Best of Iowa Beer (Part 2 of 2)

baron.jpgFinally, after a few weeks I’m finally getting back to finishing the Top Ten list that everyone’s been waiting for….(crickets)…..Anyway, with all the great things happening in the Iowa beer scene, every year making a list becomes that more difficult. There are so many breweries I would like to visit, and some I wish I could spend more time at. New Year’s Resolutions are always fun but sometimes get forgotten. I, however, will make one of my Resolutions happen…I will make it to some more Iowa breweries, I will continue supporting my local breweries, and I will continue supporting the Iowa Beer Community! Onto the final five!

backpocket*Backpocket 5th Anniversary Stout – many are hailing this as their Iowa Beer of the Year and it would be hard to argue. I thought I had missed out on this beer until a lunch trip to Backpocket Pilot Pub in downtown Cedar Rapids and to my astonishment, 5th Anniversary was still on the lines. After a Grinch-like smile, I went ahead and ordered one…..and then another….and then…kidding, only two but it totally lived up to the hype. If you still are sitting on lucky bastard…

The deets:

12.3% ABV

Russian Imperial Stout

third base*Third Base Miserable in Mexico – I had this beer at the 2017 Brrr Fest (missing this year unfortunately) and was blown away. Jim has been making some great beers for a while now and has 3rd Base as an under the radar brewery.  Miserable and Mexico would have been the perfect beer to have these past few weeks in chilly-ass Iowa. Booziness from the bourbon, a bit of heat from the pepper and a ton of chocolate. Boozy Mexican hot chocolate..yes please! Well done Jim and 3rd Base!

The deets:

12.5% ABV

It all started when we put our “Endless Descent Into Ruin” imperial stout in a bourbon barrel and let it rest for 8 months. It emerged as “Miserable.” We then took Miserable and infused it with chocolate and chili peppers. Grown up Mexi Hot (Cold) chocolate

pulpi*Pulpit Rock Rechoncho – Another Brrr Fest 2017 beer and another imperial stout to add to my list. Another brew similar to a Mexico hot chocolate but with some added vanilla to it. Pulpit Rock has become a big time player in the Iowa beer game in a short amount of time and 2018 will be even bigger and better for them.

The deets:

12.2% ABV

Spanish for Pudgy – this decadent stout was brewed with Ancho and Chipotle chile peppers, cocoa, cinnamon, Mexican vanilla beans, & coffee.

barn town*Barn Town Brewery Pulp Non-Fiction – the new kid on the block has taken off pretty damn fast as a must try brewery! I finally got to visit and not only were the beers tasty but the food was excellent as well. Check out my write-up on Barn Town here: I was pleasantly surprised to this brew on tap at 30hop and have since seen some Barn Town pop up at a few other Eastern Iowa locations and hopefully we see them hit even more spots in 2018. A hazy, NE style juice bomb full of the murky, hoppy goodness!

The deets:


A juicy & hazy NEIPA brewed with Simcoe, El Dorado & Citra. Roy-al-ly hopped!

lion bridge*Lion Bridge Majestic Beast – I’ve been a fan of all of Lion Bridge’s IPAs when released but it seems recently they’ve really upped their game. Dangler was delicious, they now have Triple IPA that’s been barrel-aged slightly and one that I hope that they bring back is Majestic Beast. A 7% IPA that is extremely drinkable made with a journey into Lupulin powderes. Lion Bridge continues to impress, in every beer style, in food, in what it means to be a local business. More of this please!

The deets:


First foray into lupulin powders has produced this mirthful beverage. By using a hop with the green plant material removed we are only dry hopping a concentrated version of the aromatic oils found in eukanot and mosaic. Resinous and tropical; potent yet graceful.

There you have it! The list of Best of Iowa beers 2017. Chances are your list looks a bit different but that’s what makes drinking and trying local beer great! It was stressful, I’m sweating and need a beer. I also have to give a shout out to Nick Jubeck for creating the Iowa Beer Baron logo at the top of the post! Thanks man, check out and like his Facebook page by clicking here: Cheers to the breweries who make the beers, the restaurants and bars that serve them and cheers to 2018!


Surly Gives a Damn Event: Jan. 27th, Bur Oak Land Trust; Iowa City, IA!

Isurly gives a damnf you can give a helping hand, Surly Gives a Damn will be at Bur Oak Land Trust in Iowa City on Saturday January 27th from 9-11:30 a.m. Do a little work and then head to the local watering hole for some free beers. Here are the deets:

The Details:
Join Surly Gives A Damn on Saturday, January 27th from 9:00am-11:30am to gather and burn excess brush with Bur Oak Land Trust. Afterwards we’ll head to a local watering hole for a FREE Surly beer. Join us and do some good! 

