Iowa Brew News: Big Grove, Contrary, Thew, Lion Bridge, SingleSpeed, Backpocket, Barntown, and more!

cherry pe.jpgTons of news tidbits from the past week to pass along to beer lovers. Iowa brewers have been busy with new releases, canning lines, and getting their beer to our shelves. So much great stuff out there to drink right now, get out there and support local breweries! Next Saturday (June 30th) is packed with beer releases! Big Grove, Barn Town, and Thew all will be doing bottle releases. Huge beer day in Iowa!

**Big Grove Brewery**– Big Grove has just announced that next Saturday (June 30th) they will be releasing bottles of Cherry Pie, a berliner weisse beer with tart cherries, lactose, and spices that is part of their Sugar Bottom Series. Both locations will have bottles, limit 6 per person, and a bit on tap. Make sure you check it out!

**Lion Bridge** – Lion Bridge keeps kicking out beers with the release of 380 South and Majestic Beast this week. 380 South is a collab with SingleSpeed (who did 380 North), and is a hazy IPA brewed with guava. Here’s more on these beers from Lion Bridge:

Lion Bridge and SingleSpeed are connected by more than a highway, and while we may not be mirror images of one another, the commonalities between the two of us are certainly worth noting. Both organizations are passionate about: community, historical preservation, authenticity, and of course, perhaps above all, the creation of great beer.

380 South sits as one half of what is a truly unique collaborative experiment. This hazy, single-hop Denali Pale Ale was crafted at Lion Bridge Brewing in Cedar Rapids, using the same grain and hops as 3-Eighty North, crafted at SingleSpeed Brewing in Waterloo. The only differences were the yeast, water and the fruit added. 380 South features guava, while 3-Eighty North features mango puree. A side by side tasting of the two sister brews is highly recommended.


The other Lion Bridge release is a re-release of Majestic Beast. One of my personal favorites. Here’s more on this brew courtesy of Lion Bridge:

This mirthful beverage was dry-hopped with Mosaic Lupulin Powder, as well as a bit of Simcoe and Eukanot. By using hop powder with the green plant material removed, we are dry-hopping a concentrated version of the aromatic oils found in the hops. Resinous and tropical; potent yet graceful. It may just bring a tear to your eye.

contrary.jpg**Contrary Brewing** – heading over to Muscatine and Contrary Brewing company as they continue their line of Milkshake IPAs with a perfectly timed Bomb Pop Milkshake IPA. Here’s more on this brew courtesy of Contrary:

Next in our series of Milkshake IPA is the Bomb Pop! We combined raspberry purée, blueberry purée and lemonade with milk sugar, vanilla and hops. Summer is here! See you soon.

DgDc-kkUwAICgGM**SingleSpeed Brewing ** – everyone knows by know that SingleSpeed cans have it the market. Victory Dance, Ring Around the Gose, Tricycle, and Tip the Cow are all available so if you haven’t gotten some, this is the perfect weekend to grab a couple of sixers!

**Backpocket Brewing** – a widely anticipated release is on the horizon as Backpocket as announced the release of their 6th Anniversary barrel-aged stout. July 7th is the date, mark it on the calendar, make a day of it!


**Thew Brewing ** – the new kid on the block is going to start bottling soon as Thew Brewing in Cedar Rapids has announced for June 30th. Two amazing sounding stouts and other releases for the day. $50 gets you food and 2 12 oz bottles of their stouts. More below:

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**Barn Town Brewing ** – Barn Town keeps pumping out the releases with another announcement of a guava berliner weisse and a sour IPA. More below:

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SingleSpeed Can Launch Party Hits IC/CR Today! (6/19)

singlespeedSingleSpeed Brewery will be hosting a few launch parties around the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area today, Tuesday June 19th. The brewery will be releasing 4 core beers: Tricycle (Cream Ale), Tip the Cow (Cocoa Espresso Milk Stout), Victory Dance (IPA), and Ring Around the Gose (Gose). Check their release poster below to see where they will be available in the IC/CR area and make sure to stop in a grab some of their beers. Congrats SingleSpeed!


