December 5 at 7am. Can be picked up at the Iowa City Bottomless Family Style Brunch, the Iowa City drive-thru, or the Solon Drive-thru. ($40 each
All Release Party ticket holders will receive: • Two (2) 375 mL bottles of 2020 Richard the Whale • One (1) 375 mL bottle of 2020 with JBC Roasters Coffee • One (1) 375 mL bottle of 2020 Spotted Richard • One (1) 2020 Richard the Whale commemorative glassBottomless Family-Style Brunch | 7am-10am • $25 – purchase Saturday, December 5 on-site at the Iowa City location only • Masks are required for each guest • Menu released soon! GOLDEN TICKET – Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee (500 mL)We decided to make everything a little simpler this year— so we are selling our Golden Ticket online this year. Better get them fast because they won’t last long! Golden Ticket beer: Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee (500 mL). As in year’s past, we will be loading up our tap lines with some very special beers, including 2020 Richard the Whale, Richard variants, and surprises. For those that came to last year’s release event, expect a similar day of drinking, laughter, and good cheer. SCHEDULE FOR THE EVENT:7am – Doors open to Big Grove Brewery & Taproom (Iowa City). Drive-thru is available at Iowa City and Solon locations. 7am – Brunch experience and Drive-thru begins, 4-pack pick-up10am – Brunch party, Drive-thru, and ticketed event ends11am – Regular food menu available and Big Grove is open to the publicAll-day – Enjoy a beer with your friends and the Big Grove brewersADDITIONAL INFORMATION: • We will be maintaining our social distancing guidelines. Please wear your mask and help us stay safe. • There will be no overnight lines. You may enter our waitlist starting at 6am. We ask that once your name is placed on the list, you can wait in your car or around one of our social distanced firepits. You will receive a text message when your table is ready. • One Golden Ticket bottle per person. • All Ticket holders must bring a valid photo ID. • Ticket holders must be 21 years of age or older at the time of purchasing the Ticket. • Proxy bottle pickups can begin to pick up at 7am. • Pre-Sale ticket holders may pick up their bottles between 7am and 10am during the event. • Please have your order number ready. We will be checking individuals off our list. • Please do not bring open bottles into the taproom. • There will be no overnight lines. You may enter our waitlist starting at 6am. We ask that once your name is placed on the list, you can wait in your car or around one of our socially distanced firepits. You will receive a text message when your table is ready.
Big news from Big Grove Brewery last night as they subtly announced the release date for Richard the Whale for December 5th! It was a sneak peek at a Richard sampling so as of now, no details on the process release were given, but stay tuned for more information on that as that date approaches! Here’s what BG had to say courtesy of their Facebook page:
Pulled a sample of Richard the Whale 2020 today from this Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel. Annnnd can bet the beer is fire 🔥 But you may not know the barrel (and more specifically the nail we used to pierce the barrel) was on fire to keep the process sanitary. 😏 Oh and save the date for Saturday, December 5 for the release of our favorite barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout 🐳
More great beer news as we approach this weekend. Not only will Big Grove be hosting another drive-thru with some new beers for us, but you also have a chance at landing a crowler of Richard the Whale Coffee crowler, among other beers, if you head to Mickey’s Irish Pub in downtown Iowa City! Here are the deets and beers they will have at Mickeys:
This Saturday, May 9th, we are selling some special 32 oz crowlers from our friends at Big Grove for carryout only starting at 11am.
-Big Grove Richard the Whale Coffee Variant, 1pp, $28
-Into the Woods Fruited Sour, Big Grove and Cooper Kettle colab 1pp, $16
-Pineapple Mango Main Street Wheat $12
We are also going to have growlers available of the following:
-Big Grove Iowa City Lager
-Big Grove Starcourt hazy IPA
-Big Grove Strawberry Cherry Swirl
-ReUnion Juice Factory
-Single Speed Hard Won not Done
-Barn Town Cherry Limeaide
We also have a very limited amount of fresh ReUnion Dr. Dank cans for sale, $3.75 per can.
Add our famous pretzel bites with house made beer cheese, and stone ground mustard for $5 with any beer purchase.
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!