Backpocket 10th Anniversary set for June 11th!

Set your calendars for Saturday June 11th and get to Backpocket’s 10th Anniversary party featuring the release of their 10th Anniversary stout and much more! Complete lineup below:

Mark your calendars and help us celebrate TEN YEARS!!

Special releases include:
TENTH Anniversary Stout, BA Tiki Sour, Mallow Vibes, and Black Hive!

11AM-12PM Hits and Hops Kickboxing inspired workout with 9Round Fitness

12PM-7PM Albatross Food Truck

1-3PM Live music with James Tuston

1PM Elida’s Bakery

4-6PM Live music with Harvest

7PM Marco’s Food Truck

7-9PM DSM Silent Disco

Yard games ALL day!

Backpocket Anniversary Party set for June 29th!


Backpocket Brewing will be celebrating their 7th Anniversary next month as they host their anniversary party and will be releasing their highly sought after  Anniversary Stout! Live music, food, and most importantly delicious beer aplenty. Here are the deets on the party:

On Saturday, June 29th join us for our private Anniversary Party from 9am – 11am. DJ NYJ will be spinnin tracks from 9am – 12pm as we release our 7th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout. You’ll want to stick around because we will have all you can eat breakfast, timed pins, a surprise brewery only bomber release at 11am, and live music from The Surf Zombies from 4 – 6 pm.
Tickets will be on sale for the general public Tuesday, May 28th at 8am.
General Ticket Holders will receive:
(1) Bottle of 7th Anniversary Stout.
(1) Bottle of our 7th Anniversary Stout Double Barrel (Rum and Bourbon) Variant
(1) 4 oz. Pour of 7th Anniversary (Bourbon ONLY)
(1) Exclusive 7th Anniversary Glass
(1) Ticket for ALL YOU CAN EAT breakfast.
Access to a party exclusive pin variant.
VIP tickets are $110 and will include..
(1) Bottle of 7th Anniversary Stout.
(1) Bottle of 6th Anniversary Stout
(1) Bottle of our 7th Anniversary Stout Variant Double Barrel (Rum and Bourbon) Variant
(1) 4oz. Pour of 7th Anniversary (Bourbon ONLY)
(1) Exclusive 7th Anniversary Glass
(1) Ticket for ALL YOU CAN EAT breakfast.
Access to a party exclusive pin variant

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:

thew brewing.jpg


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

Barn Town.jpg


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!

Backpocket to Release “Murderhorn” Golden Strong in May

BackpocketThis comes from 7G and Backpocket Brewing:

Backpocket Brewing

New(ish) beer announcement: Last year we brewed a mega beer for the first time and everyone loved it. So this year we’re bringing it back. Which beer? Murderhorn, the 10.2% ABV Golden Strong Ale. It’s such a big beer that we’re going all out and bottling it too. Look for it on shelves and taps near you in May. ‪#‎muderhorn‬

Sounds tasty, looking forward to trying this one!

Backpocket Brewery to open Backpocket Pilot Pub in Cedar Rapids in 2016

backpocket.pngThe following press release comes from Backpocket Brewery:

Backpocket Brewery opening new Pilot Pub brewery in Cedar Rapids Coralville, Iowa

— Backpocket Brewing, the craft beer brewery in Coralville, Iowa, announced at Brrrfest on Saturday that they will be opening a new experimental brewery in Cedar Rapids this year. The second location, named Backpocket Pilot Pub, will be a small, full­service brewery and pub located in the heart of Cedar Rapids. “We are excited to open a second brewery in the heart of Cedar Rapids,” co­founder and brewmaster Jake Simmons said. “The community of Cedar Rapids has advanced so far since the flood in 2008 and it makes sense for us to have a brewpub in such a bustling city so close to our home brewery.” At the Backpocket Pilot Pub, brewers will brew experimental and small batch beers that are not commonly brewed in Iowa. “In this experimental brewery we will have the opportunity to take more chances on styles and recipes that we don’t want to brew on as large of a scale that we would have to at the brewery in Coralville,” Mike Wing, Backpocket’s Head Brewer said. “With our new small batch brewery, it is our expectation that we will be able to quadruple the number of new beer releases we have each year. Who doesn’t love more beer?” The Backpocket Pilot Pub will open at 415 Third Street SE in Cedar Rapids, in the old Sokol building gymnasium space. The Backpocket team is working with developers now to renovate the space, which is currently under construction. Current plans consist of 28 foot tall ceilings, lofted seating areas, and even a stained glass mural of Prague in the Czech Republic. Backpocket Pilot Pub plans to be open in summer of this year. Learn more about the Backpocket Pilot Pub on the pub’s Facebook, Twitter, and webpage This isn’t the first brewery the team at Backpocket Brewing Company has opened. The brewery itself was founded in 2009 at Old Man River Brewing Company in McGregor, Iowa, but quickly grew out of its home. As demand for craft beer in Iowa and the Midwest grew, the team decided to expand into their own space. In 2012, they opened Backpocket Brewing in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing. Backpocket beer can now be found in bars, restaurants, and stores across the states of Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. For more information, visit

Baron Family Beer Festival Results, Year 9: Big Grove Reigns Supreme!

photo (2).JPGYear 9 of my family’s beer festival is in the books and it was another great year of tasting some excellent brews. The cool thing about our beer festival is that there are many different palates and finding one beer that satisfies all of them can be really tough. Most of the guys prefer IPAs/Saisons/Sours and many of the ladies prefer stouts, porters, and fruit beers.