Ladora Bank Bistro: A MUST Visit Food Destination!

IMG_0425.jpgYour plans for this weekend are here! Get a babysitter lined up, tell them not to expect you home for 4-5 hours because you are going to plant your ass on a chair and enjoy some amazing food, beer and wine and you’re not going to be in a rush about it! This restaurant review could be as simple as, “Just go there” or “Must eat here” because that’s really how good this place is. But, I’ve got some sweet food snaps so I’ll go a little deeper.


Ladora, Iowa is about a 50 minute drive from Cedar Rapids a little more than an hour from Des Moines and is essentially in a ghost town. Situated in an old bank sits Ladora Bank Bistro and if it wasn’t for my son’s little league game, I wouldn’t have made it in to see just how great this place is. In a town of 287 people sits a culinary work of art!

The bank was opened in 1920 and the owners did a great thing by not taking out the teller windows, vault, etc. Essentially keeping the history of the bank in tact while opening up a great restaurant. Upon entering, the structure and the objects from the past were what you noticed, and the quaint ambiance is what you feel. Plate after plate of tapas leaving the kitchen and being served to eager guests as they lick their lips at what is presented before them made you feel like this was the right place to stop and eat.


We dined with some fellow foodies and wine lovers, and as the late great Anthony Bourdain once said, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together” and that couldn’t have been more true, as during some pre-meal drinks we were able to connect some people from our pasts to one another. The plates come out tapas style and are served when they are ready.


The first few dishes to come out where the “Angels on Horseback” which are bacon wrapped scallops with a horseradish marmalade and the red snapper tacos. I didn’t try the scallops but the rest of the party loved them and the fish tacos were some the best tacos I’ve had. Perfectly cooked and not overly seasoned fish, the chipotle lime sauce was tart and delicious and a big heaping mound of pickled red onions were good enough to eat by themselves.


The rest of the dishes then came out. The Thai shrimp crostini was good enough to eat like a stew but when toasted sourdough is presented you can’t say no. The shrimp were plump and perfectly cooked, the sauce was extremely flavorful and every bite was a flavor explosion. Excellent dish. The Pork Belly Bao buns are the perfect hand held snack food. Pork belly was crispy, not too fatty and melted in your mouth and the pickles and dill were the perfect companion to the sauce. Last but not least were the duck potstickers. This was truly one of the better things I’ve ever eaten. The duck was fork tender, melt in your mouth, and the asian cabbage slaw paired perfect. It’s hard not shove your face when the food is this good and I was proud of myself for not looking like a complete glutton. I can’t recommend this place enough, for the food alone, it’s worth the trip, it’s a must try experience, so make the journey!




This was the real shock of the experience. The beer list was terrific! Fulton Mosaic IPA on tap, Dogfish head Indian Brown, Great Divide Yeti, Lion Bridge Plum Saison, and Big Grove Boomtown all on tap along with a HUGE wine list! I believe our waiter was a certified cicerone but I forgot to ask, but he definitely knew his beer. The vault was also stocked with a ton of bottles for your pleasure.


Foodies rejoice. This place is for you. Beer geeks rejoice, a terrific tap list with a bottles to follow. Make some time to check this place out, you won’t regret it!



Less than 24 hours after the news of his passing I’m still in shock, scouring social media looking for answers to questions that will really never be answered…and honestly, I have no right to know the answers to those questions, I wish and hope that his family find or get some of those answers but I can honestly say that the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death has been such a punch to the gut more than any other celebrity death I can remember. And saying that sentence makes me sound so small because who the hell am I? Really, these people are all human, flawed as we all are, marked with mistakes even though the population doesn’t get to see them as we only see what is presented on T.V. or social media. There are no easy answers to this. Many of us can sit back and say how selfish it is to do what he did and maybe that is so, and I can agree with that to a certain extent. But who really knows what is swimming in one’s head, what one is dealing with, the conflicts one faces everyday within themselves…..outside looking in is easy to judge, we all wish the reach out is easy, but apparently it’s not.