When: Saturday, January 27th from 9:00am-11:30am, with a free Surly beer to follow

Where:  1201 N Dodge St   Iowa City, IA 52245

The link to the main Surly Gives a Damn page can be found here:– gives-a-damn/

The direct link to the sign-up for this event can be found here (this can also be accessed from the main SGAD page):

Lion Bridge Barrel Aged January continues with Single Barrel Oud Bruin!

lion bridgeBarrel-aged January at Lion Bridge Brewing company continues this week as they release their single barrel Oud Bruin. That’s not all from Lion Bridge this week as they also have some delicious sounding Coconut Imperial Brown Ale that will be tapped this Friday! I’m hoping to stop by this Sunday, so if you’re there give me a shout! Here’s more from Lion Bridge for this week:

The focus of week 1 was malt. Rich and lip-smacking maltiness. We hope you made it in to try the Mole XXXX. It was a delicious, nutritious?, spicy beer, and it sold out in a few hours. XXXX Mild and Eis Mild are still around if you weren’t able to make it in. Also unique and amazingly malty beers and made in slightly larger quantities.

This week we start off on the other end of the spectrum…acidity. We dabbled in an Oud Bruin (Flemish Style Sour Brown Ale) in 2017 which was really nice, but I dare say that with this 2018 version we are almost near perfection. In September 2016, we managed to score some fruited whiskey barrels from a guy who knows a guy who knows a gal, that already had a plethora of beautiful yeast and bacteria stuck in their tiny wooden pores. We brewed a 20bbl batch of our Oud Bruin base beer, filled these magic barrels, and waited…and waited…and waited. November 2017 we were like, “Hey, let’s see what we got.” And what we got was a “LET’S HI-FIVE THIS IS AMAZING!!” transformation. Cherry pie cherries, chocolate, bright acidity and loveliness just loveliness. We will eventually blend all the barrels together to make a bottled version, but we chose a barrel we especially loved to present it, unblended, as part of Barrel-Aged January 2018. We hope you enjoy Barrel #354.

We will have live music by Justin Goodchild this fine eve from 6-8pm.

Friday, 1/12 – In kind of a last minute epiphany, we decided not to empty every Wild Turkey Barrel of our Gobble Wobble. We saved 2 barrels with the idea that they were destined to become our Coconut Imperial Brown Ale. And guess what…they have become that. Ya, I know…pretty pretty exciting. The beer had a couple more months in the Wild Turkey barrels to smooth a bit more and soak up some booze, and then we blended it with a lot of toasted coconut. The result is a harmonious beverage that melds barrel and beer and coconut and longing for for warmer months and coziness with winter shelter. If acidity and “sour” beers ain’t your thing, don’t stray too far. On Friday, this beer will give you a warm hug.

Sunday 1/14 – We will pour a super limited 5 gallons of a coffee version of the liquid hug described above. We open at 11am!

And, as mentioned in the header…We are now opening for Lunch on Friday (11am), and 11am on Saturday and Sunday as well. You can now stop pacing about and get yourself to Lion Bridge earlier to get your Barrel-Aged January fix.

Dogfish Head coming to Iowa in February

Dogfish Head, one of the most well-known brewery names in the country, will be making their way to Iowa shelves in February. I’m not sure on the portfolio that they will be bringing to Iowa when they hit but it will be with Johnson Brothers. I’ll pass along any more info when I get it. Until then, check out Dogfish’s 2018 lineup!


A Stop at Barn Town Brewery…Iowa’s Best New Brewery

barn town2017 brought many great things to the Iowa beer scene. More beers on our shelves, expansion of TG and Big Grove, brewers brewing some of best beers in the midwest, and also the introduction of some new breweries in Iowa. One of the newest breweries is no secret as their beers have been all over social media and with their slow but steady process of getting their beers on Eastern Iowa lines, more and more Iowans have been able to enjoy them. The brewery, obviously, is Barn Town.


I’ve had a few of their beers on tap at 30hop and Tin Roost but finally got to make a quick stop at the brewery itself as I was passing through Des Moines. A very easy trip right off of I-80 in a newer developed area that is very close to Jordan Creek Mall for any shopping aficionados, (beer helps shopping), Barn Town was the perfect pit stop after a long ride from Colorado. College Football games on their many TVs, a shuffleboard table against the back wall, and most important for my family is that it is kid friendly.