Every year it’s a blind tasting. We usually try to break it up throughout the day. Along with it being blind, here’s how we score it:

Appearance /5
Aroma /5
Taste /15
Drinkability /5

So the total is out of 30 with the highest obviously being crowned the champion. Now, I’ve never won, my wife has won 3 times, my brother twice, and even my brother-in-law has a gold medal. What beer could I bring to this beer fest that everyone would enjoy? Nothing says Merry Christmas like a 12% imperial IPA, so at the very least, if I didn’t win I can drown my sorrows and get drunk. Onto the results:

chill clinton8th Place – Exile Chill Clinton Double Hemp Amber – I liked the taste of this beer, I think for most, the aroma was what got this a low score which led to people automatically not enjoying it. My brother-in-laws entry.


rover truck.jpeg7th Place – Toppling Goliath Rover Truck Stout – This is an ok stout. I didn’t score it terribly low but out of the two stouts we had this one was missing something. My sister-in-law’s entry.

6th Place – Peace Tree Blonde Fatale – Ipeade tree.jpeg really enjoy this beer and scored it well. I don’t think anyone really disliked it, but I don’t think anyone was in love with it either. My mom’s entry.

stone saison.jpeg5th Place – Stone Saison – a good saison, I enjoyed it, but missing a few things for a top 3 finish. My brother’s entry.

4th Place – Backpocket Wake Up Iowa Stout – a wake up iowavery good showing for Backpocket with this beer. Between the 2 stouts I thought this one had more roasty malts and good coffee flavor compared to the TG stout. My dad’s entry.

nelson3rd Place – Alpine Nelson – loved this brew! This was my 2nd place winner and it just missed out on 2nd place. Lovely addition to our ever-expanding beer options in Iowa. My wife’s entry.

2nd Place – Ballast Point Sculpin – a fresh bottle of sculpin.jpegSculpin is tough to beat and this beer was fresh! Apparently right off the truck and into our glasses and an excellent 1st showing for Ballast Point, this was my brother’s entry and he almost won, except………….THE BARON BROUGHT HIS GAME!

photo (2).JPG1st Place – Big Grove Brewery Trident XII – not only am I thrilled I actually won for once and I didn’t have to sit in the shadow of others for the 9th straight year but I won with an Iowa brewery and a place I pretty much visit every other day. Trident is on point. An excellent brew, and dangerously drinkable. My favorite moment is when tasting this, knowing it was mine, my brother looks down the table and mouths the words: “holy shit” Big Grove has won many awards since they’ve opened, but this has to be one of the better awards they’ve won 🙂 A lovely beer. I have pictures of my celebration but this is a PG site. A win for the Baron!

The wheels are already turning for next year’s beer fest. We’ve decided it will be an all Iowa brewery beer festival which will be great, so the question is, what should I bring next year?

America’s River Festival BrewFest set for Saturday June 13th in Dubuque, IA

2015_ARF-Brewfest-HeaderThe early planning stages are being worked on but right now I can confirm that Dubuque will be holding a BrewFest on Saturday, June 13th in the Port of Dubuque. This festival will pair local breweries to go along with some great music. More details on the brewfest can be found here:

Gates open at noon for VIP ticket holders ($40) and 1:00 p.m. for general admission ticket holders ($30). Here’s the list as of now of the breweries who will be pouring their delicious brew:

*Another Road
*Deb’s Brewtopia
*Green Flash
*Goose Island
*Great River
*Franklin Street
*Lion Bridge
*Old Man River
*Third Base
*Bent River

I’ll keep you posted if more breweries are added.

**I will be attending and I hope to see you there! Cheers!

The Six-Pack Project

bloggersThis past week I received a tweet from fellow beer blogger @BryanDRoth at This Is Why I’m Drunk. He was interested in setting up a beer blogging collaboration from beer bloggers in different states to come up with their ultimate 6 pack of beer that “best represents you state”. After much thinking I think I finally come up with my Ultimate Iowa Brewed Six pack, however @BryanDRoth has some rules to follow:

1. Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
2. Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
3. Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
4. Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.

So, with that being said, I had to disqualify many of the fantastic up-and-coming breweries and their beers and this is also the reason why you won’t see Kentucky Brunch or Mornin’ Delight from Toppling Goliath on the list. So, a tip of the cap to 515, Exile, Big Grove (Loving their Double IPA right now), and anyone else I forgot to mention. I wanted year round availability, (even though Sue and Sosus can be hard to come by), for someone traveling through the state to get their hands on, so here’s what I went with:

sue Toppling Goliath pseudoSue 

This was a no-brainer, it might be my favorite beer in the world actually. Although hard to come by at times, it has become the best beer brewed Iowa, without question. The demand is high and once it hits the shelves it’s come in a matter of minutes.