The inspiration that Anthony Bourdain had on me is monumental. After watching A Cook’s Tour one random evening about 15 years ago and becoming hooked, I never would have found myself yearning to try new foods, new restaurants, and new cuisines, and all of that transferred over to the beer world, trying new styles, new breweries, and wanting more. I know he wasn’t a huge craft beer advocate but that didn’t matter, his acceptance of different cultures and his push for us all to go outside of our comfort zone made him iconic. He will go down in American history as someone who helped transform the landscape of how we eat, drink, and socialize, and better yet, he made it ok to accept cultures and human beings for who they are.

How can the passing of someone you’ve never met hit so close to home? The answer is quite simple…they’ve had an affect on how you live your life and what you stand for, and no doubt, he had flaws and downfalls, but the mark he left on this world has been nothing but positive.

In the book “My Last Supper” by Melanie Dunea, Bourdain’s last meal was roasted bone marrow and his last drink was a pint of Guinness at St. John’s Gate..if there was ever a human who deserved a pint it was him and I hope that he enjoyed one..if not before his passing, I really hope he’s smiling from above with a pint in his hand.

RIP Chef.

Jester King SPON series coming to Schera’s in Elkader June 23rd!

jester king.pngHuge news out of Elkader yesterday as Schera’s restaurant announced a Jester King beer tasting event on June 23rd. Here are the deets:

We are really excited to bring a stellar lineup of Jester King beers to Iowa for the first annual SPON Day on June 23, 2018 at Schera’s in Elkader. Jester King’s SPON series are their 100% spontaneously fermented beers inspired by authentic Belgian Lambic. They are incredibly delicious and wickedly impossible to find outside of Jester King’s tasting room and select beer festivals. We are also really excited to announce that we’ll be joined by Jester King co-founder Jeffrey Stuffings for the event!

Here is the list of SPONs that will be at this event:

2017 SPON Three Year Blend (Blend 5) (Included with ticket)
2017 SPON Blueberry & Pitaya
2017 SPON Peach & Apricot (Included with ticket)
2017 SPON Syrah & Sangiovese
2016 SPON Albariño & Blanc du Bois (Limited Samples)
The ticket pack includes:

Nine 3.5oz. Jester King Pours: 2017 SPON Three Year Blend (Blend 5), 2017 SPON Peach & Apricot, Bier de Lenoir, Grim Harvest, Song of Binding, Part & Parcel, Figlet, Vague Recollection 2017, Saison Americaine
SPON Day Glass
SPON Day T-Shirt
750ml Bottle of Jester King Le Petite Prince
Food During the Event (Cajun Shrimp, Red Beans & Rice, Vegetable Gumbo, Beignets)
Additional Jester King beers (including more SPONs) will be on tap that day on a cash basis.
The event will take place at Schera’s Restaurant in Elkader from Noon to 5pm. We will be selling tickets online at starting this Saturday, June 2 at 9am. Tickets will be at the door on the day of the event. Proper ID will be required for all ticket holders.

Ticket packs are $97.50 plus $2.50 processing fee. Ticket price includes 7% sales tax. Please note–you will need the names and t-shirt sizes of everyone you are purchasing tickets for. Designated Driver tickets will be available as well.

We area also selling Jester King bottles at We have almost 30 beers on offer, including rare bottles that seldom, if ever, leave Jester King in Texas. These bottles will be ready for pickup on the day of the event or at Schera’s after the event. So you will be able to purchase bottle even if you are unable to attend. PICKUP ONLY–NO SHIPPING IS AVAILABLE! There may be some odds and ends available for sale on the day of the event, but if so, will be extremely limited.

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Drink This! Lion Bridge Teachable Moment

lion bridgeThese last few days in Iowa have been hotter than…(insert your favorite expression here), and what better way to cool down than with a delicious local brew. With a great week of releases from Big Grove (cans), 3rd Base, and others, I was able to get to Lion Bridge to try their latest release, Teachable Moment, a New-England style IPA. Here are the deets on this brew:

Creamy, soft body, a hazy appearance and a juicy punch from Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe.


