Are you ready for Big Ed? A personal favorite makes its way back to my fridge on August 1st!
Are you ready for Big Ed? A personal favorite makes its way back to my fridge on August 1st!
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!
Sweltering hot and humid Iowa summers make you yearn for a beachside drink while overlooking the ocean, well, for me they do and thankfully SingleSpeed Brewery and Pulpit Rock Brewery have teamed up for a collab that brings the tropics to Iowa. We are missing the white sandy beaches and crystal clear ocean but we have the drink…we have the drink!!
Visiting Need Pizza I was honestly a bit skeptical of ordering this beer as it didn’t seem coconut and a double IPA would go well together. I ordered a small sample and my skepticism was immediately put to rest! Pineapple and coconut are very evident and extremely refreshing, not too overpowering and the hop profile does not overpower or get lost with the toasted coconut. A very creamy double IPA that goes down easily. As I stated in my untappd check-in, if a double IPA and a Pina Colada banged the shit out of each each this would be their love child.
Here’s more from the brewery on this beer:
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.
This is a Pina Colada in beer form, but for me, it tastes even better. If you don’t like coconut, then, as SingleSpeed said, sucks for you, if you enjoy coconut and tropical fruits this a beer you must seek out this summer. Thankfully, Need Pizza and I believe Bricks had it in Cedar Rapids, for how long? I’m not sure, but I hope this beer hits more lines. Possible beer of the year so far for me. Drink This! this summer!
An obvious choice for a Drink This! post but this beer is soooo damn good it’s worth another mention. People lining up anticipating the release, constant social media mentions of the brew and the beer trader pages with the many ISO: Madhouse Carpe Diem tell me that this isn’t a hidden secret of a brew and many of you already know about its greatness.
There are a few releases that I get excited about every year and this is one of them. Since Madhouse has made this beer, every year it has gotten better to the point where I would say that this year’s version is as satisfying and delicious of a beer that I can remember having. Some might say it’s too sweet, or not enough coffee, yadda yadda, to each their own, but for me, pretty damn close to perfection.
Stores sold out fast but call around, maybe there are a few hiding somewhere or maybe Madhouse still has it on tap, or maybe you need to be one of people on the beer trading sites that put out the:
ISO: 2017 Madhouse Carpe Diem
I’m not sure what protocol is but I like to buy a beer and be able to try it, so if you are able to score one, my opinion is to drink it fresh; taste that delicious maple, coffee and chocolate as it mixes perfectly with the oats to make a creamy breakfast masterpiece! One of the best beers coming out of Iowa folks!
Do what you need to do and make sure you get to Drink This brew! Cheers!
I couldn’t do just 1 Drink This! edition this time around as the state of Iowa is sending out so much great beer I had to do three! As we approach the 2017 Coralville Brrr Fest and with the program released this past week anticipation is mounting for ticket holders to get a taste of Iowa’s finest breweries and beers. Within the last 5 days I’ve had the opportunity to try 3 amazing beers from 3 amazing Iowa breweries. So here are three beers the you have to DRINK NOW!
**Big Grove Brewery – Buster Triple IPA** – Buster released this past Tuesday and I knew for sure I had to hit Big Grove and try this baby fresh. Mosaic hops shine with flavors of juicy fruit gum, tropical fruits, and some grassiness. A wonderful dank ass triple IPA. There is one thing that can be bad about this brew…it’s scary drinkable. An 11.4% ABV triple IPA can definitely put you on your ass if you don’t pay attention! This might arguably be the best or one of the best double/triple IPAs in the state. Follow this link to see my post on where it will be available and they also just hit the Cellar Peanut Pub in Pella with a hell of a lineup! So good, can’t wait for another glass! Cheers Big Grove!
**Lion Bridge Brewery – GAZPROM 2017** – I’ve been waiting for this release since last year. Lion Bridge takes the shitty, dark, long ass month of January and makes pretty damn enjoyable with their Barrel-Aged January releases. A new release, every week, for the month of January and all barrel-aged beers. I’ve loved the Winter Warmer and the Royal Wee but the big dog for me is GAZPROM!. The sweetness from the syrup is the perfect balance to booziness from the barrels. I say this a lot but this is a top-tier beer for me….maybe top 10? Top 5? Either way, I can’t wait to have more of this and thank you Quinton and Alec and Lion Bridge for making January tolerable!
**Madhouse Brewery – VIP Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter** – was happy my Mt. Vernon Road Hy-Vee had a few bottles of this, wasn’t sure if we would see it all. I had been hearing good things coming from the fine beer folks in Des Moines and was hoping to land one of these. I’ve been hit and miss with vanilla added to my beers. Sometimes I dig it when it’s not over they type vanilla extract and with Madhouse VIP I’m really digging it. The slight sweetness from the vanilla pairs with the barrel and just a faint hint of cigar smoke on the aftertaste. Viscous, tasty, and warming. An excellent companion to a chilly January evening.
There you go Iowa. Three newer beers for you to try. Hopefully all 3 make it somewhere close to your area and you get a taste, and hopefully you enjoyed them as much as I did/do! Cheers!
1st Place – Lion Bridge Brewery Gazprom!
2nd Place – 3rd Base Brewery Communist Daughter
3rd Place – Toppling Goliath Mornin’ Delight
Congrats to the winners! Thanks to all of those who voted and also reminded me I missed a few to add to the list. Great discussion with many of you on many of these great beers. On Sunday, I’m hoping to open up polling on “Best of Iowa Pale Ale” category. Once again, if anyone knows someone who does medals, I wouldn’t mind getting them to the winners. Thanks!