Brewed and bottled in Decorah, IA, this beer is starting to get national recognition, as it should. An American pale ale coming in at 5.8% and 50 IBUs, I would be hard pressed to find a better pale ale in America and a better use of the wonderful citra hop. Zombie Dust comes to mind, and I might be a little biased here, but I think Sue is a bit better than the Dust. Not only is this beer amazing, but the folks at Toppling Goliath are some of nicest people I’ve ever met in the business.

Food pairing of choice: A holiday ham would do or some nice steak tacos would go well.

sosusToppling Goliath Sosus

Single hopped Imperial IPA from Toppling Goliath using only mosiac hops. You get everything you want from an Imperial IPA; citrus, dankness, resinous pine, and then a bit of malt to make it shine. Another home run from Toppling Goliath.

This beer comes in at 8% ABV and 100 IBUs. This is a very easy drinker for a double IPA, but you need to be careful as it can sneak up on you quickly as it doesn’t take long for a bottle or two of this to disappear rather quickly. Check out more from Toppling Goliath at

Food pairing of choice: Some BBQ ribs would do nicely here; sauce on the side.

redbandGreat River Redband Stout

Brewed and canned in Davenport, IA, Redband Stout still stands atop as my favorite coffee stout brewed in Iowa. There are a few stouts to choose from in this great state, and, not including Imperials or barrel-aged, I think this is the go-to. It seems to be increasingly difficult just to get a regular, everyday drinking stout, but Great River comes through and makes this fantastic coffee stout hard to resist.

Redband comes in at 6% ABV and packs a huge coffee punch. The perfect breakfast beer to accompany your bacon and eggs or even your leftover cold pizza. This is the style of beer that I really enjoy during the Iowa fall/winter months. Need more info on Great River, check them out here:

Food pairing of choice: Breakfast burritos

madhouse Madhouse Hopburst IPA

Yes, I know, another IPA on the list. But I can leave it off because it is a fantastic brew. Brewed in Newton, IA (Madhouse is planning a move to Des Moines), this beer uses a “hopbursting” technique where they add most of the hops to the boil late in the process to achieve maximum hop presence.

Checking in at 7.2% this IPA is the definition of a balanced IPA. The hop presence hits you in the face but doesn’t overwhelm you and then the malt does exactly as it should and balances everything perfectly. A well-crafted brew by the folks at Madhouse. Check them out here:

Food pairing of choice: Spicy chicken wings (Korean wings from Big Grove Brewery in Solon, IA)

johns Millstream John’s Generation White Ale

Wanted to get some variety of style into the 6 pack and this beer does the trick. A past, I believe, GABF gold medal winner in the white ale category this beer is perfect for any season. You get the breadiness that you get from most wits but the orange/citrus and coriander are really prominent in this brew. Wonderfully refreshing and easy to drink, stop in at Millstream Brewery in the Amana Colonies and have it on tap!

This beer comes in at 5.2% and as said above, is very drinkable. The brewery is only a 20-25 minute drive from Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, so if visiting, make the trip over and try their beer fresh on tap. The oldest brewer in Iowa is also makes a fine root beer and has recently started a barrel-aging program. Check out more from Millstream here:

Food pairing of choice: Shrimp cocktail or some seared scallops.

wooden nickelBackpocket Wooden Nickel Scottish Ale

This semi-new brewery in Coralville is not only serving up some suds but makes some damn fine wood-fired pizzas as well. I picked their wooden nickel because I think they really nail the Scottish style with their rendition. Scottish style ales aren’t as mainstream as IPAs, sours, or barrel-aged brews but they do have their place and Backpocket makes a delicious one.

Coming in at 5.7%, this beer would go perfectly with one of their house made pizzas. The malt and nuttiness really stands out in this beer. You can find six packs throughout Eastern Iowa or if in the area, just check out the brewery, gets some beer cheese and then order a pie. Good stuff.

Food pairing of choice: One of Backpocket’s pizzas or a roasted chicken with some roasted mushrooms would be terrific!

**Narrowing down this field was very hard to do. I had some many different beers in my six-pack but after careful consideration and trying to go with some different styles this is what I came up with. There are some many great places to stop and try beers out throughout Iowa, and although I’m not as familiar with the western part of the state I know once you hit Davenport on your way to Des Moines you won’t have trouble finding a place to stop. All the beers listed above plus shoutouts to Johns Grocery, Benz Beverage Depot, Big Grove Brewery, 515 Brewery, Confluence, Exile, Court Avenue Brewery, Reds Alehouse, Johncy’s Liquor Store, and many more.



Does my list come close to yours? I would love any feedback to start discussion on this topic. Beer culture in Iowa continues to change for the positive and the places above are reasons for that. Cheers!

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