It was a sweltering 93 degrees outside when I ordered this brew and it went down quick. The beauty of this beer is not only how deliciously juice it is or how smooth it goes down but it checks in at 5.5% which means a couple of these on a hot day won’t get you too cockeyed! The haze craze continues and this is one that you should get down to the Czech Village to try, pair it with Lion Bridge’s chicken salad sandwich and you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle the heat! Fill a growler or meowler and watch the kids play in the sprinkler while you sip this; what ever you decide to do you should Drink This! brew!

Iowa Beer Week in Review: Firetrucker, Third Base, Contrary, Iowa Brewing, Lark

There were quite a few new releases around the state last week and hopefully many of you got out there and tried some of these brews. Even with Benz hosting their annual beer festival, brewers were still pushing out some new ales for us to enjoy. Here’s what was happening last week:

cat.jpg**Firetrucker Brewery** – Firetrucker released Copper Cat which is their beer interpretation of a Moscow Mule. Loaded with ginger and lime this brew checks in at 6.5% and would be perfect for the mule fan and for the warmer days ahead. Here’s more on this brew:

Your favorite summer drink just became portable! Copper Cat is loaded with fresh ginger and bright lime to cool you down when the temps are blazin’, Pour this rad gluten free concoction straight into your mouth or get crazy and use a copper cup for a true Moscow Meowl experience.

**Reunion Brewery** – Reunion Brewery in Coralville had a big week of releases last week. The announcement of their wonderful double IPA Tank Puncher coming to canning lines was met with excitement and then they tapped up their Double Dry Hopped Citra Juice Factory Pale ale. Tank Puncher cans should be hitting shelves in June, and don’t forget about their sweet shirts made by Johnnie 5, might as well grab one of those too!

tank puncher.jpg

**Third Base Brewery** another brewery with a busy week was Third Base in Cedar Rapids. They not only announced the return of Obsidian Sword but along with Cedar Rapids’ other fine breweries released 80% Hugging, a golden ale with mangoes and citra hops. To go along with that they’ve released Dreaming Out Loud which is a sour brewed with oranges and centennial hops and then fermented with peaches. Last but not least for 3rd Base is the announcement of the release of Pastriarchy, a cinnamon roll imperial stout. This beer will be released May 17th and will be on tap and available in crowlers!

third base

**Contrary Brewing** – heading over to Muscatine and Contrary Brewing who released Citrus Paradisi. Citrus Paradisi IPA is brewed with amarillo, eureka and simcoe hops with grapefruit purée! Check this one out while you can!


**Iowa Brewing** – huge week for Iowa Brewing, fresh off of winning silver at the World Beer Cup for Tragedy of the Commons they come right back to work with the bottle releases of 4 Hang Fire variants.They released Templeton Hang Fire, Rubus Hang Fire, Aquilla ‘nilla Hang Fire, and Brunch AF Hang Fire. I have yet to get a taste but I’ve been hearing great things so make sure to swing by Iowa Brewing when you are in Cedar Rapids!

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**Lark Brewing** – this one just came across the wire and it sounds like a can’t miss event if you are in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area:


We are releasing Savath, our BA Imperial Stout, with two variants of Blueberry and Cacao, this Thursday at 4PM. There will be 20 Crowlers available of each variant, and a limit of one crowler of each (two total) per person. There will also be eight gallons of each on tap @ 4oz. and 8oz. pours.
As always: First come, first served.
Get Down and Get Some!
Happy Craft Beer Week!!

**If you have some release news and want it posted please shoot it my way!** Cheers!

Benz Beer Fest Preview: What’s Big Grove Bringing?

big groveDo you see that? At the bottom of the image? Yes, Richard the Coffee will be pouring from growlers as well. No, not fills, but don’t get too down, just get your ass there and get a growler pour. Not to mention Turtle Hunter and a new Sugar Bottom Series brew…Cherry and Rhubarb? Can’t go wrong there. Get there early, Richard pours at 2, the rest is up all day until it’s gone. Don’t let the rain dissuade you, drink some great local beers!

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