Big Grove Brewery IPA
Toppling Goliath Pompeii
Turner Alley Mays Island IPA
**Thanks to all those who voted, congrats to the winners, maybe I can get some medals made up. This was fun and I had a lot of feedback! Thank you! After the barrel-aged/imperial stout voting ends on Sunday we will take a bit of break and pick back up with pale ale category! Cheers!**
Man, I’m sure dragging this out! Things to do folks! Here we are with part 3 of my favorite beers of 2015. Once again, these are beers I’ve had for the first time and are available for us to purchase here in Eastern Iowa. I appreciate the comments some of you folks are leaving with your thoughts and what you liked to drink in 2015, keep them coming in! Part 3, let’s do it!
*Surly Darkness – this is just the imperial stout, non-barrel aged version as I was to slow to get to the store to get myself a bottle of the b.a. version. Even so, I really enjoyed the basic imperial version of this beer. I’m not huge on dark fruit stouts usually, but this one was so wonderfully balanced that I wouldn’t think twice about buying a few more bottles of this. Chocolate covered cherries, coffee, dark chocolate, and other dark fruit flavors round out this excellent brew!
*Toppling Goliath X-Hops Gold – the best of the X-hops series in my opinion. Lot of fruit in this beer; honeydew melon, pineapple, some citrus round out this easy drinking pale ale. I’ve heard it’s similar to King Sue in the flavor profile but I haven’t had the most recent batch of the King, but I would gladly take a few more bottles of this.
*Blackberry Farm Saison – I thought about putting their Summer Saison in and also their Fall Saison that is aged in oak barrels, but I keep going back to their regular Saison. Crisp, dry, and gives you that belgian yeast with the spiciness of black pepper and fruitiness of lemon. Lovely brew, a staple in my fridge.
*Big Grove Brewery Richard the Whale – what a great beer and the variants were excellent as well, but I’m going back to the regular Richard as my favorite of the 3 (although the Hazelnut tastes amazing right). Richard is a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Heaven Hill barrels. A lot of great chocolate notes from this beer and as it warms it tastes even better as the bourbon starts to shine. Creamy, delicious, and warming, Big Grove really knocked this one out.
*Lion Bridge Sorachi Liberace – a sorachi ace hopped saison? Yes please! I drank a ton of this beer during the fall months. Citrus flavor from the hops meshes perfectly with the saison yeast. This beer is perfect for anytime of the year and hopefully will be available for drinking a growler on the deck this summer and listening to baseball games.
I always enjoy looking back on a year of great beer drinking and this year was probably the best. So many great beers to choose from and what makes it even better is that there are so many great beers brewed here in Iowa that will makes this list. Don’t get me wrong, tons of good stuff on the shelves, but bringing home a growler of fresh Arms Race or Workman’s Compensation makes it that much more special to live in Eastern Iowa and have the opportunity to support our local breweries.
This year’s list will be dominated by Iowa breweries, these are all beers that were/are available for purchase in Iowa that I had for the FIRST TIME EVER in 2015. You won’t see the Bourbon county’s or the KBS, I know that they change year by year but I’m going to leave them off this list. I haven’t visited a few newer breweries in Iowa which I know I need to. Everyone has their favorites, let me know what I need to try! 30 beers on the list this year and it was difficult coming to just 30. This is Part 1 of 5, let’s roll!
*Lion Bridge Brewery GAZPROM! – a russian imperial stout aged in rye and brandy barrels that Lion Bridge gets to us in the months Iowans need to be warmed up! January and February in Iowa suck, but Lion Bridge’s release of GAZPROM! makes them a little more tolerable. Plus, the tshirt released was badass too!
*Big Grove Brewery Buster – let’s keep the Iowa breweries rolling with a triple IPA that was released last Spring. Big Grove had a dominant year with their IPA releases and their Richard the Whale releases. This triple was juicy as hell and scary drinkable. Coming in at 11.3%, this bad boy could lead to a good night’s sleep.
*Pulpit Rock Mr. Hoppy Pants – one of the newer breweries in Iowa is located across the street from Toppling Goliath in Decorah. I was lucky enough to stop in and have a pint and loved what those breweries are brewing up. Mr. Hoppy Pants is a double IPA brewed on a rotating hop schedule so this brew might change from time to time. Not sure of the hops in the draw I had but I loved it. Aromatic and crushable, visit Pulpit Rock, they are an up and comer to keep an eye on.
*Exile Raspberry Bohemian – this one might keep some talk stirred as I picked this over their Cherry Bohemian and I think many folks enjoyed the cherry more..not me. I think I just enjoy raspberry in my beer more than cherry flavor, just a personal preference and that’s why Raspberry gets my nod over Cherry. Either way, both beers were great and I would venture to say that Exile nailed it with both of them.
*Turner Alley Czech Village Pilsner – a style that’s not as “sexy” as the imperial IPAs or the barrel-aged beers of the world, but a style that seems lost in the mix is pilsners. Travis at Turner Alley has taken what some would consider a boring style and made a crisp, refreshing, balanced pilsner that I would put up against most out there. Looking forward to see what Turner Alley has in store for 2016.
*Firetrucker Black Walnut Alcova Brown Ale – another “basic” style that seems like it got lost in the shuffle of beer styles, gets amped up with the addition of 100 black walnuts. This is a beer I can drink anytime of the year and that nutty aftertastes shines through making this beer a perfect example on how to make a great brown.
**Part 2 coming soon! Iowa brewery dominant so far. Let me know your thoughts!