So I decided to do a sampler of 4 and enjoyed the 2 stouts and berliner-weisse I had but the Hop Skewer really stuck out to me so I got a regular draw of that. A murky juice bomb of an IPA that leaves you wanting another glass. Barn Town did a great job with this beer, good enough for me to get a crowler to take home.

barn town.jpg

Barn Town’s menu is pretty unique. Some great sounding sandwiches, burgers, sides, and more. My wife decided on the crab rangoon chicken sandwich with is exactly what it sounds like. Fried chicken with a rangoon/cream cheese spread, chili sauce and wontons. It was very tasty, something I would order again. What did my fat ass order? Oh, just the Poutine burger… two patties, covered with melted cheese and gravy and served over know..the lighter fare. It was delicious, plus their ranch that they serve with the fries is very good.

So many good things happening in the Iowa beer world and Barn Town has just added to it. The Des Moines area has a great thing going with breweries like Barn Town, 515, Firetrucker, Confluence, Exile and also the beer bars; El Bait, Iowa Taproom, Keg Stand, etc. A 2 hour trip to Des Moines needs to happen more often for myself, although I’m very content with my local offerings, it’s nice to see what’s going on elsewhere in the state.

Best of Iowa Beers (Part 1 of 2)

beerbaronWith another year coming to an end it’s time to get to the “Best of” Iowa beers in 2017. It was a terrific year for our state and this year for my list (and opinions) I’ve done just strictly Iowa brewed beers whereas in the past I did beers that are on Eastern Iowa shelves along with Iowa beers. To get the list down to 10 was difficult and I had to drink many beers to get through such a dilemma.

Now, I must say, I haven’t been able to get to Central and Western Iowa as much as I would have liked so you will see this list filled predominantly with beers brewed in Eastern Iowa. I wish I could get more or any 515, Barn Town, Marto, etc…but it’s not in the cards. Hopefully with the new year we see some more Iowa beers from Central and Western Iowa trickle into our tap lines. So, once again, I just want to note that there are MANY beers I haven’t tried, I don’t want to cause I shit storm (RIP Lahey), but hopefully the new year brings me new beer.

Alright, my criteria:
1. It has to be a beer I haven’t had before.
2. Seasonal and annual releases may fluctuate in ingredients but I do not count them if I have had it the previous year.
3. Iowa brewed only

Without further ado, here is part one of two, in no particular order of the best Iowa beers in 2017 (according to me).

fire skulls**Toppling Goliath – Fire, Skulls, and Money – I was deciding between this and Supa Sumo and the deciding factor was how much of this beer I’ve bought. Price was a little steeper than some TG releases but worth it for this brew. I believe this was their take/rendition of a West Coast style IPA.  I found it to be less bitter than many west coast styles with an excellent citra punch. Could easily have two of this brewin a sitting. I’ve seen some bottles around yet and had one last weekend. Tastes great, go grab some!
The Deets:

7% ABV
Inspired by a trip to the West Coast, designed to capture the wild spirit of adventure and brewed to be enjoyed with friends. This rich IPA is for those with wanderlust in their heart and fire in their eyes. Join our Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Nelson Hops on a journey to the bottom of your glass

coconut.png**SingleSpeed Coconut Migration – My beer of the summer. The first time I had it was sample at Need Pizza, my wife got a whole pint but I was a bit apprehensive, wasn’t sure the pina colada thing would fly in an IPA. Took a sip…was hooked. Sought it out all summer and ended up back and Need and the Map Room quite often hammering a few of these. Give me this poolside or beachside and I’m in heaven. I’m not sure if this is year round or not but I’ve been seeing it a little more often. If you dig Pina Coladas and you’re a hophead, this is the beer for you.
The Deets:

7.4% ABV

75 IBU
American Double IPA, rested on toasted coconut
A Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. (Decorah, IA) / SingleSpeed Brewing Co. Collaboration Brewing with the guys from Pulpit Rock is like taking a vacation. This time around our destination is the tropics. If you like Piña Coladas and/or getting caught in the rain you’re probably gonna be feeling this beer. If you don’t like either of those things, well that sucks for you. We still recommend ordering one.

richard.jpg**Big Grove Jean Luc Richard – The first time I had this I thought maybe the setting of the event I was at played into how much I loved it, and it may have a bit, but I’ve had since the Kroul Farm’s dinner and it is still a spectacular beer. Like many barrel-aged stouts, the flavor in this one shines as it warms and the creme brulee flavors take shape even more. Is it considered “dick swinging” if I brag about how I’m the number 1 drinker of this brew on untappd, or is that just a pathetic brag? Oh well. Not sure how often Big Grove will be kicking this bad boy out, but if you see, go after it!
The Deets:

10.5% ABV
Barrel aged imperial stout with vanilla beans, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Inspired by crème brûlèe.

dangler.jpg**Lion Bridge Dangler – another awesome Iowa brewed IPA made it’s debut this past summer and was a hit with many. Lower on the ABV than some IPAs, which is not a bad thing, made for an extremely drinkable IPA with all the tropical and citrus flavors you expect from a great IPA. Lion Bridge continues to make excellent beers in many different styles. One of my favorite places to go for a drink and bite to eat in Eastern Iowa. Also, their nachos and fries with the lemon aioli are fantastic.
The Deets:

Pair Mosaic, Simcoe, and Idaho 7 hops with a fruit-forward yeast and a malt profile full of wheat and oats, and the result is a juice bomb full of creamy mango and orange flavors.

kickshaw**Kickshaw Vidi – Even though Bill has moved on to other things (fingers crossed he brews again), this beer blows me away every time I have it. Bottles may not have strayed too far away from Eastern Iowa, I’m happily sitting on a few, but if you come across one, you need to give it a try. Of course, it’s not an IPA or barrel-aged stout, but a wonderful golden ale/saison with greatness from the brett. You like sours and saisons, then you would enjoy this.

Alright, there’s the first five. Five more to come next week. I would love to know your favorites of the year! Cheers to all the Iowa breweries and brewers out there; your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated!

Winestyles Iowa River Landing Hosting Brrr Fest Blowout Sale and Madhouse Tap Takeover Jan. 26th!

winestylesBrrr Fest weekend gets even better as the Iowa River Landing Winestyles location is hosting a Madhouse Brewing tap takeover Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th during Brrr Fest weekend! Here are the deets courtesy of Winestyles Facebook page:

To help celebrate the BrrrFest Awesomeness, we will be having a 2 dayMadhouse Brewing Company Tap Takeover & BrrrFest blowout sale, Friday and Saturday:

10% off all Beer Sales (15% off for Beer Club members)

25% off a large selection of Beers!!

$2 off all Draws

Madhouse Tap Takeover Featuring:

Freedom Toast
New Release: Gin barrel-aged sour with juniper berries (yet to be named)
New Release: New England IPA (yet to be named)
Honey Pilsner
Hopburst IPA
Monk Town

We will also have some very special beer surprises available for purchase.


Saturday Morning Glory @ Big Grove’s Richard the Whale Release

big groveFirst of all, my brother in law thought “Saturday Morning Glory” would be the perfect name for a tailgating beer, so any brewers that want to jump on to that go for it!

Big Grove’s Richard the Whale bottle release was the perfect way to start off your Saturday morning if you’re a beer lover. For this release, if you bought a ticket you received 2 bottles of Richard the Whale, 1 bottle of Richard Coffee, 1 Richard glass, and also the opportunity to drink many fantastic beers on tap. Even if you didn’t get a ticket, the beers on tap were still an option.

photo 1

So, to start off the morning I went with some Coffee Richard on tap, waiting patiently until that 10:00 tapping of Jean Luc Richard. What seemed like a simple bottle release was just a bit more at Big Grove. Along with all the tremendous beer on tap, the real treat was to be able to shoot the shit with the guys and girls who bring us this terrific beer. The opportunity to talk with the folks responsible for putting on an event, knowing there hasn’t been much sleep and some long ass days and they greet, smile and talk to everyone they can; so thanks to Chad, Danny, Rabbit, Doug, Matt, and Chef Smart..a terrific event and I’m looking forward to the next!

So many great conversations with the fellas from 7G, who are great beer conversationalists all the time, so cheers to Collin, Clint and Garrett from 7G! Also, Bob and Dave from Need and as always, the guy who should be in the Dos Equis most interesting man in the world commercials, Jeremy from Club 76.

photo 2.JPG

Richard and the variants tasted amazing, although I didn’t eat the buffet I’m kind of kicking myself as it looked terrific. Bellied up at the bar with a some great stouts I was offered a glass of Big Grove’s Easy Eddy from Mr. Swift. He told me they switched the yeast strain and what he poured came back as a hazy, juicy, hop bomb. It was delicious! Easy Eddy is tasting great right now folks! They also had a double dry hopped IPA on tap that was very tasty.


Overall, the new space in Iowa City was perfect for hosting this event and the folks who run the show really knocked it out of the park. Beer, food, conversation, (not to mention the sweet ass swag BG has going right now), all made for a fantastic event. When Big Grove has their next release, there’s no question I’ll be there and there’s no question they will try to top how great Saturday’s Richard release was! Check out those sweet as Richard labels as well!  Cheers BG!